Saturday, 13 September 2014

Post 6: Fuck Furbies are creepy

That clip's from "Terry's Friend Dates a Robot", an episode of Batman Beyond where one of the supporting characters decides to construct himself a robot girlfriend in order to look popular. I thought it would be somewhat relevant to at least the second reading on Furbies and other creepy robots.

In the Clark reading, where he discusses how the brain's understanding of the body is affected by body image, I couldn't help but notice a vibe of technological determinism. Linking back to Ihde's idea of embodiment relations in week 4, technology can act as an extension of the body, and thus affects the way the body experiences the world. When I played ice hockey for example, I remember my coach saying that our sticks should be an extension of our arms, so that we get a better feel for the puck. Similarly, he also argues that language also affects one's understanding of the world. Nusselder describes Lacan's belief that language is a form of technology as well, thus further reinforcing the technological determinism idea of the chapter.

The second reading brought me back to my book review on Interface Fantasy. When Turkle discusses the Furbies, I realized that the skin of the Furby acts as an interface, interfacing children with the robot beneath the soft toy. It acts like the computer screen in Nusselder's book, interfacing the real with the virtual and giving form to the mechanical processes beneath, allowing children to see them as "friends" rather than pre-programmed machines. Without that skin, the furbies would look downright horrifying (though I'll confess that I've always thought those bastards were kinda creepy). When the Furby's true robotic nature is revealed to the child, the child will likely realize that it wasn't a real pet all along, shattering the illusion that the interface helped provide. In this way, it can be linked once again to Lacan, to "tuche", or chance encounters with the real behind fantasy which shatter one's ideal perception of the world.

I will leave y'all with this Furby skeleton, and show just how important the interface is.

It's like some sort of Terminator

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