Bernard Stiegler

Bernard Stiegler, the French theorist, was one of the most interesting people for me that we studied in this class. He was the leader of the technogenesis movement. One of the most interesting facts about Stiegler was he was incarcerated in Toulouse, France for armed robbery at the Saint-Michele Prison. The prison held many Germans post WWII before it was reestablished into what it was during Stiegler’s time. He did much of his studying and thinking during this period alongside that of Gerard Grenel at le Universite de Toulouse le Mirail. 

What is interesting about all of this is the fact that I lived by this prison for three months while I interned in the U.S. Consulate In Toulouse, France. This internship was with the United States State Department. A lot of the work we did involved public and economic diplomacy in the South West region of France. Everyday I hopped on the metro right in front of the to get to work

It is no longer used as a prison and every week there is an article in the local newspaper of how they were going to repurpose it. The popular idea was turning it into a music school/ theatre because of its large walls. It would be able to echo the music that was being play all throughout the city. You can see its large walls would be perfect for the echo effect. The prison basically never gives tours of the prison because of his Nazi Germany history.

 

I did a lot of work with the Universite de Toulouse le Mirail also. In the consulate we gave many grants for students to study in the United States. We also gave a lot of grants for American professors to come and give conferences at the University. One of the most populous Universities in Toulouse, it plays an important role in the city. We have many relationships with the University. There international business school is rather large with students from America specifically with the University of Cincinnati. Recently the name of the School has changed to just the University of Toulouse. The reason with this is because the name “Mirail”has a negative connotation attached to it. When people thing of le Mirail, they think of poor people at Gypsys or Romanians. So the city voted on changing the name in hopes of making the school more of an International hub.

France and the city of Toulouse specifically has an interesting political sphere when it comes to Romanians. There is a large portion of the city that is somewhat racist towards the Romanians. They have a movement that is particularly popular in Toulouse against the Romanians called the Front Nationale.  This group is somewhat similar to our Tea Party in the sense that it is very Nationalistic. It wants to keep everyone that is not French out and protect its borders just like the Tea Party wants to keep illegals out. 

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Becoming Robots

 

 

This picture is of a guy who was unable to attend a conference because he was sick and could not fly all the way to Los Angeles. This machine is essentially a skyping segway. No longer are people bound by sickness, late flights, or handicaps. There are instances in which kids who have a rare sickness’ or diseases that forbid them to school and this product now allows them to go to school. You control the vehicle by a remote in your room and you can attend class just like all of the other kids. I remember back when I was kid in grade school when there was a huge break out in chickenpox. There was a number of kids that were not aloud to enter the school in fear of passing it on to the others. Imagine if this was something that kids could rent out for the day. They would not be left behind or anything.         

            This product does present some problems for our society and what it means to be a human. Imagine a world where no one goes into work anymore because they can just remote control this product around work all day. You do not have to attend a meeting anymore because you could just send your skyping segway into work for you. Same thing goes for conferences. You can now give conferences from your home through these things. It takes away the human connection, from having a meeting with other people around a table or having a teacher in front of you giving you the information. Without someone actually being in the classroom or meeting it would probably feel weird and distracting.

 

            This picture reminded me of the film Wall-E. It revolves in a post-Earth life where everyone lives on a giant space ship. Everyone becomes super fat because they sit in a chair all day and stare at screens. They are actually connected to the chair and talk to each other on the screens. It is funny because if they looked up, they would actually be able to talk to one another face to face but they become addicted to their screens. Many view this as an implausible future but the way we are addicted to looking at our screens definitely makes a case for this grim future. During the movie they finally become distracted from their screen lives and start to look at what they are doing. They realize they are losing what it means to be human. It is an interesting contrast to the robot Wall-E for strives for everything that it means to be human. He wants human life to exist. In a way I think the writers of the film wanted to show that the robot was being more “human” than the humans were being. It is also interesting that the robot was the catalyst for the humans to realize they were no longer acting as humans. They pulled their faces away from the screens because Wall-E bumped into one of them and they started to look around. Wall-E bumped them back into human reality.

Brain Implants

The line between robot and human is becoming a little streched after reading this article. “Upgrade Your Brain: Liquid Hard Drive Implants Could Increase Intellect.” This article is talking about how it might be possible for people to insert a liquid metal into their brain. This will help people with “Storing photos, documents and other files in brain-implantable liquid.” It could “one day be a reality after researchers discovered a new method of storing data in microscopic particles suspended in a solution”. While this only proves that the brain will be able to store more, it does not say whether or not the brain will be able to interpret this data any more than we can today. I think there is a larger underlying problem if this becomes a reality: socio-economic status. I also believe this new technology could take away what it means to be a human.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/upgrade-your-brain-liquid-hard-drive-implants-could-increase-intellect-1458374 

            The biggest problem from the chance that people will be able to store liquid in their brains for a larger capacity of intellect is who will be able to afford it. Those that will be able to afford this what definitely will be a very costly surgery will be the rich. Those that are poor or middle class will have to refer back to the old way of working hard in becoming intelligent. I think of when I was a kid and for some kids in my class it was difficult for them to afford paying for field trips, lunch, and other school supplies. Think 50 years from now when your kid will be intellectually inept because you cannot afford to change their brains like the other rich kids.

 

            This new form of technology is the basis of transhumanism. If you inject that stuff into you brain you are in essence becoming part robot. You are in a sense changing what it means to be “human”. You no longer have to think about things because they are already thought for you.

 

 

The article ends with this quote, “”Of course, that would take all the fun out of reading books and working things out yourself,” says Glotzer. “But you could learn stuff super fast.” I think this also takes away from what it means to be human. We inject robots and machines with information so that they can do jobs for us. If we start to inject people with things like non-fiction and ideas about what culture is, I believe it will take away from our critical thinking skills. We already have a googling machine that takes away our ability to have to think. All you have to do is put a few words into the machine and you get hundreds of responses for what you are researching. Imagine if we took that step out of the equation that you do not have to even search for something. You already know it. There is no time for critical thinking or stepping back from something and analyzing. I think that this will turn us into robots.

http://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/read/artificial-wombs-are-coming-and-the-controversys-already-here

I first want to take a look into the creator of this article: Vice. We talked in class many different times about who is creating the news that we consume everyday. Usually we look to CNN, Politico, MSNBC, FOX, or The New York Times but there is a new player in the game. Vice news has taken what it means to be a news provider and turned it upside down. They are creating real news the goes super in depth to issues that younger generations find interesting. They no longer are creating news that is cut and dry and very typical. They are making stories that are sensational but not in a bad way. Vice is able to go to war torn countries and talk with real people about the issues. They do it almost in a fun way, they cuss and act like real people. Typically with the other news sources I provided above keep to a very strict pattern on giving the news. I thought it was important to introduce Vice before I introduced and talked about the article.

Science is constantly coming up with new and game-changing technologies. I will be talking about how scientist are slowly starting to be able to create fetus’ outside of the womb. As the article title says, the controversy is already here. The article specifically talks about how this is a direct example of transhumanist. In this specific case, it is asking the question of whether or not creating offspring in a tube should be considered human. This idea of creating humans inside embryo’s is something non-fiction often depicts as the savior of human kind.

One of the most interesting parts of this article is how these embryo’s will decide gender. If this is something that actually works and we start to use it, we will now have the capability to decide what gender the baby has. This could definitely be problematic because of certain cultures that favor men to women. China and India specifically have a overpopulation problem. Their cultures typically tend to favor men to women which often results in the mistreatment of women in their culture. If people were able to choose the gender of the baby peoples culture could have an effect on the amount of men to women born.

This article talks about the importance of women in our world in general. Women have the role of actually creating new offspring. This goes along with what I had to say earlier, but what role would women have in a world where they are not needed to birth babies anymore. Will it have a positive effect where women now can base more of their time focusing on the workplace and not have to worry about the 9 months of carrying a child? Or will it have the negative effect of women being ousted in society because they no longer play that vital role in our society. These questions are extremely important to ask when new technologies like this are created.

“Native Advertising”

 

It just so happens that I did my project on the evolution of the newspaper the same week John Oliver did a bit on advertisements. I actually had a difficult time bringing in all of the information in my paper before I watched this episode. For background, John Oliver’s new show called Last week with John Oliver, talks about a specific topic for around 15 minutes. He uses comedy to talk about just how ludicrous the subject matter is. This specific bit talks about the relationship between advertisements and print newspapers.

 

The one thing that print newspapers had going for them was the large separation between advertisements and the writer. The writer was able to write subjective matter without having to please any company or corporation. If anything they were able to write about how a company, corporation, or politician was doing something wrong. The most important thing for a writer is being able to subjectively investigate into wrongdoings of people and that’s why being separate from advertisers is important. Writers cannot have a company influencing their work because then it takes away from the argument. It begs the question of whose argument are we actually reading? Well, the New York Times has decided to go down an ally that they cannot return from.

 

The New York Times (and other print media but I will focus specifically on them because their domination in the print media industry) has decided that it will create sponsored articles in the news paper. Sponsored articles in the simplest definition: advertisements that look like articles. So corporations now have the ability to go to the New York Times and create giant advertisements for themselves that people are not able to differentiate from real articles. This can be a good thing but it also is creating a slippery slope.

 

For example, one of the quasi-good Sponsored Advertisements in the New York Times was about Women in Prison. Now who do you think was the company that paid for this advertisement:

 

 

 

 

 

Netflix for Orange is the New Black. This was a genius marketing play by Netflix. They were bringing attention to the important topic of women in prison all while promoting their television show. Now again, it was a well-written article and well thought out but still this is separating the line between writer and advertiser.

 

The Sponsored Article by Chevron definitely not a good thing in my opinion. They were talking about the complex flow of energy involved in Oil. They were trying to complicate the issue of oil to make it so complicated to the viewer that we would not care about the issue. This is a billion dollar company making an “article” in the New York Times.

 

All of this is a result of our actions. We don’t pay or read print newspapers at levels we used to so someone or something has to pay for the employee’s of the New York Times. So it makes sense that they would bring in advertisers and companies to fill the gap people not buying or having subscriptions to their newspaper.

Non-Normal

What is Natural? I think a better way to ask that question is what is normal. What type of marriage do we view as normal? The period of the text we are examining is America during the Civil Rights period. More specifically to the times in which inter-racial marriage was seen as not normal. Being non-normal during that period could have meant death because it was seen as something incredibly bad. You physically were making an act against god marrying someone who was a different race than yours. History is always running in parallels with itself and we can see that to what is going on today in our society.

 

Marriage has taken on a new role today in the 21st century. People are looking at gay marriage as non-normal and also an act against god. People use the Bible just as they did during the civil rights period to push an agenda that people are committing an act against god if they have sex with someone of the same gender. It is interesting that the exact same thing is happening, just change up the words from race to gender. These two things that are incredibly ambiguous socially constructed words. Attached there is an interesting video that deals with the idea of interracial/ gay marriage. A man goes to a town hall meeting to talk about how gay marriage is ruining their town and gay people are destroying religion and god. The video is an interesting look into how history repeats itself. 

Phone-less

This opportunity to not use technology for a day was actually somewhat refreshing. I felt at times a little lost like there was a piece of myself missing but half way throughout the day I started to get use to it.  About a year ago, I lost my phone and was too stubborn and poor to buy another one so I actually did not have a phone for a whole entire month. I hated the idea that I would have to pay 300 dollars for another smart phone. I understand that some might say I should just buy a flip phone or another phone like that but it’s the fact that the iphone has all my important dates, contacts, and e-mails. I would only be able to access these things if I bought another iphone. So I simply saved up all the money that I could to buy another iphone. I ended up buying the simplest iphone3gs and I have had this 8-year-old phone for about a year and it is still working.

I decided to pick up a New York Times because I am so use to reading media off of the internet. There is definitely more of a personal experience from reading print media. I believe this will be something I focus on for my final paper.

 

While I definitely could not do that again because of job searching and the chance of an employer giving me a call, I did learn a lot from that experience.  The hardest thing about not having a phone is communication. If I wanted to get in touch with my friends it proved rather difficult. I would have to use facebook or twitter which they all barely use.  That is just speaking to my friends; if I wanted to get a hold of my parents I would have to borrow my roommates phone because they do not have facebook. It is somewhat crazy how attached we are to our phones. So, end of story I probably would not do it again but it did feel refreshing to not have anything to worry about, emails, tweets, calls, and texts.