A Bundle Of Pixels

jiselleinfoGetting a virtual pet in second life is quite a remarkable experience.  You go to the shop and choose your pet, in this case a cat.You can see the genealogy of your cat. Opposite are the details taken when she (!) was three days old. The “birth” is an experience in itself. You buy a box with your kitty in it and rezz it. You have to wait 15 minutes and you are presented with a dialogue such as ” Your kitty’s eyes are just opening and she is fumbling around” This goes on for 15 minutes detailing what would be the birth of a real kitten. You, well we did, you sit and wait and watch as the box starts to move. Then the kitten is born. A kind of reverse imprinting occurs.

A rapid learning process by which a newborn or very young animal establishes a behavior pattern of recognition and attraction to another animal of its own kind or to a substitute or an object identified as the parent.

The kitten is tiny and has a name. You can see its menu detailing its love, happiness, food status and age. You set its area of travel . She can sit on your shoulder during the first week . (Sorry having trouble with “she” and “it”).

This is a bundle of pixels. Yet psychological mechanisms are at work here. Throughout second life a process goes on whereby identity is given to an onscreen representation of yourself. Here an identity i.e. your cat is a being. It is a primitive expert system that responds to your input.

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This kind of behaviour is not uncommon in children. Their toys take on a life of their own with likes and dislikes, a pure projection of the child’s imagination. How much more real is having a “toy” that  has a degree of autonomy but is still dependent on you for love and food in order to grow and live? Bonding occurs. But the bonding is with the avatar so we are even further removed from the actuality. Isn’t this wonderful. first we have an identification with the avatar which becomes an extension of ourselves then we anthropomorphize even further to give life to a bundle of pixels.

 

Storm holding Ormond with Bronya on her shoulder Dude with Jiselle
Storm holding Ormond with Bronya on her shoulder Dude with Jiselle

 

You notice that set above the animals head is a menu. This shows the cats energy, love factor, happiness factor and if it is hungry. These change according to your interaction. The more you pet the cat the greater its happiness factor. In the first seven days your cat will grow. Initially she or he will sit on your shoulder but after six days will become to big to do this. Food is rezzed and the cat will find it (Its placed within the roaming range) . Your cat will roam around sniffing at things, cleaning itself and will chase butterflies from an emitter. There was an incident with Ormond where Storm (my partner) made a mistake with deeding him to the group. Ormond became sick and lay in his basket not eating and was covered with a blanket. It was quite upsetting.

Kill The Robot

In the 80s while researching expert systems I came across the following study, reference lost sorry. A small robot was created with LED lights and could traverse a counter top. It had sensors whereby when its batteries became low it would plug itself into a wall socket. It would emit “happy” beeping sounds and its lights would pulse and glow. A subject was asked to observe the robot then was given a hammer and told to “kill” it. It was after all just a bundle of transistors and servos. The subject was reluctant and the robot with the aid of proximity sensors was able to avoid the hammer. It could run away. Eventually the subject caught the robot a glancing blow disabling one of its wheels which began to leak oil. It ran around in circles bleeping. The subject became very distressed and demanded that the researcher kill the robot and put it out of its misery.

Eliza

Many of you might know of ELIZA (after Eliza Doolittle , Pygmalion)  created first in the 60s. It had a sub routine called DOCTOR. It was not AI but simulated it so well it became famous. Based on Rogerian psychotherapy a dialogue would go something like this:

Patient: “Everybody hates me”

DOCTOR: “Why do you think everyone hates you?”

Patient : Because my mother told them to”

DOCTOR “Tell me about your mother”

etc……key words could be identified or a response could be simply turning a statement into a question. It was phenomenal how people reacted. Some said when discovered using the program that it was confidential or personal even after having the program explained to them.

Paro, a robot used in the treatment of dementia.

Paro was developed by Takanori Shibata, a researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Paro is a therapeutic, pet-type robot with the appearance of a baby harp seal.

paro

Paro has tactile sensors and moves its tail and flippers and will respond by opening its eyes and moving its face toward the sound of voice. Paro’s sensors monitor sound, light, temperature and touch and Paro respond’s appropriately, such as responding to its name and being stroked.

Paro can show various emotions including surprise, happiness and anger, and Paro will cry if it is not receiving sufficient attention.

Anthropomorphism, or personification, is attribution of human form or other characteristics to anything other than a human being.  This isn’t good enough to explain what is going on here with cats.  (Got to laugh there is a group on Facebook: P.E.T.R.A: People for the Ethical Treatment of Robot Animals. ) Our cat are robots coz  they are exhibit AI. They have there own mechanisms to handle their environment and respond to avatar owners. They can be petted and will reward the avatar with an increase in happiness. Just as a real cat responds to stroking with purring. But all they are is a bundle of pixels.

 Suspension of Disbelief

Suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief is a term coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a “human interest and a semblance of truth” into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative. Suspension of disbelief often applies to fictional works of the action, comedy, fantasy, and horror genres, as well as in professional wrestling.

Can it apply here? We have already come some way with this with our avatars in second life we consider them to be real. We go beyond them being merely representations and almost have given them a life of their own. Our cats have a certain autonomy but just like their real counterparts need food and attention in order to flourish. We are also “fooled”  into bonding with them through psychological techniques. It is therefore easy to pretend they are real.

I think this is worthy of further study. I think second life itself is worthy of further study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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God Forbid

Rising damp is unsightly, potentially unhealthy, often leads to timber decay in older properties and causes heat loss due to the increased conductivity of the walls.

Thats me in all my poetic glory; unsightly, potentially unhealthy leading to decay. She walks in beauty like the night i creep up the timbers causing heat loss. If not treated early serious even terminal damage can be done.

This is all subliminal of course, when people make an insult or faux pas its not intended to hurt. But somehow the truth has bubbled to the surface without conscious effort.

Then too there is the rule that cannot be violated. You must never think “I wonder if my “partner” will like this? Will it turn him on? Will he sparkle when he sees me in it” OMG Forbid. Clothes are only ever to be worn to please oneself NEVER to take into account what another person might think. AND everyone thinks the same!! Well I don’t but I am only pernicious damp.

Then she is down the pub drinking and playing with trains then making puddings She tweets about it all while I, who have been up for hours hoping for a “date” insidiously rise intent on terminal damage.

You may have guessed I am very upset. Its not nice to be likened to rising damp especially NOT in a poetic way.

Then the theme song of hers “I’m no angel” that she dedicates to me. She wants me to drive her crazy her with all the street cred and me I guess the big toughie she doesn’t want to be treated softly, . she steals my diamonds and gives back gold. is this some sort of competition? and wants me to use spurs or she wants to and when you buy a bed you know exactly what it comes with. and maybe this wasn’t a joke, this is a sex rug…….

So you don’t give a darn about me
I never treat you bad
I won’t ever lift a hand to hurt you
and I’ll always leave you glad
So I might steal your diamonds
I’ll bring you back some gold
I’m no angel.

shes no angel

Ah well I’ll let it go. There’s no saying anything, she just gets upset and runs away.

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I Sometimes Despair

400 million died because of needless poverty in the last 22 years; 1 in 3 women raped or abused sometime in their lives; 200 million girls missing. [see GodKnows.info. ] Now we have a dog showing  more compassion than humans. We have a two year old girl run down; the van pauses then drives over her with the back wheels; passersby ignore her; traffic ignores her; another truck drives over her legs. THIS IS A TWO YEAR OLD CHILD!!!!!

What can you say? I am practically struck dumb. Future historians will view this period as a dark age. Inequality has never, in the history of humanity, been more blatant. Women, in the history of humanity, have never been more abused. Empathy in the history of humanity has never been more wanting. A street dog has more compassion. The crimes perpetrated by the rich, knowingly demanding an increase in wealth that destroys the poor has never been on such a scale as it is these days. Mens dominance over women, abusing them…oh I can’t go on…

Is anybody out there? Is anybody listening?

The Song Is Nelly Furtado who lives the life On September 27, 2011, Furtado announced during Free the Children‘s We Day Toronto, that she was giving $1,000,000 to Free the Children’s effort to build girls’ schools in the Maasai region of Kenya.

love this song perfect for zen pencils:

What they say what they say what they say

You speak out all you feel is defiance
All you need is some self-reliance
Cause this world is gonna always try us
And all you wanted was to run for cover
Well here’s looking to yourself and no other
We’re all searching for that special something
And we keep on running

We all have the choice to take the lead or follow
I want to feel the light shine on me

You’re so afraid of what people might say
But that’s okay cause you’re only human
You’re so afraid of what people might say
But that’s okay you’ll soon get strong enough
You’re so afraid of what people might say
But that’s okay cause you’re only human
You’re so afraid of what people might say
You’re going to break
So please don’t do it

You wanna spread your wings but you’re not sure
Don’t wanna leave your comforts
Wanna find a cure
We’re afraid of who we see in the mirror
We wanna let go but it feels too pure
Who wants to be alone in this world
You look around and all you see is hurt
But the light it always finds us
If we move with a little trust

A diamond don’t define what shine is
I don’t need a Rolex to know what the time is
You got your let me find what mine is
I’m a survivor look how strong my mind is
I stand on my own it’s all me
Regardless of whatever they call me

I’m a leader not a follower
And I’d rather be paid and popular
Ride homie get your dollars up
We’re in the belly of the beast that already swallowed us

The inspiration for the animation came from the following:

Sophie Scholl (1921-1943) was a German activist who is famous for speaking out against the Nazi regime. Scholl was a member of a protest group called The White Rose, which was formed by her brother Hans, and some of his university friends. The group mainly consisted of students in their early twenties who were fed up with the totalitarian rule of the government. The Nazis controlled every aspect of society – the media, police, military, judiciary system, communication system, all levels of education and all cultural and religious institutions. The White Rose distributed leaflets urging their fellow Germans to oppose the regime through non-violent resistance.

On 22nd February 1943, after the release of the sixth White Rose leaflet, Sophie, Hans and fellow member Christoph Probst were arrested by the Gestapo and convicted of treason. They were executed that same day by guillotine. Sophie was 21 years old.

From my mate Shaun Keaveny’s Breakfast show on BBC 6 music :

” The Duchy of Cornwall has issued a statement that their riders are too heavy for their horses.” The Duchy is worth over £400 million. Belonging to The Prince of Wales. 25,000 mainly kids are dying of avoidable poverty every day. These people are too fat are eating far to much to ride their horses. Quit rightly Shaun started taking the piss. THIS IS A Scandal .

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT!

 

All I know is this: the ravens kiss my mouth,

The veins are tangled here,

The sea is made of blood.

All I know is this: the hands reaching out,

My eyes are closed, my ears are closed.

The sky rejects my scream.

All I know is this: my nostrils drip with dreams,

The hounds lap us up, the fools laugh out,

The clock ticks out the dead.

All I know is this: my feet are sorrow here,

My words are less than lilies,

my words are clotted now

The ravens kiss my mouth.

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