A quote from Geoffrey Bowker in a recent article at STS Italia journal Technoscienza reflecting on our relationships with viruses:
The general point for me here about stuckness and knowledge is that we look at the world wrongly from the beginning if we break it up into separate entities. The theory of evolution is just wrong if it only accounts for the origin of species. What is much more interesting is the development of relationships – as in Michel Serres’ discussion of the parasite form as central. In a related context, Martin Buber argued that the relationship — to thou or that — was always prior. We murder to dissect… at any level… within or without the organism. There are reasons why many biologists say the species concept is unreal: there is no singular slicing apart of a set of entities. We interpenetrate.
In a brilliant article at MIT Technology Review, Tate Ryan-Mosley gives an overview of the history and challenges of face and beauty filters that are popular on social media apps and platforms:
The face filters that have become commonplace across social media are perhaps the most widespread use of augmented reality. Researchers don’t yet understand the impact that sustained use of augmented reality may have, but they do know there are real risks—and with face filters, young girls are the ones taking that risk. They are subjects in an experiment that will show how the technology changes the way we form our identities, represent ourselves, and relate to others. And it’s all happening without much oversight.
He also mentions an interesting bit of history of face filter technology that originated in Japan:
These real-time video filters are a recent advance, but beauty filters more broadly are an extension of the decades-old selfie phenomenon. The movement is rooted in Japanese “kawaii” culture, which obsesses over (typically girly) cuteness, and it developed when purikura—photo booths that allowed customers to decorate self-portraits—became staples in Japanese video arcades in the mid-1990s. In May of 1999, Japanese electronics manufacturer Kyocera released the first mobile phone with a front-facing camera, and selfies started to break out to the mainstream.
The “Institute of Human Obscolescence” is creating thought provoking speculative fiction artwork about changes in labour from advances in artificial intelligence and possible “human obscolescence”.
One project is called “biological labour” and envisages how bodies may produce elecricity for mining cryptocurrency:
A single human body at rest radiates 100 watts of excess heat. We created a body-suit that uses thermoelectric generators to harvest the temperature differential between the human body and ambient and converts it into usable electricity. The electricity generated is then fed to a computer that produces cryptocurrency.