did somebody say “robot love”?: on monsters and machines

“If behind popular fascination with Freudian theory there was a nervous, often guilty preoccupation with the self as sexual, behind increasing interest in computational interpretations of mind is an equally nervous preoccupation with the self as machine.”
Sherry Turkle

the words just tumbled out of my mouth: “you have no soul, you cold-hearted machine!” i may as well have called him a monster, an abnegation of his very humanity.

-yet it occurred to me, instantly, that i was contradicting the very essence of my research: that machines indeed bely an essence of warmth, a firelight (however virtual)- indeed, a campfire around which I’d been gathering with my friends (both “real-life” and fictive) for years. we humans are merely creatures of habit, adverse to change that outstretches our imaginations.

“Those who are opposed to the use of computers to teach generally believe the computers to be ‘cold’ and ‘inhuman.’ The teacher is considered ‘warm’ and ‘human.’ This view is questionable on both sides.”
— Theodor Nelson

In the spaces between two poles of prevailing ideology- the utopian discourses of society battling the forces of discord and chaostrophe- there is a middle ground, more subtle. Here is the exploration of human potential, animal language, the deep sea mysteries of the mind. Once in awhile, what is discovered uncovers the stories and dreams of a forgotten time and people.

Who are to be the ancient storytellers of tomorrow? What traces will we leave behind?

I once stayed up ’til dawn crying in front of my computer monitor, having spent the night exploring the MySpace profiles of the dead.

My first romantic love occurred online, faceless.

These things float through my mind, reminding me:


Who is to be monster?