Film review – ‘Cyborg’

Following my first film review on A New Hope, here is a second shorter post on The Cyborg, after being inspired to pick up on a theme from Matthew Taylor’s review of the same film (fearing technology):

The Cyborg

The Cyborg includes many aspects relevant to the themes we have been exploring, however one theme in particular struck me on rewatching it this week after a Twitter exchange: how/should we think about agency with regards to technology (for example, around the issues of fear and control, if we should even consider things in this way)?

The Cyborg portrays the ‘human’ exerting power over the ‘cyborg’ (the ‘human’ choosing its name and date of birth, as if it were a ‘tool’ without agency). This brings to mind the way technology is often seen as a ‘tool’ in education, rather than technology and education being ‘co-constitutive of each other, entangled in cultural, material, political and economic assemblages of great complexity’ (Bayne 2015: 18).

How, then, might we consider agency in this complex entanglement? Hayles (1999: 288) argues that ‘in the posthuman view…conscious agency has never been “in control”…distributed cognition replaces autonomous will’ and, in this talk and book, discusses the idea of the ‘cognitive nonconscious’.

I plan to dig further into how we might consider consciousness, cognition and agency with regards to technology and education as we continue with the course.

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The end of our first week on cyberculture

Today marks the end of an exciting first week!

Before we started, I set up Twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud and Pocket feeds and shared resources on artifical intelligence embracing social science, machines and cognition, posthumanism and a track and article demonstrating music and algorithms. This mix was intended to test out different feeds and save/share content to revisit later.

I began the first day reflecting on a short clip from Blade Runner, referencing the ‘more human than human’ quote mentioned in the Miller (2011) reading. As I worked through the readings and films, contemplating on the figure of the ‘cyborg’ through Haraway, I reconsidered my assumptions about the boundaries between ‘human’ and ‘machine’. This theme kept cropping up, while looking at the Voight-Kampff test in Blade Runner and during a Twitter exchange about ‘testing’ for a ‘human’.

This ‘human’/‘machine’ boundary was just one assumption I found myself deconstructing, encouraged by Sterne (2006: 24) to question, examine and reclassify categories and boundaries and avoid importing existing biases. Thinking about ‘feedback loops’ and questioning the ‘boundaries of the autonomous subject’ (Hayles 1999: 2) brought me to this video, and inspired my header image (the Mandelbrot set), a visualisation created through feedback and iteration. I went on to explore posthumanism through videos and readings from Braidotti and Hayles, reconsidering my ideas about autonomous will and the neutrality of the term ‘human’.

My journey this week had tangents (including the #AlgorithmsForHer conference) which I hope to revisit. I’ve sketched out my journey below…

EDC week 1
EDC week 1 (enlarge)

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Education and Digital Cultures 2020 begins with cybercultures

Today marks the start of Education and Digital Cultures 2020, and our first block exploring cybercultures. Welcome to everyone else studying this semester!

Ahead of our film festival tutorials this week, I’ve started with Vincent Miller’s chapter on the Body and Information Technology (from Understanding Digital Culture, 2011) which opens with this quote from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner:

Excited to further explore the blurring of boundary between human and machine in the coming days!