Robots as female fetishes and voodoo dolls

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Eva_Ex_Machina01In a Den of Geek article, filmmaker Alex Garland discussed his latest film, Ex Machina.  He had some interesting things to say about the story and the robotic main character, Ava, that caught my attention:

It’s partly an argument about the objectification of women in a particular way. In this sense, it’s a literal objectification.

Ava’s not actually a woman. She’s a machine that does not have a gender. So the question is, why is she presented as a girl in her early 20s? It’s because we fetishise girls in their early 20s. In a particular kind of way. Sometimes you read about that being shunted onto the media: advertising does it, film does it. It’s bullshit. It’s passing the buck. We all do it. Men do it and women do it. Right?

The reasons we do that are complicated, and I could make guesses as to why it is. But what seems to be beyond debate is that it does actually happen.

Women (in many countries, like the US) intentionally dress, use makeup and style their hair to fetishize themselves, even in socially- and politically-non-sexual situations (like office environments)—even as they demand to be seen as something more than fetish objects—and men, claiming to indeed see women as more than fetish objects, don’t actively discourage women from fetishizing themselves.  And science fiction goes the extra mile:  Objectifying women by robotizing them, as shown in Ex Machina, is as old as the first movies, and has become a rather tired trope of the genre that we cannot get away from, even today. Continue reading

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What deep concepts could Star Trek ponder next?

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Lokain and Bele

Emblematic of the issues Star Trek liked to delve in was the episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” about two members of the same race that hated each other because of their “obvious differences.”

There was an interesting question in IO9’s Postal Apocalypse mailbox this week, which “Postman” Rob Brickman decided to acknowledge as a great question… then pass on answering:

While many issues have been raised about how poorly Star Trek has tackled issues like gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity—and I certainly hope that we eventually get to see Federation citizens pursuing gay relationships and trans* individuals with no one batting an eye—it’s inspired me to wonder about how Star Trek could get out ahead of modern civil rights to tackle something our progressive civil rights movements have not reached yet. We’ve seen this in limited fashion with AI like Data and the EMH, where we explore what it is that constitutes an individual with equal rights and privileges, but I’m wondering about what might come after that. Hive-minds? The transfer of biological consciousness to a synthetic medium?

What’s the next, next generation of science fictiony rights issues that Star Trek could tackle when it someday returns to the small screen? What shape could egalitarianism take on in the 25th century?

I think the takeaway on that is that future fictional postmen in apocalyptic America couldn’t care less about Star Trek.  Clearly they realize how dated and obsolete the franchise is by then.  Nevertheless, I thought it was a great question, too, and would love to take a crack at a response. Continue reading

Sex and the robotics trade

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fembot-banner

You know you would.

Robotics has always had a very real dichotomy, a chasm separating the vision and the reality.  Where imagination has given us human-like robots like Parody, the Terminator, Data and Gigolo Joe… reality has given us auto factory welding machines.

Yet, as technology surges inexorably forward, and companies have taken to animatronicizing mannequins for tech and auto shows, the supposed likelihood of achieving robots that can substitute for humans remains just around that imaginary corner.

If we do turn that corner… will we find a red light district there? Continue reading

Developing the future of Sarcology

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Steven Lyle Jordan, author and futurist

Steven Lyle Jordan

I always develop most of a novel’s setting before I start writing it, and allow the writing process to flesh out a few cool details along the way.  As I’m currently hip-deep in my next novel, currently known by the project name of Sarcology, I’ve written most of those fine details, and find myself working in an environment that I can picture in my mind as if I’ve actually just returned from visiting there.  So I thought I would spell out a few details, to prepare you for the world of my upcoming novel. Continue reading

Concepts presented in Steven Lyle Jordan books

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A recent customer asked me to list the significant science and engineering elements that have been featured in my novels.  The idea was that the list would give an idea about the kind of science I was interested in, and the general slant of my books.  This is not to suggest I “invented” all of these ideas myself; but some of them are unique and created by me, or independently of its use in other books.

Once I finished the list, I thought it was a pretty good list to share… so, here goes: Continue reading