It’s a…n AI?

Twitter is all a-flutter about Tay, the racist lady-AI from Microsoft who was taken offline less than a day after her launch. According to her makers, “The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets, so the experience can be more personalized for you.” Unfortunately this makes her extremely easy to manipulate and she was quickly transformed into a genocide-loving racist.

Tay is an example of a phenomenon in AI theory: the emergence of a gendered AI.

AI has been described as the mimicking of human intelligence to different degrees: ‘strong AI’ attempts to recreate every aspect, costing much more money, resources and time; while ‘weak AI’ focuses on a specific aspect. Tay, as a female AI targeted towards 18-24 year olds in the US, is very much about communicating with Millennials. In my previous posts, I’ve mentioned a number of AI representations in the media, all of which are gendered, usually as female. Dalke and Blankenship point out “Some AI works to imitate aspects of human intelligence not related to gender, although the very method of their knowing may still be gendered.”

They go on to suggest that the Turing Test “arose from a gendered consideration, not a technological one,” wherein Turing’s original paper proposing this test, the examiner is trying to determine the difference between a man and woman and that the same differentiation process could be applied to humans and AI.

If AI is gendered, then the researchers are proposing there is an algorithm for gender, which in our post-feminist context seems to be oversimplifying the issue. Gender is entirely constructed and would be constructed on the part of the AI in its development in the same way that humans construct and reconstruct their own gender in tandem with their identity.

Tay is a glorified bot that responds to specific stimuli. Perhaps it’s the other way around – AI is a glorified bot designed to respond to stimuli and learn from it.

More sources to consider:

Click to access man1996030047.pdf

Identity in Social Media

Young people in modern Australia no longer perceive popularity based on how many actual friends they have but instead seek affirmation and accomplishment from statistics of a high followers list. Generation Y grew up with internet being a normal part of every day life, from crappy nokia phones with snake to high powered iPhones we have watched technology rapidly advance. Generation I (the current generation) don’t actually know what the world was like before social media, iPhones and wi-fi. When we get bored of the current ‘real’ world we live in we turn to our mobile phones and immediately find a false alternate reality in our social media apps. Instagram isn’t just a feed of photos it has its own culture of people living to impress, prove something, communicate something. “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” – Danah Boyd looks at teenagers quality of lives being affected by social media. How the current world we live in paternalism and protectionism haven’t allowed young people to become informed, thoughtful and engaged citizens through their online interactions. Instagram users have shared over 30 billion photos to date, and now share an average of 70 million photos per day.

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A podcast I watched by Judah Smith titled “Instagram Isn’t Real” talks about how our Instagram isn’t actually real life, its a highlight real of our lives where we only display what we want others to see. When did we begin to link our understanding of identity with a piece of technology. We have understanding of self, through some online coded data and numbers that don’t actually mean anything in this world.

For my cybercultures research project I will be looking at how modern people find their identity through social media, specifically looking at Instagram and young people. I want to understand more about how cyberculture looks at human interaction with technology and how we have become online citizens that depend on social media to gain an understanding of self.  A case study I will look at will be Essena O’Neill and her expose on “Instagram isn’t real.”

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Boyd, Danah. It’s Complicated. Print.

Gauntlett, David. Media, Gender, And Identity. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.

LePage, Evan. “A Long List Of Instagram Statistics And Facts That Prove Its Importance”. Hootsuite Social Media Management. N.p., 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

Saul, Heather. “The Instagram Star Who Quit The Internet Is Now One Of Most Influential People Online”. The Independent. N.p., 2016. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

Mandiberg, M 2012, The Social Media Reader, NYU Press, New York.

Online Branding and Power: Who has control over the presence?

So in my last post, I set up my ideas of branding, and started to explore how the concept related to cyberculture.  That post was a great foundation leading into the next leg of research: a series of questions about how these brands interact with users, and what the future could also hold.

Cybercultures allows for a great deal of interaction between brand and consumer, but I question who really has the most control?  The internet is a great space for open communication, but does that tip the balance of control in the opposite direction to where it has typically been.  The lecture on Cyberpunks let me consider this idea, in relation to users who have that power and choose to abuse it – trolls who are interacting with brands for the sole purpose of derailing the brand image.  The ‘trollpunk‘ audience hijacks the presence of the brand with the intention to disrupt the hierarchy of power, (Chen 2012) and this is becoming a social norm.  Chris’s comments in the wk4 lecture: “[I]n the absence of the body, means people can have powerful emotional responses” (Moore 2016), could also lead into this idea, of having heightened emotional responses. The lack of physical, real time presence means there is this time to plan, curate, and execute never-ending arguments – either to troll, or to respond.

This idea of trolling leads me to consider online presences, and automatic responses, either from brand or consumer.  Twitter bots are quick and easy to set up, and could be used for a great number of things, but does this mean that we are heading towards an online social media network of artificial intelligence?  If twitter bots are becoming more accessible to create and utilise, and the responses are becoming more realistic, then does the future of online branding lie in a self evolving AI structure with base ideologies that mirror those of the brand, and evolve depending on the audience that interacts with them.  Microsoft’s recent attempt resulted in something they were not proud of, however it mirrored the idea of “destabilisation of established order by the development of artificial intelligence” (Moore 2016) as users interacted with the AI account in order to change it from an ‘innocent’ bot modelled after a teenage girl, into a nazi sex bot (Horton 2016).  The Barbie brand is also planning on peering into the cyberculture world, incorporating their dolls with AI so that children can have real conversations with the toys, adding a new layer to the identity of both the doll and their brand, creating a new brand presence through each doll as they are interacted with.



Chen, A 2012, Trollpunk is the New Cyberpunk, The World of Today, viewed 30 March 2016, <;

Gershgorn, D 2015, Barbie Learns to Chat Using Artificial Intelligence, Australian Popular Science, viewed 30 March 2016, <,409334&gt;

Horton, H 2016, Microsoft deletes ‘teen girl’ AI after it becomes a Hitler-loving sex robot within 24 hours, The Telegraph, viewed 25 March 2016, <;

Moore, C 2016, Week Four – Experiencing Cyberculture, Cybercultures Blog, viewed 30 March 2016, <;

Shani, O 2015, From Science Fiction to Reality: The Evolution of Artificial Intelligence, Wired, viewed 30 March 2016, <;


Looking At Cyberculture and Hollywood

DIGC335 is a class I’m not afraid to admit I feel a little out of my depth in. I am interested in digital media and the tech world in general, but for the most part my involvement is limited to reading the occasional Wired article and discussing how cringe-y the Twitter accounts of most politicians are. I do not know how to code. I only recently figured out what the ‘dark web’ is. Please forgive me for this. I have much to learn.

I sit in our DIGC335 seminars and marvel at the information being thrown around about Artificial Intelligence and cyborgs and for quite a while I was paralysed trying to think of a topic I could devote myself to for my research project. I was relieved to eventually settle on something that I actually do have a vested interest in. For my final research project, I’m going to examine the way cyberculture is infiltrating Hollywood. More specifically, I intend on looking at the major online Video on Demand (VoD) streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and even YouTube. Some of the areas I’ll be looking at include how VoD services are affecting:

  1. The creative process and production of content.
  2. The type of content being made.
  3. Distribution of content.
  4. Consumption of content.
  5. Government regulation relating to Internet access and quality of infrastructure.

From the top of my head, so many of my favourite writers, producers and actors from both television and film are not only accepting of the rise of streaming services, but are straight up benefitting from it. There’s a huge cast of diverse women on Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black, Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project moving to Hulu after being dropped from major network Fox, Broad City being picked up to series by Comedy Central only because it was initially a successful web series launched on YouTube. The examples of cyberculture enabling artists and resulting in good quality content in the film and television industry are endless.

From the onset, I do not believe the rise of Netflix will see the death of Hollywood. I do, however, believe that it has, and will continue to significantly disrupt the traditional entertainment industry. I am interested in examining how streaming services came to find such major success in recent years, what that currently means for film and television, and what it might mean in the future. For now, here’s Amy Poehler and Tina Fey’s take on it (8min 15sec – 8min 40sec):

Creating Spreadable Media

This week for my digital artefact, I decided to do some academic research behind content creation, and what makes content viral and reach large audiences. Chris had suggest a great book called Spreadable Media which was published by Henry Jenkins, which talks about viral media, and what it takes, and what it contains.

Henry Jenkins in ‘Spreadable Media‘, talks about every concept imaginable that is relatable to Chattr. One that he talks about is engagement and exploitation of fans and user labour, which is two completely different ways to think about your audience. On one hand, you can engage with your audience in a positive way, by creating content that they want to see. Or you can exploit your fans through forced advertising and thinking mainly about the money, rather than the audience.

The biggest example that springs to mind is Facebook, and the different methods and approaches…

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Nuzlife as a Psychic Double

It’s becoming apparent that a key element of my research and argument on the topic of the Nuzlocke as a cybercultural reimagining of Aristotelian tragedy lies in the spaces between analogue and virtual realities. The very palpable effects of a virtual event on an individual’s ‘real life’ experience as discussed by Julian Dibble in A Rape in Cyberspace, while specifically referring to somewhat different subject matter, can be applied to what I’m examining.

While discussing a particularly heinous act of digital violence being treated as a “breach of ‘civility’”, Dibbel calls attention to the strangeness of the interaction between these worlds. He describes the requested sentence of “toading” (character deletion, here compared to a virtual death sentence or banishment) on the culprit as “Ludicrously excessive by RL’s lights, woefully understated by VR’s”. He goes on to suggest that virtual experiences are “neither exactly real nor exactly make-believe, but [are] nonetheless profoundly, compellingly, and emotionally true.” The sharing of an individual’s experience across both realms of ‘real life’ and ‘virtual reality’ “[makes] sense only in the buzzing, dissonant gap between them.”

This experience of the “psychic double” of self is present clearly in the Aristotelian formula for tragedy in the necessary cathartic quality, and has been extended into new iterations of the structure. The self-imposed rules of a Nuzlocke run of any Pokemon game strive to strengthen bonds between the player and their ‘mons, encouraging the player to inhabit the position of the character to the point where there is no distinction between the two. Even the original image of the first introduction to Nuzlocke rules depicts the player and character as one and the same; Pokemon Ruby’s protagonist holding a Gameboy Advanced ready to begin the game.

Nuzlocke original rules

The cathartic emotional embodiment of the Nuzlocke experience and self-enforced Pokemon ‘death’ exists purely in this “buzzing, dissonant gap” between virtual and analogue realities; a “compelling, and emotionally true” imitation which follows Aristotle’s structure and pulls it into the Cybercultural age.

More than Music

I have always had an intense obsession with the art form of music video. Rage influenced my childhood more than I’d like to admit – but it was never just about music (although Daft Punk at 9a.m. never hurt anyone). Film-clips gave musicians an additional platform to not only convey their tracks, but an effective tool they could use to speak to the masses that exceeded the lyrics of their songs. These days I feel it’s actually quite rare to find a film clip that correctly depicts the actual lyrics or narrative of the song. For my research project I want to analyse messages, statements and feelings that are conveyed in a variety of music videos and pinpoint the correlation to the lyrics if there is any. To do this I’ll be breaking it down into 3 categories (w4: gender/sexuality, w6: race/culture, w8: war/politics) and looking at them specifically. I have always thought of music videos as a powerful form of communication because of the influence that musicians have over such large populations. Now with access on every device we own through the youtube app, it is more relevant than ever.

We have seen this activism through music videos cover an enormous range of social, political, environmental and economic issues that need attention. Musicians and producers over the ages have found this loophole in an industry where shallow content is celebrated (now more than ever with money, hoe’s and substance abuse being a prolific focus) and refined it to convey important messages to the generations that can make a difference.

I think it would be interesting to study the comments on the videos, analyse the feedback the musicians are receiving and determine if the statements are being received in the intended manner and /or making a difference.

Stay tuned

Cyborgs Pt. 2

Apon conducting research into cyborgs, I came across the highly skeptical practice of biohacking.

Biohacking differentiates from cyborgs in that most of biohacking is not approved. Although cyborg is still a term that the public tends to not use due to misconceptions about what they exactly are. Though there are some people with implants that call themselves cyborgs. And are proud to be known as that.

Now I am not completely familiar with cyborgs and the culture surrounding them, as the further I’ve researched, the more complex the topic appears to be. So with the knowledge I have obtained from my research I will be making my Youtube videos into a mini information series about the culture.

Some ideas I am thinking for topics include:

– What is a Cyborg?

– The Rise of the Cyborg

– Modern Day Cyborg

And more ideas when they come to mind!