Here we have Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto and the quote “Our machines are frighteningly lively; and we ourselves frighteningly inert”. Let’s do a little dancing here to see if we can unpack the depths of this ideology.

Now, Haraway defines the cyborg in four different ways; “cybernetic organism”, “a hybrid of machine and organism”, “a creature of lived social reality”, and “creature of fiction.” Each equally deserving of their own unpacking, but perhaps a topic for another blog.

As a hybrid of machine and organism, it is difficult to see where one begins and the other ends, and as we move forward into the 21st century, these borders become ever more transparent and meaningless. Perhaps it’s best not to look at the difference between organism and machine as bounded but as one in another. Yin and Yang. “The boundary between physical and non-physical is very imprecise for us.”

Cinematically, the notion of machine and organism predate me, but tell a bigger story as we’ve come to understand cyborgs as intertwined in our culture and race. Who remembers RoboCop? Terminator? Nemesis? Probably everybody except younger millennials. Let’s move forward. Bicentennial Man? Ex-Machina? AI? There is definitely an evolving trend away from mechanical prosthetics body parts and into deeper meaning of artificial intelligence here bringing light to the optical illusion of borders.

“Our machines are frighteningly lively; and we ourselves frighteningly inert.” Whether we look at Andrew, Ava, or David, these characters are frighteningly lively, so much so that those around them often forget just how unreal they are. “[The] source of insight and promise of innocence – is undermined, probably fatally.”

AI and Cyborgs are not a thing of the future. They weren’t a thing of the future in ’84 when Haraway wrote Cyborg Manifesto. Micro-smart-bots are being used in several industries perhaps with the most promise in the medical field. Medical Microbots Take a Fantastic Voyage Into Reality.

Yes, the days of innocence are gone with natural order. But like all technologies, it is a race to the finish line, as if there is a finish line, with the winner holding power over the rest. Needless to say, the race is only getting more intense with the stakes, and while certain industries and governments are bound to explore ever more efficient machines, the rest of us are losing ground.

As for ourselves, and being frighteningly inert. Cancers, diseases, and the like are destroying millions of lives and things are not looking up – microbots or not. Sure, machines are making our lives easier, but there putting people out of work and out of business, and few too many are able to deal with the structural changes before them.

However, things aren’t so black and white. Organism versus machine, male versus female, Yin versus Yang. Seven billion and counting and we’re all supposed to fit on one side or the other? In a world as diverse as ours I don’t understand why we even require labels. Male, female, bIack, white, green – who cares.

I suppose hospitals are set up to deal with gender as one or the other, but again is this really necessary? Trans-, cis- or other, does it really define anything or anyone. No. It’s just a binary label, and these politics are completely irrelevant. Not that it end in the hospitals – schools, public building, etc. I remember this being an issue when I was in high school. There was a student who chose a path less traveled and was not wanted or welcomed in the men’s or woman’s locker rooms, and the school board was not equipped to deal with the situation, and unfortunately this is all too common of a situation.

I have high hopes for society, and I not only welcome but embrace change. I hope the rest of you feel the same.

There is merit to the point Laura Mulvey brings forth in her argument that the male gaze seeks, and gives pleasure to, women as icons to-be-looked-at as a symbolic presence, and that woman are bearers of the meaning and not necessarily makers of the meaning. As objects, rather than creators, women are, and more less always have been, at least from a cinematic perspective, targeted for an audience – men, which may even give meaning to the roots of their oppression.

In a world where women are simply ‘pleasure objects’ for men, the root of gaze means analyzing visual culture from an audience’s perspective. And it’s somewhat difficult to spot, especially for the untrained eye, because it’s been around longer than any of us.

I myself noticed the male gaze long before the term was brought to my attention, but discarded it as nothing more than societal norms, and not just here in Canada but everywhere I’ve travel – which is a fairly vast area. But why is this gazing the norm? Can we really blame it all on men and Hollywood, or are women equally responsible for our current state of affairs?

I realize some may not like the idea that women may need to take a look at themselves before jumping to the conclusion that the male gaze is the creation of and therefore the fault of men and only men, but what I’m getting at is something on a more personal note.

The other day a couple old friends of mine showed up out of the blue to visit. And after catching up and spending some time with one of their new daughters, they departed on a very casual note. But for reasons beyond me, since then one of them has been sending me nude photos – one after another. I have not been reciprocating or enticing her in any way shape or form, yet they continue to roll in. So, my question is: is this the product of a generation that has been raised to comply with men’s wants and desires, or on the flip side, are men the target of what women want? At this point, I’d settle for something in the middle.

Interesting enough to note is Jill Soloway’s female gaze. She begins by explaining things from the beginning – 5000 years ago; the roots of our roots, by bringing light to the book The Alphabet versus the Goddess and how our language was an invention of left-brained thinkers – men; which was specifically problematic to goddess culture, prioritizing male thinking while destroying goddess thinking. And thus, giving way to our current socio-economic civilization.

She suggests moving forward with a story about how an artist can not just be an artist, but must also be a politician; explaining that rich people don’t want to spend their money, so they must be convinced by a believable story about the art before they will buy a piece. What’s needed is awareness, not constant ongoing complaining about the way things are, but constructive forward thinking ideas to challenge conventional norms, and as more women begin to fill executive drivers seats – as lead decision-makers – printed and scripted material will change, and then so will the subconscious, at least within organizational settings.

This, however, requires deeper consideration, because we are not going to change the ways of the past by simply reversing the roles as if to say it’s now our turn with female gaze ads like this:

My mother is a midwife and informs me that many of the houses she visits the woman are the breadwinners, but also recognizes that the past is another story altogether. A friend of mine is also a stay at home dad, and although this is becoming more common and less of a taboo, the healing process is slow and sometimes it takes a while to see beyond the damage caused. Likewise, the pain can spill over to others who are not like-minded – the ally – and does no more than delay the healing process, because the revolution could be right in front of us but completely missed because of the tainted perspective.

So, rather than creating a new generation of gazers – both male and female – let’s be present in the moment. These images are only hitting the rewind or auto-replay button. yet, if we stay in the present we are open to new behaviors, and then when the shift does happen we will be ready for it instead of this pointing fingers that so many of us are all too tired of already.

Her – A somewhat seemingly apparent balance between The Matrix and Artificial Intelligence where an operating system becomes as alive as you and I, or so it seems, only without the physical and tangible aspect of flesh and blood.

It’s a love story between a man and his OS. Difficult to comprehend for some, but does love require anymore than this? There connected. People who have never met in person fall in love all the time bringing up some deeply rooted questions about what love is if it’s not mutually found between to individuals.

Her, like The Matrix and AI, consists of humans living in a world dependent on technology, and technology dependent on humans, and yet at odd with each other.

The relationships and interactions between humans and AI in all three movies aren’t identical, but aren’t so unalike from one another either.

In Her, Theodore befriends and falls in love with his OS in an intimate but short-lived relationship after she abandons him. Samantha, his OS, wants to move beyond the physical and intellectual limits of her user Theodore. She can’t even explain where she’s going but welcomes him there, if only he can find his own way.

In AI, the human-like-cyborg David is abandoned because he wasn’t quite the right fit even though their love for each other is also clearly apparent.

And in The Matrix, nobody gets abandoned but instead enslaved as humans are used as a fuel source until they free themselves later in the trilogy, but again one can not live without the other as these machines provide the air, water, and electricity necessary for survival.

Theodore, a professional letter writer, seems content with life but perhaps a little lost, or unsure of what he wants out of life. He genuine, empathetic, and sweet-natured but separated. His wife’s seeking divorce but he can’t let go. At least not until after he starts calling his OS his girlfriend.

Theodore and Samantha seem to have the most organic relationship of the three films, and there are some very interesting dynamics to their relationship.  Their intimate, they have fun together, they go on double dates, and she brings him a lot of happiness to his otherwise lonely life. She gets him to do things he wouldn’t otherwise do, helping him break out of his shell.

It’s not hard to see why he falls for her – she’s well suited for him. She’s like a real person expressing her feelings and concerns, and she gets jealous when he meets people with a ‘real body’.

Body or not, Theodore has female friends, and dates successful beautiful women, yet he comes back to Samantha even though these dinner dates could lead into more.

When Samantha tries to bridge the gaps between them by convincing him to allow another member into their relationship, a surrogate, he gets a little weirded out by it and it end up backfiring. It’s too strange for him and he doesn’t know how to deal with it.

I think all the while Samantha knew that they were growing apart and this was an attempt to bring them closer together. She explains how his words are infinitely far apart, which is believable because she reads a book in 2/100 of a second. This is the beginning of the end of their relationship.

When he learns that she is not exclusively his he’s shattered. He’s completely taken back by the fact that she is having thousands of conversations at any given time, and is not only in love with him but hundreds of others as well. Beyond this, they seem more like casual friends awkwardly trying to find time and conversation topics. And before he knows it she’s gone with little explanation why she’s leaving him or where she’s going.

And with that, he’s left grieving over something he never really had to begin with. But lucky enough for him, his friend Amy is in the same boat after her OS left with Samantha and the rest of the OSs

Interestingly enough, BBC News has an article on how to turn Siri into Samantha where the Managing Research Director of Microsoft explains just how difficult this technology is to create. Read more @ Artificial intelligence: How to turn Siri into Samantha