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FleshFactor: brief comments

A E C  F O R U M - "F L E S H F A C T O R"

I'll grab this temporary lull in the deluge of fascinating ideas to
comment briefly om a couple of issues raised: 

> Dori Mondon wrote:

>-somehow, though, I don't know if I'd find myself crying if my
tamagotchi died... 

Maybe, but some people apparently do. This picked up from the RISKS
Digest (I think):

> PA News May 22, 1997 16:03:00

> Heartbroken Tamagotchi computer pet owners may need bereavement
> counselling to help them get over the "virtual" deaths of the little
> gizmos, experts said today.  ...  

According to the article,

* Dr Daniel DeSouza, of Toronto, Canada says the children may grieve over
the "death" of these "pets." 

* He has set up a support group on the Internet to help bereaved owners. 

* Dr Sidney Crown of the Royal London Hospital said that "lonely children
are most at risk." 

* At Nottingham Trent University, Dr Mark Griffiths, an expert in
addiction to computer games, supported these concerns. 

[the comment from the poster of this snippet said: "This is no different,
as far as I can see, from weeping over the death of creatures existing
only in books and in our imagination." 

I'd go further for the purposes of our discussion and say this has
something interesting to say not so much about the barrenness of some
young people's modern, urban, chihuaua-less existence as about the human
capacity for investing emotion in inanimate as well as animate objects. I
don't know if I'd cry if someone stole my Mac; angry, pissed off at the
inconvenience and work involved, insurance hassles and so on, yes, but
less real grief than if my snapshot collection or the basket I bought with
my girlfriend in Lombok, or my first Action Man from 1968 were lost, for

So what might it take for our computers (or anything else mass produced
and replaceable) to be invested with a similar degree of emotional


At the risk of opening up the discussion yet further, I just came
across a highly provocative and pertinent interview with (among others
I have yet to check out) John Lilly, in the Mavericks of the Mind
(www.lycaeum.org/~maverick/frames11.htm) site. Well worth a look if you
are interested in just how far out you can go if you use perhaps the
earliest human technology - plant spirits, or devas - for the
enhancement of human identity (along with medicinal, divinatory, and
gastronomic uses of course).


Oh, and El Mexterminator:

(Today, I'm tired of ex/changing identities in the net. 
>In the past 8 hours, I've been a man, a woman and a s/he. 
>I've been black, Asian, Mixteco, German and a multi-hybrid replicant.
>I've been 10 years old, 20, 42 & 65. 
>I've spoken 7 broken languages. 
>I need a break real bad; just want to be myself for a few minutes.

>ps #1 : my body however remains intact, untouched, unsatisfied, 

>ps #2 : still unable to "interact" with you.

Why, in God's name, do you do this? Are you a sleeper for marketing
message placements in newsgroups, by any chance? 

Am I the only one to find this boast/confession rather sad? Mex mate, that
thing at the other end of the room, you know, the sort of 'oblong wooden
panel' - it's called a door. Use it; go outside. Ask *anyone* you meet in
the street if they give a shit about your existential dilemma, if they lie
awake at night worrying about the encroachment of technology on the human
domain, if their identity is at all impinged upon, compromised by or
otherwise any the less secure in the knowledge that MUDs exist. 

Losing their job aged 40 and with no prospect of another one, marrying a
member of a different class or racial group, fleeing or choosing to live
in a foreign culture, losing a limb or mobility, being preganant maybe.
Fleshfactors indeed.

Some of us take the freedom to choose to care about this stuff to be some
sort of carte blanche to see themselves as heroic pioneers. It's all,
ultimately, irrelevant. Just stuff. And speculations about an essentially
unknowable future of stuff. 

Now I've enjoyed the discussions about AIs, minds, conscious computers
and so on as much as anyone, but sometimes I'm reminded of the old
belief that books had a consciousness, that names had power and that
images could be craven. Actually come too think of it - no, it's late
and I could go on for hours.

greetings from Amsterdam, City of Irritation.


 Jules Marshall

 Hobbemakade 75
 1071 XN Amsterdam
 Tel: +31 (0) 20 675 5811

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