Category Archives: Science/Technology

The My-Stery: Animism, Cybernetics and Adaptability

“Android/Negroid # 1” by Wayne Hodge

Ever since my mother received her smart phone, she has constantly been coming to me with numerous questions about how to use it. She has such a difficult time adapting to how it works no matter how many times I show her. No matter how much she uses the smart phone, I don’t think she fully connects or pays attention to it in order to learn. She cannot learn how to use the smart phone if she does not open herself to learning how to use it. Half the time when I am showing her what to do, I am not exactly sure what I am doing myself; I am figuring it out as I go along based on a set of knowledge I have learned already from smart phones and just playing around with it. I try to work with the phone based on how it might move or based on the signs it gives.

Sometimes, I think she sees technology as a magic device that will just do for her and she doesn’t want to take the energy to work with it, to move with it. Sometimes, I think that she thinks of God in that way, too. God is somewhat detached from herself as much as the technology is and she lets it remain that way. This experience with my mother stirred my thoughts on our interaction with God (or higher spirit) and technology. Maybe we should see God (or higher spirit) much like the character Lauren Olamina does in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. If “God Is Change,” I have to learn its fundamentals and adapt with it. I have to interconnect with it as if it is a part of me, as if we are extensions of each other, that I have to attach it to me and bend it to my image to survive and grow as much as it bends and changes my image. As for technology, it should be looked at in a similar fashion. It adapts to you as much as you adapt to it.

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The My-Stery: Why STEM Fields Need an A(rt)…

Picture from boxset of science films of Jean Painlevé

A few days ago I witnessed a twitter battle between astrologist Sam F. Reynolds and Science Nerd/Blogger Rai Elise on November 5th (click on view conversation to read her tweets) over the legitimacy of astrology and the conversation highlighted some important and common conflicts between art fields and science/math/technology fields. Reynolds says some key things in his argument that I wanted to spotlight (I rearranged the tweets):

“Science is only as good as its tools, like everything else…The tools of science have their limits like anything else. People seek astrology for meaning. Science may do that less for ppl.”

“I don’t have a hope of an objective reality. Even with our scientific tools, we see the cosmos as we are…It’s not objective reality we’re talking about. It’s consensual reality…We’re not talking about tools of science, but what inspires them and the net meaning derived from them”

About electricity: “That’s still a consensual use of a force that most of animal kingdom has no use for. Not free of subjectivity”

“You say it’s not true, but do we have independent & known perceptions of things from other species on this planet?”

“Astrology ultimately comments on behavior using planets as references…Astrology isn’t about studying nature, but the study of human nature as symbolized by celestial phenomena…The natural world has its motions, but how we assign meaning is the province of all other arts. Are they less important? …Astrology is poetry applied to celestial events. What’s to prove with poetry?”

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Modern Griots Reviews: Apeshit + The Creation of the Humanoids – The Politics of Obsolescence

From The Creation of the Humanoids

This morning I heard that communication companies are attempting to rid us of phone landlines and replace them with wireless service only, and it reminded me of the two films I saw last night, Leah Gilliam‘s movie Apeshit and Wesley E. Barry‘s The Creation of the Humanoids.

Gilliam spoke at the showings of the film about her use of “obsolete technology” in creating a film using 8mm reduction film print of Battle for the Planet of the Apes and the hosts of the event finding also spoke of finding the rare print of Barry’s film. But the old technology also correlated with the themes of obsolescence in both films.

As mentioned here, Gilliam’s use of old film formats and technologies, including silent film dialogue cards, created a conversation around political ideologies and rhetoric that are now out-of-date, such as the ideas of tolerance, inferiority of different beings and assimilation.

Barry’s film, instead of having the humans and the alienness of humanized apes, has it between humans and androids. After an atomic war kills of over 90% of the humans on the planet, the humans left begin creating robots to compensate. But there is an antagonism between the androids, who are disparagingly called “the clickers,” and some of the humans. But the twist at the end is that some of the humans who think they are humans, are actually androids. They found out that there has been a secret process to transfer the memories and experiences of the humans left into robotic bodies through a “thalamic transplant” to keep them living because human bodies are becoming “obsolete” after the atomic bomb.

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Modern Griots Reviews: Black Girls Code

Me and Bryant

Me and Bryant

Where was Black Girls Code when I was younger?! Event today, black women make up less than 3% of the STEM industries and other women of color is lower, less than 1%.

Last Thursday, I attended the showing of the Black Girls Code short documentary and fundraising event. Already having taught over 1500 girls across the country, the organization wants to change those statistics above and hope to reach one million all over the world by 2040, maybe earlier, 2020.

The organization’s founder, Kimberly Bryant, an electrical engineer, created the non-profit after noticing the lack of women, specifically women of color in these fields, and recognizing that her daughter, Kai, was using the technology, but not creating it. Besides that, with computer classes costing thousands of dollars and lack of computer science in grade schools, it is difficult for younger children from lower class backgrounds to obtain that knowledge. Through summer camps, class, 6-7 week Saturday classes, mobile labs, and working with other organizations and schools, they want to open the doors of opportunity for them.

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Otherworldly Videos: Hip-Hop and Science Fiction

Ethiopian-American rapper Gabriel Teodros of group Copperwire, gives a speech about hip-hop, media corporations and technology, activism, and afrofuturism. Some of the quotable parts from it:

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Otherwordly Videos: The All-Seeing Eye of Authority

Living in a world where there is an increasing usage of drones, it forces you to wonder how machines are and will be used to track, arrest and even kill people here and abroad, and the ethics behind using them. Below are two sci-fi films that face these concerns:

The RavenChris Black possesses a power that could lead to the destruction of the current regime, and they will stop at nothing to destroy him. The chase is on as Chris runs for his life in this sci-fi thriller set in an alternate and futuristic Los Angeles.

Drone – Trailer for the YOMYOMF Network’s sci-fi/action webseries “DR0NE.” In the near future, war drone technology has advanced and a new weapon has been unleashed – a humanoid drone stronger and faster than any soldier. But in the aftermath of a mysterious incident, a damaged battle drone is forced to go on the run with its programmer to try and take down their corrupt commander.

Watch episodes here.


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The My-Stery: We Fear Our Own Creations — From God/dess to “Dr. Funkenstein’ to ‘Monster’

Parliament – “Children of Production”

Recently, I read Therí A. Pickenspieces about Kanye West’s “Monster” and it inspired my own thoughts on “Monster” from the view of Frankenstein, which led me to listen to songs from Parliament’s The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein. I wondered how all of these strands of ideas fit together.

These stories reveal the fear that we as humans have not only of the other, but the fear of our own creations and further the fear of our own selves as creations. For creation, and by association knowledge and technology, is ambiguous in that it is both constructive and destructive to our lives. Creators can be seen as both heroes and rebels, both creators and creations. But its how we confront that which makes the difference.

The story of Frankenstein was originally called The Modern Prometheus. Prometheus in Greek mythology is known as a trickster god who is credited with creating humans and bringing them fire, the spark of life. As a trickster god, Prometheus deviated from the norm by rebelling against Zeus and through creation of a hybrid creature who is part god (breath, fire, knowledge or spirit of god) and part human (made from physical matter, clay or dirt of earth). In Biblical stories, both Adam and Jesus can be considered hybrid figures as well (Jesus as well can be considered technology or a technologist). Other trickster-creators include Isis (she put Osiris back together after Set dismembered him and created a hybrid child, Horus) and Anansi (is sometimes credited with creating sun, moon, stars and agricultural techniques).

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Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Science/Technology, The My-Stery


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