Friday, October 29, 2010

Feminization of the horse - implications for robotics

When I was growing up I had a horse. I used to go riding with the boys nearby. They had trail bikes. Girls liked horses. Boys liked motorbikes.

I knew boys with horses too but they weren't quite so full of the horsey passion. They didn't read horse books and have horse toys. I'm going to generalise here. The horse has been feminized.

Once a prime technology, the vehicle and engine of our civilization, the horse was overtaken by industrialization. A workhorse required care and control. This was predominantly a male industry. Men were very involved in every aspect of horse, passionately. The racing industry is like the ring around the bathtub when the rest of the bath has been drained away.

What does this have to do with robots? Well, the boys like robots and most of the girls don't. They still like horses. Creating more opportunities for girls to be involved with robots may not work when the whole industry is so productive of masculinity. However, if the robot world could be made more horsey, maybe then things would change.

Just a thought.

Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Eileen Neale - the spy who never came in from the cold

Amazing success? Certainly the inability to work out if she was successful is interesting. Scathingly put down for femininity and other weaknesses, yet versatile, brave and effective in action. She defied categorisation as well as Nazi Germany.

Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Saturday, October 23, 2010

First Robot Manifesto of Rights

I call upon us to stop unthinking anthropomorphism of robots. Robots are still coming into being. Our casual humanising of robotics is colonising, reinforcing dominant social structures of gender, race and class. We see only what looks like us. We blind ourselves to potential. We should rather refer to all robots as ‘ze’, ‘zey’ and ‘zem’, unless there is a specific reason to imitate a gendered human response. Robot names should be more fluid, not fix identity as faux humans. Robots and non human organisms should have zer/their right to existence formally recognized as more than just the sum of our interaction with zem/them. Robots are uniquely situated, as designed organisms or mechanisms, to free us from the chains of humanity, not replicate them.

This is the seed of the first robot manifesto of rights. There are many people who have expressed these ideas in more nuanced ways, from Isaac Asimov to Joseph Weizenbaum, who created ELIZA in the 1960s and wrote Computer Power and Human Reason, to Donna Haraway’s work on covering the range of simians, cyborgs, women, engineered and companion animals. More recently, roboethics is the topic of many conferences, books and committees. It’s time to discuss our co-existence.

(image from wikimedia commons of Karin Schaefer’s art  and does not imply any endorsement of my opinion)

Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Young Woman Chief Of Police In Mexican Municipality | Mexico

This is bravery:

"Last week there were at least eight murders in Praxedis. The former mayor was killed in June. And police officers have also been targeted.

Valles officially took on her new post in front of the 19 police officers, including nine recently recruited women, who will be her team.

"I took the risk because I want my son to live in a different community to the one we have today. I want people to be able to go out without fear, as it was before," Valles said.

More than 2500 people have been killed this year in the Juarez valley region, where the town lies, and the area is deemed a high-traffic transit point for illegal drugs, as well as migrants, into the US state of Texas.

With scant resources, Valles said her job will not be to fight drug trafficking because that responsibility falls on soldiers and federal police.

Instead, she will focus on rehabilitating public spaces and improving relationships between neighbours in order to improve general security."

Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Natalie Tran & Iron Man - women and robots

Natalie Tran exposes some of the dilemmas of being a female Iron Man. She doesn't fit in the suit. It is kind of awesome using it to iron and launder in. I know the Incredibles went into the domesticity vs superhero space but it could do with a lot more exploring! I love that Natalie took over the suit and became Iron Man and I adore that she explained how she couldn't actually fit. There are so many engineering and medical design issues around women not being able to use things designed by men for men.

Think seat belts and airbags - they had to introduce legislation to amend lethal design! Think painkillers and most drugs that are tested only on male mice - no allowance for different hormonal reactions. Think joint replacements designed on a male skeleton. The list of things not designed for women is longer and more serious than you'd imagine, so go Nat, Iron Man/Woman, whatever. The discussion of gender roles in robotics has a great starting point here.

Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

College Girl's PowerPoint "Fuck List" Goes Viral

I agree. Men do it all the time. It's not pretty when men do it because it is more pervasive, less challenged and has a completely different power dynamic. I'm not certain that this exception to the rule really represents a turning tide in sexual politics (or there wouldn't be this much fuss!) but it is great to see intelligent women behaving like consenting pleasure seeking adults, as opposed to media moaning over drunken disorderly 'ladettes'.

The scary part is the way that we are now recommending searching rooms for webcams before sex. Privacy and good reputation are the new luxuries. I fear a resurgence of the 'good girls don't' mentality, rather than the 'just sex - get over it' of this glorious fuck list.

Posted via email from andragy's posterous