Friday, September 30, 2011

"They're my friends, I make them" - Blade Runner


The following is an excerpt of an article I have written in May 2000 - the original appeared in Pop Culture Corn and in ArabAd"
"When do people become real? In Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner, many questions about what defines humans, what makes people "real," are asked. One of the characters even says, "They're my friends--I 'make' them," referring to the robots which he has created and befriended. Although at first sight his attitude is risible, we all can remember friends whom we only befriended to influence, or coerce even if mostly we acted unconsciously.
I recently discovered that one of Lebanon's top journalists was writing under the pseudonym of Tarek Chemaly in 1989 because he was not allowed to write for two papers simultaneously. It was some four years before I started my own writing in 1993. But says who? I can always claim that his articles on social reform were mine.
"Je est un autre"--"I is another," said French poet Arthur Rimbaud. We all are."

Please compare with today's stunning article that appeared in the Guardian by Stuart Jeffries on Online Fakery:
"So what's his (ViktorMayer-Schönberger)  prognosis for online fakery? "It's going to get much worse because technical rules to stop it are often almost impossible to implement. When you send a jpeg you may have photoshopped it but there's no way of the recipient determining what has been photoshopped. You could just say it has been cropped rather than that the content has been changed – somebody taken out of the picture, someone else put in – but it is almost impossible to prove. Increasingly, you can't tell truth from lies in the digital age."

Mayer-Schönberger and I conducted this interview on Skype while he was holidaying in the Austrian Alps. At one point, he held up his webcam to show me marvellous views of lakes and mountains. Or did he? Given what digital tools are capable of, perhaps that wasn't Austria or Viktor Mayer-Schönberger at all."


The verdict: I love Stuart Jeffries' articles, but I beat him to the theory 11 years ago! And I was still 25 back then!
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