The Android and our Cyborg Selves: What Androids Will Teach us about Being (Post)Human
Bodley, Antonie Marie
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In the search for understanding a future for our selves with the potential merging of strong Artificial Intelligence and humanoid robotics, this dissertation uses the figure of the android in science fiction and science fact as an evocative object. Here, I propose android theory to consider the philosophical, social, and personal impacts humanoid robotics and AI will have on our understanding of the human subject. From the perspective of critical posthumanism and cyborg feminism, I consider popular culture understandings of AI and humanoid robotics as a way to explore the potential effect of androids by examining their embodiment and disembodiment. After an introduction to associated theories of humanism, posthumanism, and transhumanism, followed by a brief history of the figure of the android in fiction, I turn to popular culture examples. First, using two icons of contemporary AI, Deep Blue, a chess playing program and Watson, a linguistic artificially intelligent program, I explore how their public performances in games evoke rich discussion for understanding a philosophy of mind in a non-species specific way. Next, I turn to the Terminator film series (1984-2009) to discuss how the humanoid embodiment of artificial intelligence exists in an uncanny position for our emotional attachments to nonhuman entities. Lastly, I ask where these relationships will take us in our intimate lives; I explore personhood and human-nonhuman relationships in what I call the nonhuman dilemma. Using the human-Cylon relationships in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica television series (2003-2009), the posthuman family make-over in the film Fido (2006), as well as a real-life story of men with their life-sized doll companions, as seen in the TLC reality television series My Strange Addiction (2010), I explore the coming dilemma of life with nonhuman humanoids.