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July 9, 2012 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Man takes virtual augmented reality girlfriend for a walk in the park. (via)
posted by crunchland (103 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
They call it the Singularity because it's singularly creepy.
posted by happyroach at 10:59 AM on July 9, 2012 [9 favorites]


First, we started hearing voices in the street, now this.
Sufficiently advanced gadgetry renders a person indistinguishable from a madman.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:02 AM on July 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


from comments: forever alone glasses.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:02 AM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Where are the tentacles?
posted by phong3d at 11:03 AM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, we all know where this ends...
posted by Windopaene at 11:04 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was waiting for him to get trapped in there and have to solve a mystery with Sherlock Holmes to unlock the door.
posted by DU at 11:04 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Oh Krieger-san soon we will be married, yes?"
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:04 AM on July 9, 2012 [41 favorites]


They call it the Singularity because it's singularly creepy.
posted by happyroach at 10:59 AM on July 9 [+][!]


Completely creepy - from hanging out at the park play ground to the ending credit skirt lift and boob grab. If this is what the Holodeck is going to be like - I am gonna give it a pass.
posted by helmutdog at 11:05 AM on July 9, 2012


I also like how he is able to play with her "tie" which responds appropriately.
posted by Windopaene at 11:05 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love Japan. So, so much. They manage to make things weird in ways we can't even imagine. New dimensions in unreality.
posted by sixohsix at 11:06 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also like how he is able to play with her "tie" which responds appropriately.

yea, and how she realistically flinches when he hits her on the head. yuck yuckyuck
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:11 AM on July 9, 2012 [11 favorites]


Take a look at a game made 20 years ago. Lets say Mario Kart from 1992. Now take a look at a a game from 10 years later, like Unreal Tournament 2003. Finally take a look at any game released this year.

Now imagine how AR will look in 20 years.

I better get my hands on a pair of Google Glasses, I don't want to be left behind.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 11:12 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now imagine how AR will look in 20 years.

It looks like the Old Spice guy on a horse, doesn't it?
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:13 AM on July 9, 2012 [18 favorites]


yea, and how she realistically flinches when he hits her on the head. yuck yuckyuck

Is it morally worse to pretend to abuse a simulated woman than to pretend to have sex with a videotaped live one (i.e. watch porn)?

Discuss.
posted by DU at 11:17 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Literally the first physical interaction shown is hitting her. :(
posted by ocherdraco at 11:18 AM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


"singularly creepy"
"New dimensions in unreality"
"indistinguishable from a madman"

Reminds me of this I just read:
The relationship between reason and unreason is neatly brought out by the contrast between the beautiful and the sublime, as discussed most famously by Edmund Burke. Burke explained that we enjoy the things which are beautiful since they are pleasing to the senses; beautiful objects are objects which our senses can hold and control. The sublime, on the other hand, is always beyond our grasp; the sublime gives intimations of other worlds ruled by obscure and terrifying forces. Thus while the beautiful can be subject to our reason, the sublime we cannot reason with; instead the sublime is an awesome power which forces us silently to succumb. In terms of these aesthetic categories, the tension between reason and unreason can be understood through the desire for transgression. From the Latin transgredi, to ‘pass over a threshold’, to transgress is to move from one world to another. Most commonly, perhaps, we think of transgression as ‘moral transgression’, but transgressive acts can just as well be social, cultural or political. As our mothers or our teachers will tell us, transgression is wrong, but it is at the same time also tempting – in fact it is tempting because it is wrong. Transgression is liberating, or to be more precise, to imagine yourself as a transgressor is to imagine yourself as free from the social norms which rule your normal existence. This is why people in modern society like to read about transgression, watch films and fantasise about it, and why transgressive acts constantly pop up in our dreams.This explains the temptation of the sublime. By submitting ourselves to the power of the unknown we liberate ourselves from the requirement to make sense. We escape from the tyranny of reason by claiming that we temporarily have been overpowered by forces beyondour control. Yet of course this is only so much hyperbole. The thrill of the sublime is a vicarious pleasure. It excites us since it gives us the sensation of transgressing without actually having to do it. It is a fantasy which never actually comes true. We stay within the realm of reason while pretending to abandon it. Contemporary society is built around this hypocrisy: we constantly see ourselves as escaping modernity while at the same time reaping all the benefits from it. Yet without this hypocrisy, no doubt, modern society would become unbearable.
posted by stbalbach at 11:21 AM on July 9, 2012 [16 favorites]


I want it. Maybe not for this application, but there's gotta be a legit use.

maybe this will finally be what makes the "assistant agent" software a big hit. combine this kin of imagery with something like Siri, or whatnot.
posted by dethb0y at 11:22 AM on July 9, 2012


Man takes virtual augmented reality girlfriend for a walk in the park.

Is this what we're calling them, now? We're calling them "men"?
posted by gurple at 11:23 AM on July 9, 2012 [9 favorites]


Did he get to base 2?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:26 AM on July 9, 2012 [21 favorites]


Literally the first physical interaction shown is hitting her. :(

You mean crudely attempting to pat her head? That can be problematic for other reasons, but it's not intended as physical violence. It's also amazing that it works, although I'm sure it's demonstrated in ideal conditions for the detection.
posted by figurant at 11:26 AM on July 9, 2012


Okay, having watched slightly further I'll withdraw that last comment.
posted by figurant at 11:29 AM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hey maybe CNN can use it to report on SCOTUS rulings even faster!
posted by edgeways at 11:29 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did he get to base 2?

Yep, he finally made it all the way to log base 2. That girl is a lucky collections of ones and zeros let me tell ya.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:29 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised at the crude quality of the girl. Considering the quality of the original, it's really weird to see something that looks like it's taken straight out of a Playstation 1 game.
posted by ymgve at 11:33 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


ocherdraco: Literally the first physical interaction shown is hitting her. :(

figurant: You mean crudely attempting to pat her head?


The third interaction, then. That one's hitting.
posted by gurple at 11:33 AM on July 9, 2012


The first interaction is a pat on the head, the second more forceful attempt is met with a defensive block. And she fights off the attempts at boob grabbing and skirt lifting. What would you rather have her do? I think the main intent is showing off the heads-up compositing and motion detection / interaction. The 3d singing, dancing, poking with a mouse on the desktop parts of this are old-hat technology. It's pretty trivial to get Miku or her Vocaloid friends on your desktop chattering back and forth. There's another version of the video somewhere that shows the hardware and tracking setup that even includes the famous teapot.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:34 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


What would you rather have her do?

Be wearing boxing gloves and a helmet?
posted by gurple at 11:35 AM on July 9, 2012


Where are the tentacles?


You know, if someone wants to do another LOLJapan post today, I don't think anyone's posted about this iPhone case yet...
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:35 AM on July 9, 2012


What would you rather have her do?

Well, she could have responded to a high five or something? Same effect, but much less violent.
posted by ymgve at 11:37 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


If "she" were programmed to know muay thai (or boxing, kickboxing, kung fu, whatever), she could be a pretty bad-ass training partner.
posted by LordSludge at 11:37 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's constantly backing away. If she's always following behind him, there would be lots of dizzying camera swings.

And thinking of that makes me suspect there'll be great Slenderman-style jump scare AR apps when they figure out how to make everyone where GoogleSpecs or Apple iGlasses.
posted by Drastic at 11:39 AM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


The first interaction is a pat on the head, the second more forceful attempt is met with a defensive block.

You saw a defensive block. I saw a guy hitting his fake girlfriend on the head so she would cringe for the camera, and then doing it again.

What would you rather have her do?

There is no her -- she's a drawing. I would have HIM not choose to demonstrate the interactivity of the simulation through violence.
posted by KathrynT at 11:41 AM on July 9, 2012 [11 favorites]


He's not hitting her. She's detecting collisions.
posted by crunchland at 11:42 AM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Damnit, I thought I was literally on the cutting edge with my xylophone-through-a-bandsaw based instrumental tracks, but AGAIN the Japanese have beaten me to the punch!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:43 AM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, just imagining myself in this video, it's looking like we're finally at the level of tech where a Japanese man can softly push his fingers into my midsection after rapping me on the head. Thank you, Raymond Kurzweil!
posted by Greg Nog at 11:44 AM on July 9, 2012


What would you rather have her do?

Fire lasers from her eyes. That would be rad!
posted by octobersurprise at 11:44 AM on July 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


Japan! Making the future creepy since 1990!
posted by lumpenprole at 11:47 AM on July 9, 2012


Like escort missions in video games? Now you can have one in the real world! Watch in horror as your Virtual Companion gets stuck in a hole in the geometry and the bad guys mow her down!
posted by egypturnash at 11:59 AM on July 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


That said, while this hacked-together implementation is pretty creepy, what's pretty cool is that this seems to be hacked together from lots of off-the-shelf software! Any hobbyist can do something like THIS in their spare time. What happens when this guy (or someone else) gets all these diverse parts into an easy-to-use toolkit and other people start playing with it?

Imagine this with subtler animation, for instance. Imagine a model not designed for playing in realtime on now-outdated hardware.

I don't know if I want one of these myself, but it's going to be interesting.
posted by egypturnash at 12:04 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


helmutdog: "Completely creepy - from hanging out at the park play ground to the ending credit skirt lift and boob grab. If this is what the Holodeck is going to be like - I am gonna give it a pass."

What's wrong with Star Trek? (NSFW language)
posted by mkb at 12:06 PM on July 9, 2012


zengargoyle: “And she fights off the attempts at boob grabbing and skirt lifting. What would you rather have her do?”

Er – did you really think people were bothered by what she does?
posted by koeselitz at 12:08 PM on July 9, 2012 [13 favorites]


combine this kin of imagery with something like Siri, or whatnot.

even better: combine Siri with Navi (from the Legend of Zelda)

Hey!
posted by sexyrobot at 12:20 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Happy Valley, I take it?
posted by infini at 12:21 PM on July 9, 2012


This far in, and no "Caprica" callouts? At least we had an "Archer" reference...
posted by IAmBroom at 12:21 PM on July 9, 2012


This makes me sad. I'm not making fun. It just seems very poignant to me that someone could have emotional needs that can't seem to be satisfied in any other way. :(
posted by jefficator at 12:23 PM on July 9, 2012


> stbalbach,

"By submitting ourselves to the power of the unknown we liberate ourselves from the requirement to make sense."

I'm going to print this out and keep it close for next time I fall down the YouTube hole of Miku Miku Dance videos and find myself listening to Triple Baka wherein Hatsune Miku seems to speak directly to my existential angst. Bizarre Japanese viral videos are merely my coping method for the pain of civilization.

If anyone wants a sublime experience I highly recommend Go! Go! Carlito! (With Pleasant Companions).
posted by sixohsix at 12:27 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


They call it the Singularity because it's singularly creepy.

You know, this wouldn't be at all creepy if

(1) The AI underlying the projection were at least human-equivalent, and
(2) He didn't treat it as something to absorb violence and lust.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:35 PM on July 9, 2012


Does it come with a van?
posted by chundo at 12:37 PM on July 9, 2012


ASSERTIVE DISCIPLINE
posted by p3on at 12:37 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


She seems... boring.
posted by klanawa at 12:47 PM on July 9, 2012


Those first few second where she is slowly approaching triggered all my old WoW reflexes. Back away faster! While strafing! Back away faster!

Also:

Metafilter: where a Japanese man can softly push his fingers into my midsection after rapping me on the head
posted by AdamCSnider at 1:44 PM on July 9, 2012


Chee wiz!
posted by Twang at 2:01 PM on July 9, 2012


This is the end, my Ringu friend.
posted by Schadenfreude at 2:03 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is good to meet girl in park ...
posted by Kabanos at 2:08 PM on July 9, 2012


This has so much potential. Yet, we know that we will be stuck with a really helpful talking paper clip and BonziBUDDY.
posted by Knigel at 2:13 PM on July 9, 2012


His channel has more tech demos. Most involve the Kinect, so this is probably also based on that.

From his point of view, smacking her in the head is more like showing that you taught your dog a trick. He's not going to go around smacking people in the head, he's just proud of her ability to know when she's been smacked in the head.
posted by RobotHero at 2:14 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


From his point of view, smacking her in the head is more like showing that you taught your dog a trick.

You're not making it less creepy.
posted by KathrynT at 2:16 PM on July 9, 2012 [12 favorites]


She seems... boring.

Don't knock it until you try it. Or until you have the collision detection algorithms in place.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:24 PM on July 9, 2012


This sort of behavior with digital women and sex dolls among Japanese men as well as Japanese receptiveness towards robots can be explained by the animism in the Shinto religion. To these men, these things have spirits, just as people and rocks and animals, so it isn't nearly so strange. Even if they're naturalists and don't even strictly believe in spirits in an ontological sense, culturally it's very much ingrained in them. I find it to be a fascinating aspect of Japanese culture and society, and I would imagine it would make it much easier to be lonely in Japan :).

Is this what we're calling them, now? We're calling them "men"?

Would you make the same comment on here about cross dressers?
posted by bookman117 at 2:38 PM on July 9, 2012


No.
posted by gurple at 2:51 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


bookman117: “This sort of behavior with digital women and sex dolls...”

Bopping them on the head, you mean?
posted by koeselitz at 2:52 PM on July 9, 2012


You're not making it less creepy.

I didn't mean to lower a woman to the level of a dog, but to raise a software program to the level of a dog.

Perhaps the wrong analogy? Let's try the pride in repairing a car engine and having it start. But he's a very technical boy, and he doesn't consider what his demonstration can symbolize. If you prefer Jurassic Park paraphrases, he was so preoccupied with whether or not he could, he didn't stop to think if he should.
posted by RobotHero at 3:01 PM on July 9, 2012


But he's a very technical boy, and he doesn't consider what his demonstration can symbolize.

What does bondage play between real human beings symbolize?
posted by bookman117 at 3:04 PM on July 9, 2012


This might be a stupid question, but are we assuming it isn't just edited video? (Or is that what it is?) I am confused.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:08 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


But he's a very technical boy, and he doesn't consider what his demonstration can symbolize.

In the title to the video, he calls it a "date." I think he's already brought the symbolism.
posted by KathrynT at 3:19 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


are we assuming it isn't just edited video? -- Yeah. If you watch the full video, and not the truncated version linked, you'll see that the guy who made the video claims to have attached an xbox kinect motion sensing input device to a pair of vr gamers glasses and then hacked it to add a videogame character into a real life landscape. It could be phony, but considering the quality, it's crude enough to be real. And aside from the feminist distaste of the maltreatment of an avatar, and the whole otaku making a virtual girlfriend, it's actually a pretty neat demonstration of what's possible with relatively inexpensive consumer technology.
posted by crunchland at 3:24 PM on July 9, 2012


If this is what the Holodeck is going to be like - I am gonna give it a pass.
Worst job on the Enterprise...Holodeck Mopper.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:58 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised at the crude quality of the girl. Considering the quality of the original, it's really weird to see something that looks like it's taken straight out of a Playstation 1 game.

A guy just cobbled together a custom concoction of electronics and code that visually places a 3d model in the world, affixes it to the ground, scales and rotates it according to his relative position and viewing angle, and detects a tree and selectively edits out part of the image so that it appears to be occluded - behind the tree - as he walks around it.

How much does someone has to do to impress you? "Oh, so you built your own mars lander in your spare time and got it to mars, but... it doesn't carry people! NASA was carrying people back in the sixties!" :-)

(I can't read the language, so I can't be sure, but it appears to amateur/hobbyist/hacker work, a proof-of-concept.)

When you're developing the building blocks of the future, but you're not backed by a billion dollar R&D department with thousands of man-hours on-tap, it's just you, there are not enough hours in the day to finish the rough edges, no matter how smart you are. You have to prioritize.

Chosing the demo app to be a virtual girlfriend was quite clever - his(/their) work will be getting all sorts of publicity just for the novelty / creepy factors.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:38 PM on July 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


No mo' fancy toys, ok? This man needs to find a non-virtual woman and procreate so that he isn't directly responsible for Japan's Final Generation™
posted by 200burritos at 4:51 PM on July 9, 2012


That was disturbing and I am disturbed.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:09 PM on July 9, 2012


This sort of behavior with digital women and sex dolls among Japanese men as well as Japanese receptiveness towards robots can be explained by the animism in the Shinto religion.

... and also the fact that Japanese society puts a lot of stress on people, and that most Japanese women and men really don't know what each other are thinking.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:52 PM on July 9, 2012


This sort of behavior with digital women and sex dolls among Japanese men as well as Japanese receptiveness towards robots can be explained by the animism in the Shinto religion.

This isn't really fair. Otaku, as the headline would suggest, aren't viewed very well in Japan and aren't by any means a significant demographic; so far as I understand. There are just as much people in the States and anywhere else that belong to this sort of culture. I should know. I'm tempted to repost this link to communities I belong to, where I know this video will be met with a lot of enthusiasm.

On the one hand, I'm a little sad with the judging going on here. Where I come from, there's a strict rule not to judge each other despite what society might consider gross violations of social norms, because all that matters is that you do what pleases you. There's a picture floating around out there of an obese man, surrounded in a cluttered room filled with computers, often with some (fictional, probably) background story about his significant if not unsustainable financial investment into his hobby, with some sort of caption of sorts: "You judge him, but he's happy with his life." On the other hand, my intuitions tell me that there's something wrong with us, or rather we're one of the expressions of something that has gone wrong for modern society.

Not that I consider myself an otaku, a hikikomori, or anything similar. I feel that I am fairly well adjusted, but I find it easy to sympathize and understand where these sorts of people are coming from - perhaps because I suffer from the same thing they are. I think this is actually a fascinating phenomenon.

One professor of mine has remarked on the infantilization of university students these days, and he's right. We're approaching 22, and we all refer to ourselves as kids. It's self-imposed infantilization, the worst. We come up with excuses that we haven't really experienced the world yet, and thus don't deserve to be adults, although it's clear (perhaps) that all we have to do is take control over our own persons, and call ourselves adults. The path is crystal clear, but we just won't take it for whatever reason.

Another professor of mine has remarked to me of a city nearby my hometown, which used to have some of the nation's highest suicide rates among pre-university students. The key line was that kids these days have no directions, no goals.

I can't help but think that my professors are on to something, that there really is something to this, that this isn't just another cliche of how good the times used to be.

Well, this turned into something a lot more than I thought it would be.
posted by SollosQ at 6:17 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think I'd go on a date with this guy.
posted by zompist at 7:07 PM on July 9, 2012


On the one hand, I'm a little sad with the judging going on here.

I'm also a bit disappointed that the judging is of what seems like the least relevant aspect. I've faced the same problem as this guy - you work on solving a bunch of problems to produce a system that has a lot of potential, but if you explain what it does, very few people will try to imagine the possibilities that this enables, and only a rare few will succeed, you kind of have to be prepared to spoon-feed with a very simple and trite kind of example made up of what the audience already knows, else it just doesn't connect. The problem then is that people rabbit on about the trite example and still don't connect the possibilities. But that's better than glazed eyes. Sometimes.

I haven't seen an AR object display this kind of 3D occlusion and collision detection before. Maybe it's because I don't pay much attention to AR, or maybe it's because this guy is the first to achieve it, and he's the guy who is pushing your civilization forward for you.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:19 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


sexyrobot: "combine this kin of imagery with something like Siri, or whatnot.

even better: combine Siri with Navi (from the Legend of Zelda)

Hey!
"

Screw that. At least initially make my AR virtual agent Bit from Tron.

Until I AR up an AK and blow it away for annoying me.
posted by Samizdata at 7:56 PM on July 9, 2012


Thorzdad: "If this is what the Holodeck is going to be like - I am gonna give it a pass.
Worst job on the Enterprise...Holodeck Mopper.
"

Only if you screw up badly enough with handling the weekly transporter malfunction and you have to do it with a toothbrush.

In fact, there's a glitch in the pattern buffers so the only toothbrush for the task is?

YOURS. With no new fresh ones.
posted by Samizdata at 8:04 PM on July 9, 2012


@-harlequin-

if this is who's pushing civilization forward then who do i see about going back to the 50s when men didn't do this
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:12 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


SollosQ: “On the one hand, I'm a little sad with the judging going on here.”

You're seeing something that, as far as I can tell, is not actually there. People are not judging this as "creepy" because it is a guy who has created his dream girlfriend. People are judging this as "creepy" because his first action appears to be hitting her on the head, followed soon after by grabbing at her in a violational way, ostensibly (under the most charitable reading) to 'test her reflexes.' Yes, you could say:

-harlequin-: “I'm also a bit disappointed that the judging is of what seems like the least relevant aspect.”

... but I don't know that I agree. Yes, the longer-form video has more non-weird stuff, but this edited video is what he chose to show us, and what he chose to highlight is weird.

I guess this is an interesting question, then. So there are otaku who go to great lengths to lovingly create imaginary girlfriends for themselves; this creative world is a solace to them, a place where they can be themselves. I think that's fine. But the interesting question is – is it immoral if a person abuses an imaginary girlfriend? If a person hits her on the head, or grabs at her in a violational way? If ethics are purely a matter of our relations with other people, perhaps on some level you could argue that it's perfectly ethical to abuse an imaginary girlfriend. I believe some people would even argue that this would even be good for the inveterate abusers in our society, so that they could get their kicks by abusing imaginary people instead of real people.

I don't know if I would agree with that, though. And moreover I'm not sure it counts as having no impact if a guy is making a video of it and showing it on the internet.
posted by koeselitz at 9:51 PM on July 9, 2012


Its cool. In the future our glasses will render everyone else naked. Well, not really, it would be simulated nudity. Clothes, on clothes, off, won't matter. And the sex will be great, we will never have to see our spouses again. Boys, high five. We just made every woman visually sexy, thank you technology.

and then we realize, wait, she wears reality augmenting glasses too...
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:22 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


and then we realize, wait, she wears reality augmenting glasses too...

This, of course, is precisely what is not happening here, and that is really the only new thing. In a sense, we all bring our imaginary girlfriends to the park; we can never bridge the gap and get to know the Thing itself, so we are left projecting whatever it is we want (She loves me so much!) or can't help (I'm sure she's cheating, that bitch) without ever knowing.

The new (emancipatory/creepy) aspect here is that there is no gaze projecting back at us from beyond the comprehensible. Finally, we can have our Thing, back it up, share it and delete it too.
posted by klue at 11:43 PM on July 9, 2012


Saw this on twitter today: "It's uncomfortable when you have respect for someone in one way and not in another."

Uncomfortable, yes, but it's a familiar sensation—and it's not limited to individuals! Nations, religions, philosophies, political ideologies, cities, companies, clubs, web sites, and pretty much any other incarnation of human endeavor is capable of simultaneously earning respect and ire, or love and disappointment, or disgust and curiosity, or almost any other combination of these (and other) emotional responses.

People and the situations they engender are complicated.

Take Japan, for example. It's easy for me, as a resident of central USA, to respond to stories about sexual molestation on Japanese mass transit or an alleged correlation between "hikikomori" and the almost fetishistic portrayal of prepubescent girls and conclude that, as badly as gender issues are handled in America, they are obviously handled worse in Japan.

That doesn't give me a pass to just dismiss this guy as a creep because his tech demo skeeves me out. After spending time Doing Other Things, I came back and watched this again, and found myself asking questions:

--Does he strike her because that's the sort of thing his audience expects to do with a simulated date, or because it's one of the more simple and obvious physical interactions that Augmented Reality systems have historically bad at handling?
--Does the fact that she responds to the strike endanger women by eroding their personhood?
--Alternately, does the fact that she responds to the strike provide a viable outlet for violent men with poor impulse control?
--Are the previous two questions necessarily mutually exclusive?
--Is "hanging out/interacting with Hatsune Miku" as presented specifically the designer's intent, or did he choose this series of interactions because it would apparently appeal to male Hatsune Miku fans—a group of people who have already demonstrated a willingness to spend a great deal of money on her likeness?
--Taken in context with previous questions, would a particular answer to the last question make this whole endeavor more sinister, or less so?

I feel like I'm constantly hearing about the need to put a human face on things to make them relatable; taken too cynically, it can be a design flaw, but in general people respond far more viscerally to depictions of people than to anything else. It's also a danger, though, because once you invoke human characteristics, you have to actually treat your subject humanely, or this happens:

"You saw a defensive block. I saw a guy hitting his fake girlfriend on the head so she would cringe for the camera, and then doing it again."

KathrynT is emphatically not wrong to assess the video in the way she did. The creator chose to present his creation in a way that would appeal to the otaku enthusiast; that decision has consequences for its reception among other audiences.

The hikikomori, the otaku: at the risk of painting with a broad brush, these groups have in common with the archetypal nerd an abandonment of outer social reputation in exchange for inner social regard and community. While I love my insular interests and the way the internet has enabled people of particularly niche identities to find one another and form pocket-societies relatively free from out-group scorn—'sup, furries—the reality of the situation is that no social group is actually isolated, especially not on the internet, and the more insular and norm-defying you are—'sup again, furries—the greater the conflict will become when you inevitably collide with so-called "normal" society again.

Or to put it more bluntly, nobody gets to live free of judgment. Being a member of a community is definitionally to live within a space wherein you are constantly judged: admittedly, your peers are more likely to pass lenient judgment, but that doesn't mean it's not happening. Being socially clumsy is not a free pass to act like an animal and avoid ever getting called on it.

So yeah, cool tech. The presentation is unfortunate. I respect this guy in one way but not another.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 11:52 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The creepy play acted gendered aggression was really fucking creepy, BUT WHERE DOES THE SHADOW COME FROM?!?!?
posted by Blasdelb at 12:00 AM on July 10, 2012


One small step for mankind (toward the holodeck). Creepy--okay, maybe so, but that wasn't what he was trying to show you. This is what happens every time anybody shines a light into your basement.

I felt bad about having that blowup doll. Creepy, even. I took it out to the back yard and stuffed it into the burn barrel and poured kerosene over it. Just as I was about to throw the match, she looked up at me with those big brown eyes, and said... "Oooooo." (That's the only word she could say, what with the round mouth and all.) I just couldn't do it. I rinsed her off with the garden hose and...um...wait, are you guys recording this?

If you want a neat version of a world saturated with layers of VR, see Brin's book, "Existence."
posted by mule98J at 12:59 AM on July 10, 2012


I guess the thing that I find interesting is that all of you focused on the guy hitting her is that there is no her. She's a computer program. Would you have not even thought twice if she were a representation of Eric Cartman? or would you have the urge to call protective services, because a non-existent child was being abused. Do you further thing someone playing Skyrim is actually killing people? I mean, snap out of it, people. It's just a videogame.
posted by crunchland at 4:53 AM on July 10, 2012


This sort of behavior with digital women and sex dolls among Japanese men as well as Japanese receptiveness towards robots can be explained by the animism in the Shinto religion.

Really, no. What is this, The Chrysanthemum and the Circuit Board?
posted by spitbull at 5:28 AM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


crunchland: "I guess the thing that I find interesting is that all of you focused on the guy hitting her is that there is no her. She's a computer program. Would you have not even thought twice if she were a representation of Eric Cartman? or would you have the urge to call protective services, because a non-existent child was being abused. Do you further thing someone playing Skyrim is actually killing people? I mean, snap out of it, people. It's just a videogame."

If it were a dude it would not have occurred to the testing guy to hit the representation, much less sexually assault it. This would not have happened to a representation of Eric Cartman.

I think the difference is that violence against women, as well as trivializing violence against women as normal, are each a thing in both Western and Japanese society, and one that absolutely needs to stop. The stories we tell, and allow to be told, do indeed have a powerful effect on our society, there is a reason the Pentagon subsidizes shoot 'em up games like Call of Duty. Even Skyrim draws the line at performing violence of any kind against the children it portrays in the game. I think it is entirely appropriate that we draw some kind of firm line between our approval and this portrayal of assaulting a woman and then sexually assaulting a woman as just a normal thing you would to to test how much like a woman she is. What I find even more disturbing, and telling, though is her programmed response, it is entirely passive and obliging yet upset enough to be believable. Yuck.

If this were a video of some guy testing a digital representation of a specific woman you know and care about, say a sister, a daughter, or a partner, would you feel the same way? What about a dude getting pantsed as a trivial thing, and not in a prank way but a ooo I'm going to check out your ass whether you like it or not kind of way. Would the, still fictional, portrayal of the violence and skirt lifting feel just as abstract? It is no wonder that particularly so many of the women in the room feel attacked, because that is exactly what is being portrayed, trivialized attacks on women.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:30 AM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can choose to project and anthropomorphise if you want to, but it's all just pixels. Punching a teddy bear is not considered animal abuse, nor does one action necessarily lead to the other.
posted by crunchland at 7:03 AM on July 10, 2012


So if you found that your child had developed a habit of angrily hitting their teddy bears, or a habit of sexually assaulting their teddy bears in a way that specifically portrayed a lack of consent, you wouldn't be the least bit concerned?

Teddy bears, skyrim characters, and yes Hatsune Miku each exist for the purpose of projection and anthropomorphizing, and that connection to our ability to empathize is worth respect.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:14 AM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


This would not have happened to a representation of Eric Cartman.

Momentarily, I read this as "Eric Clapton" and I thought "Oh, yeah. I'd punch the hell out of that."
posted by octobersurprise at 7:21 AM on July 10, 2012


our ability to empathize is worth respect -- So you'll empathize with a pixelized representation of a person, but you're willing to not only condemn the guy who managed to generate it, as well as a whole culture of people from Japan?
posted by crunchland at 7:40 AM on July 10, 2012


Who the hell condemned "a whole culture of people"?

Also, punching a teddy bear, meh. But posting a video of yourself punching a teddy bear is different. People talk about violence and abuse in fictionalized movies and television shows seriously, and discuss the impact it has. Why is this any different?
posted by koeselitz at 7:45 AM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The "only just pixels" folks kind of scare me in how their arguments veer dangerously close to solipsism.

Yes, it's just pixels, and we're just meat, and other people are meat puppets only perceived through our own senses, so if there's no negative outcome what's the harm?

I'd rather society wasn't based on a model of rewards for good actions and punishments for bad actions and just because a video game allows you to punch a girl made of pixels doesn't mean you should actually do it if there's no compelling in-context reason to do so.

Why shouldn't you kill a real human if there's no chance you'd get caught or feel a penalty for it?

At the end of the day we are a free-floating consciousness perceiving and acting on sensory inputs and whether they're "real" or "virtual" comes down to some very interesting philosophical and cosmological questions.

Personally I think it's simpler to just behave consistently all the time, so if I'm going to play a violent video game I need to really understand what the reason for the violence is in context of my own real-world ethical values. Maybe some people like to "get out of their own heads?" But usually in those violent games, the context is still basically consistent with a mainstream ethos.

It's just that in the context of the video, there's an animated figure that seems to be generally harmless and engaging and responsive, and then the figure is struck for no obvious reason, except to see what will happen. That's creepy, at best, in real life, and in almost every video game situation I can recall.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:00 AM on July 10, 2012


I'll grant you that it's really very unfortunate that he chose to depict an avatar of a 12-year old sexualized girl for his demonstration. By doing so, he's made it hard for some to see the cool tech beyond the creepiness. If he had chosen a 5-foot tall cartoon bunny rabbit or a fantasy role-playing dragon, I suspect more people would have been able to accept the wow-factor at face value. This video is yet another case where form trumps function, and the face of the presentation has obliterated the meaning behind it. Imagine this as the next iteration of Skype.
posted by crunchland at 8:44 AM on July 10, 2012


Finally, we can have our Thing, back it up, share it and delete it too.

At last, something beautiful you can truly own.
posted by torticat at 10:22 AM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


the figure is struck for no obvious reason, except to see what will happen.

That's why I stopped playing Shadow Of The Colossus!
posted by Greg Nog at 10:42 AM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Imagine this as the next iteration of Skype.

But with more violence.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:33 AM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Blasdelb: this portrayal of assaulting a woman and then sexually assaulting a woman as just a normal thing you would to to test how much like a woman she is.
THERE is the entire problem. He's demonstrating interaction with a virtual "person" in the "real world". Who in their right mind would start off that demonstration with such acts?

"Captain Picard, here is the holodeck. Now, you may never have seen one of these before, so let me start a program... This one is called 'Female Dance Partner'. See how realistic she is? Notice how, when I pinch her nipples, she winces? Now watch what happens when I shoot her with a hologram phaser... What? Does she dance? Of course! But why would you want to see that?"

Fucked up.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:47 AM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Or to put it more bluntly, nobody gets to live free of judgment.
exactly. no matter what your gender or race this is a fundamental truth and the problem is nowadays people have forgotten that
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:11 PM on July 10, 2012


I've seen several people in this thread say that since this isn't really a girl, there isn't a problem. But I think for many here that is precisely the problem: this guy could have chose to make his test image anything, anything at all. He could have chosen to interact with it in any way to test the interface. Yet he chose to use the image of a sexualized young girl, chose to label this presentation a "date", and chose to interact with it by hitting it, flipping its skirt, grabbing its breasts, etc.

Yes, this is very technically impressive for something someone hacked together on the cheap from store parts by himself. But "it's an advancement!" isn't some magic shield that excuses all other concerns.

And from the other side, saying "There are some worrisome things about the way this guy chose to do this" isn't some Luddite anti-progress sentiment or missing what's been accomplished. You can appreciate the technical accomplishment and also find the presentation problematic.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:00 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I completely agree that there's no defense of the last couple minutes of the video. I just see the head batting as a testing of the limits of the algorithms, and collision detection. The last part is something else entirely.
posted by crunchland at 2:51 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


For his next demo, he should simulate a clam on a table licking salt with its foot.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:02 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just Let the Shut-Ins Bang Their Virtual Girlfriends in Peace
posted by homunculus at 6:36 PM on July 11, 2012


Sight
posted by homunculus at 12:38 PM on July 29, 2012


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