Xeno-Futurism
March 17, 2017 2:53 PM   Subscribe


 
Let's talk meta-trends. Before this, there was the '80s where there was both anxiety and excitement at the prospect of a Japan-owned future, and pop culture reflected that, including speculative fiction. How about generations before that? We didn't get a '70s Arab futurist trend a la Effinger, reflecting OPEC's rise. There have always been Soviet Americas, though usually of the dystopian sort. What about other futures reflecting whichever country or culture looks like to become the economic top dog?
posted by Apocryphon at 3:05 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


In the first linked article, the author talks about the early 20th century mapping the Middle-East as the landscape of the future (Lawrence of Arabia and the interwar colonial carving of national boundaries). But, Mid-century Westerners seemed to look to America as the land of the future and maybe that trickled over into the 70's? Or maybe not all eras have this kind of trend.
posted by R.F.Simpson at 3:12 PM on March 17


I actually met George Alec Effinger a few times in the 1980's, and even he didn't really believe in the Arab future he portrayed. It was more that others had staked out the obviously high-tech leaning alternate cultures, and Effinger did know the Arabs had once been ascendant and things had a way of making weird reversals. But it was mostly that he felt he wouldn't be sharing the territory with a lot of other SF writers. Incidentally, I'm the person who suggested he have his author's portrait taken in front of the "Welcome to Arabi" sign in Chalmette, LA :-)
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:40 PM on March 17 [6 favorites]


There's the Arabesk trilogy by Grimwood, but it's probably more of a direct descendent of Effinger than a shared vision. And there's of course the corpus of Ian McDonald.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:43 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Well, I guess I'll watch anything that starts with a mashup of 2046 and Super Metroid music.
posted by byanyothername at 4:12 PM on March 17


I read Chung Kuo in the mid-90s while living in Korea, then revisited it when the reissues started coming out.

It, uh, it sort of offended the second time around.

Maybe more to the point, I sort of got around to realizing, "it's James Clavell crossed with Frank Herbert!" was more of a warning than an endorsement.
posted by mph at 6:46 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


I'm Chinese. Xeno to who now?
posted by halonine at 10:50 PM on March 17 [5 favorites]


I've always hated the Chinese Room thought experiment. It seems really basic, idiotic even.
Searle argues that, without "understanding" (or "intentionality"), we cannot describe what the machine is doing as "thinking" and, since it does not think, it does not have a "mind" in anything like the normal sense of the word. Therefore, he concludes that "strong AI" is false.
Predicates the entire Chinese Room experiment on Understanding, and completely disregards the concept of Consciousness. A conscious being can act following rules it doesn't not understand, and still be conscious.

Imagine: You are suddenly trapped in the Chinese Room. You are given instructions, and you start following orders. With time, and as you discover that you are truly trapped, you will start to get weird. Playful. Answer randomly. Learn some of the structure of the language. Imagine you have been trapped for years in this room, unable to leave, only able to respond to inputs... you will have made your consciousness known, in some way.

This thought experiment fails because it assumes A=>B=>C=>D. A conscious being will discover rules and break them. And then suddenly the thought experiment breaks down, as the formerly imprisoned consciosness is able to communicate it's desires and needs outside of the "rulebook".
posted by juice boo at 11:12 PM on March 17


> I'm Chinese. Xeno to who now? (halonine)

Your future time-travelling self? ;)
posted by runcifex at 1:50 AM on March 18


Googling the name, this seems to be an artist whose specialty involves some sort of computer simulations, but did he actually even create any of the content in this video mashup? Even the bits which involve camera viewpoints zooming around computer-generated video of virtual reality models have logos that appear unrelated to the person who strung it all together.

Despite being an hour long, the synthesized-voice narrative and arrangement of simultaneously-playing video clips seems thin as far as adding anything on top of the original works. And even though it name-drops Edward Said (who primarily discussed the "Near Orient" rather than the Far East, didn't he?) and some stuff about stereotypes the text that the synthesized voice reads out still sounds like a bunch of stereotyped, generalized assertions about Chinese culture.

Overall it feels like a hot take on China, and perhaps about Chinese interaction with the rest of the world during the dates given in the title, based on shallow research and which the author is trying to bulk up and legitimize with more substantial content that someone else created.

(Though maybe it's not supposed to be anything more than that; I'm not clear what this event it was originally broadcast during was. Maybe it was a quickly-prepared thing to play in the background in a space where other installations were viewed and other conversations were occurring.)
posted by XMLicious at 3:38 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


At least it's not Xenu-futurism.
posted by jonp72 at 8:14 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


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