Are You In A Relationship With A Machine?

We interact a lot with machines. Whether we’re using our mobile phones, giving Alexa commands or even playing with a (sex) robot), we’re now giving these devices more intimate information than ever before. In a way, this means that we might feel like we are in a private relationship with them, but the reality is that a lot of corporations hold this data.

But we’ve always had a relationship with machines. We’ve found dildos that are 28,000 years old, we’ve fantasised about cars and statues, and sometimes our social status depends on the machines we own and interact with. So what really has changed?

For this episode I’m joined by Tulsi Parida and Nika Mahnič. Tulsi cares about reducing digital inequality and promoting responsible/inclusive technology. She has worked in startups in India and the States that look at the intersection of literacy and tech.  Tulsi recently completed an MSc at the Oxford Internet Institute, where she studied mobile learning in emerging markets through a gender and political economy lens, and is currently pursuing an MBA at Saïd Business school. Nika is an interdisciplinary researcher, writer and dancer. She wrote her BA thesis on sex robots at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, and obtained her MA in Big Data at King’s College, London. Her MA thesis focused on the first proactive companion robot and manager of IoT devices employing emotional artificial intelligence. She is a co-founder of Danes je nov dan / Today is a new day institute and an activist at the Campaign Against Sex Robots.

Useful links for the podcast

Here are some interesting articles and videos from Nika. Watch her talk about sex robots here, and read her articles on ‘bloody others’ here.

We spoke about Alexa and misogyny in the episode. There are a couple of articles on this as listed below, but I couldn’t find anything about whether using Alexa the machine increases misogyny towards real women. Consequently, I’m loathed to say this is true. If you have any more information please shoot it across!

Here’s a little pic of us recording the podcast. My flat is quite light and so we look dark in the foreground. But it’s still nice to ‘know’ that we might be real people and not machines 🙂

Alice Thwaite, Nika Mahnič and Tulsi Parida

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Til next time!