Cyborgs and Technofeminism: The World of He, She, and It

This is far from just a simple cybernetic love story.

By Melody Xu

Collage by Alex Hanson, using the cover art from He, She, and It

The year is 2059. After the Two Week War of 2017 which nearly destroyed human civilization as we know it, the world is now run by twenty-seven enterprises — commonly referred to as the multis — which have formed their own social hierarchies and standards of living. However, most of the population lives in the barren and nearly destroyed world (the glop) that exists outside of the multis’ enclave, a place that is overrun by poverty and crime. Despite the huge gap between the rich and the poor, technology has never been more advanced. People in this new world communicate by plugging themselves into machines and projecting themselves into Cyberspace. This is the world of He, She, and It.

In this 1991 cyberpunk novel by Marge Piercy, the story starts with artificial intelligence expert Shira, who lives in one of these multis, Yakamura-Stichen (Y-S), losing custody of her son Ari to her ex-husband in an emotional custody battle. Afterwards, she decides to live the heavily controlled confines of Y-S in order to return to her hometown of Tikva (which means hope in Hebrew). Tikva is one of the few last “free towns” left in the world, remaining unallied with any of the twenty-seven corporations. However, in Piercy’s future world, where information is even more precious than gold, Tikva has been under the attack of “information pirates”, dangerous computer programmers set on unlocking the secrets of the town’s mainframe. The cyborg Yod was illegally created for the single reason of combating these attacks. However, before Yod can protect the city to his full capacity, the cyborg must be able to pass as a human and Shira is tasked to help it with its socialization. During their time together, they eventually fall into a romantic relationship and become allies in both fighting to protect Tikva and for custody of Avi again. Continue reading “Cyborgs and Technofeminism: The World of He, She, and It”

Ex Machina’s Artificial Intelligence: What Does It Say About Humanity?

There is no #YOLO in the AI world.

By Julia Arciga

Illustration by Annika Hanson

Ex Machina does something that is rarely achieved well in today’s sci-fi film realm. It blends science with philosophy to bring the viewer to a breaking-point question: What really makes a human human, and can it be truly replicated through Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Que internal existential crisis about what defines humanity

One of the big plot points of the movie is a little something called the Turing Test created by Alan Turing (yes, the same Alan Turing from The Imitation Game). Basically, the Turing Test is a sort of pass-fail for AI—if the AI can pass as a human in conversation, then it’s “en route to true intelligence.” In the movie, the brilliant and scary Nathan— the CEO of a Google-esque company and the creator of the AI— wants to take the Turing Test a step further, and test whether his AI displays a convincing enough human-like cognizance to supercede the fact that the AI is known to be artificial. Continue reading “Ex Machina’s Artificial Intelligence: What Does It Say About Humanity?”