Radical Minsky?

by tommy.rousse

I had never read all of Marvin Minsky’s seminal essay “Telepresence,” nor had it really sunk in that its venue was venerable sci-fi mag Omni.1 I was surprised to say the least to read his radical conclusion, shortly after considering telepresence’s possibility for increasing alienation:

Finally, in a strange sense, the question of “technological unemployment” may become moot. Many young people today consider it demeaning to be bound to any single employer, occupation, or even culture. Perhaps many of us sense—at least on some level—that little of what we do really needs to be done. Our attitudes about work, about changing the quality of it, depend as much on our own dispositions and our alternatives as on the jobs themselves. In effect, most of us already feel technologically unemployed.

—Marvin Minsky, “Telepresence” (1980)

Is there an uncanny telepresence whose dissonance occurs on an affective level?  Can we include the workification of play & the gamification of exploitation within the concept?  Nudging too close to simulation fever?  I don’t know; I haven’t figured it out yet.  Maybe after some Freud, so I have a better notion of the uncanny.  I’m becoming more interested in the negative experiences of play inevitable after sinking thousands of hours into video games.

  1. He thanks Asimov, Heinlein & Sagan in the footnotes!