Original post here.
From being blandly known as ‘UI – 1017’, to becoming known as ‘Jester’, Ethan Levin’s bug has most definitely been given quite the personification at Telligentsia. While this has become one of the more obvious trends occurring in our story, there is yet another interesting aspect to Ethan Levin’s transformation that we have viewed so far throughout the novel. Since his hobby was introduced to us in part one of the novel, Ethan Levin has become even more obsessed with working on it (though he has made, as of yet, little progress). Put simply, he is attempting to create a balanced simulation of living organisms. We see that Levin is increasingly more interested in emulating nature and, by extension, life itself. Over the same course of time, he is abstracting himself away from it.
In class we discussed Hayles “Narrative and Database”. In it she explains the undeniable symbiosis between the two titular concepts: “narrative” and “database”. Each one requires the other to continue its existence in a useful manner. Though it may be a bit of a stretch to make this connection, I perceive a similar relation between Levin and computers in general. Not only is this ‘bug’ in the project transforming Ethan Levin’s daily processes into something more machine-like (albeit forcibly), Ethan Levin, in return, is sort of ‘teaching’ the computer to be more ‘life-like’.
This is clearly visible today. Under man’s tutelage, machines are obtaining ways to become more human. The human brain is a complex organ, and we only scratch the surface when it comes to telling what we definitely know about it. Not to be hindered, well underway are projects that give computers a virtual “neural network” like ourselves. Although these projects still have a long way to go, and many improvements to be made, they have been met with success. Google took a stab at creating a network that could reason like the human brain. The project was successful. The result was a system that learned to differentiate between a human and a cat by watching YouTube videos. Then Nvidia, a worldwide technology company, made an attempt. They came up with a network that could sort dogs based on their breed.
This brings back the theme we discussed in class of what technology allows us to do. Ethan Levin is, himself, blurring the once solid line between digital and analog. And so are we.