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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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20

The Future of New Media

Embodying Kurzweil's Singularity in Dollhouse, Battlestar Galactica, and Gamer

David Golumbia

ABSTRACT

In this chapter, David Golumbia argues that computationalist ideology – the view that everything in reality is ultimately made up of computation – can be seen with particular clarity in what he calls “the uploading story.” According to this story, we human beings are on the verge of losing our human embodiment and our contact with everyday reality, and moving into a world where our minds merge with computers and we inhabit virtual realities much like those seen in videogames. A prominent exemplar of this story is found in the work of inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who claims that we are heading toward a profound transformation he and others call “The Singularity.” Golumbia argues that the premise of Kurzweil's “Singularity” reads very much like the fantastic versions of “uploading” that have been widespread in computational thought for decades. To expose the conceptual flaws in the uploading story and its incarnation in Kurzweil's “Singularity,” Golumbia examines a selection of recent television series and films that use this story as their narrative foundation. Dollhouse, Battlestar Galactica, and Gamer constitute a kind of demonstrative interrogation of the uploading fantasy, Golumbia argues, revealing its central contradiction – namely, that it relies not on actual technological advances but on distortions beyond any recognizable limits of our ...

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