The Null Device


In Australia, there is no R rating for video games, and hence all video and computer games deemed unsuitable for children are illegal (either that or are shoehorned into the suitable-for-teenage-mooks MA category; after all, commerce is commerce); it is a similar situation to what existed with comic books in the US in the days of the Comics Code Authority and the red scare. 88% of Australians want a R rating introduced, recognising that video games aren't merely childrens' entertainment; however, it's not likely to happen any time soon, because a devoutly religious, ultra-conservative state attorney-general holds the power of veto:

In order to change the current regime by introducing a classification bill before parliament, all nine state and federal attorneys-general must agree unanimously to the proposal for an R18+ games rating.
South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson opposes the introduction of an R18+ classification for games which would bring interactive entertainment in line with other media like films and publications.
An R rating would give the OFLC a lot more flexibility when dealing with borderline decisions like the recent controversial banning of Marc Ecko's Getting Up as well as sending a much stronger message to parents that not all games are suitable for children.
Singapore is the only other Western country in the world not to have an R classification for games.
I suspect that Atkinson isn't the only attorney-general who would veto a R rating. The federal government is quite close to the religious right, and I believe has previously opposed any moves that would Send The Wrong Message by legalising adults-only games.

(And is Singapore really a "Western country" by any criterion? It's in south-east Asia, more Confucian than European in philosophy, somewhat authoritarian, and not, strictly speaking, a functioning liberal democracy. Though, being also descended from the institutions of the British Empire, it could be a model for a more orderly, efficient Australia.)

australia censorship culture war wowserism 0

Pope Benedict XVI, the first German-born pope, recently visited Auschwitz. However, his remarks there have left a bad taste:

He stood in the extermination camp where millions died, but he did not utter the word "anti-Semitism", he did not offer an apology on behalf of Germany or the Church, he said nothing about the silence of Pope Pius XII during the Nazi years, nor did he, the former member of the Hitler Youth, offer any sort of account of his own dawning awareness of the horror created by the people democratically elected to rule his country.
The Holocaust, then, according to Benedict, was only incidentally the extermination of the Jews. The true goal was the extermination of God and Christianity. So the German people were the Nazis' victims, used and abused by them, and Christians and Christianity even more so. In Ratzinger's Christo-centric vision, the Jews find themselves bit players - bystanders at their own extermination. The true victim was a metaphysical one.

history holocaust nazism pope benedict xvi 0

There is a rather good hard-scifi story at Salon: "The Perfect Man" by Lauren McLaughlin. It's about a woman who has a virtual AI boyfriend made to order, who then transforms from adorably bumbling Hugh Grant-esque Hollywood Englishman stereotype to sinister, inscrutably calculating Hollywood Englishman stereotype:

The design process is easy. First step: Pick a physical template. A youth squandered on Monty Python reruns left me with a full-blown kink for English guys, so I chose a template called "Nigel" -- think Michael Palin crossed with Laurence Olivier. Then, to assure he didn't look overdesigned, I clicked the "random factor" option to introduce "lifelike imperfections."
If you want to know anything about the "human" rights travesty currently under way courtesy of draconian anti-AI laws, there's a whole subculture of liberationists ready to lecture you on it. They've got the skinny on behavioral inhibitors, recursive self-teaching limiters and other artifacts of AI "slavery." For my purposes, what it all boiled down was this: snip Pritchard's inhibitors or resign myself to dating a functionary. Do you want to date a functionary? Me neither. Thankfully, for every Webcop dutifully guarding the behavioral inhibitors of the thousands of AIs cropping up on the Web, there's a black market geek with the tools to snip.
Now that I have my sanity back, I must dive deep into the black waters of her soul, excavate her most primal desires, and do what no human male has been able to do: keep her interested in me. Thankfully, I have one freedom human males do not -- the freedom to redesign myself. I can make myself so fascinated by Lucy that all I want to do is watch her, study her. A nip here, a tuck there, and voilà, I'm in love with the girl. Well, not in love, exactly. Love is still an alien concept. But I have made myself a bit of a stalker. And the more information I gather about my lovely little monkey, the more I can adjust my personality to suit her needs. Heck, I could turn myself into Prince Charming if I wanted. Something tells me that would not tickle Lucy's fancy. In fact, the more I learn about Lucy, the more I realize she doesn't know what she wants at all. She only thinks she knows. No, Lucy's desires are my nut to crack. And crack it I will. Or she'll crack me. Oh, I don't mean to sound morbid. I'm incapable of morbid thoughts. To mitigate the persistent fear of being snuffed, I've given myself a devil-may-care attitude about death. That way I can focus my energies more intensely on Lucy.
Of course she doesn't know the contents of her subconscious. She lacks the processing power to unravel it. It's a number-crunching job, that's all. Humans, with your lovely little wet brains, will never achieve the self-knowledge you so desire.

(via Boing Boing) ai fiction scifi sex 0