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PS Your Cat is Dead


Margaret Soltan, March 8, 2019 7:04PM
Posted in: where the simulacrum ends

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5 Responses to “PS Your Cat is Dead”

  1. Ravi Narasimhan Says:

    An LOL for this horrific incident? I had Kaiser medical for a couple of years. Unfortunately, their brand of garbage MBA medicine is the future. Expect their consent forms to have this kind of savagery written into the fine print.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Ravi: Yes. LOL. It’s not horrific or savage; it’s postmodern.

  3. Ravi Narasimhan Says:

    I come to your land from the physical sciences and don’t fully speak the language. Can you share your definition of ‘postmodern’? I keep looking it up every time I see it and I get something different every time.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Ravi: Like “modern” and “modernist,” postmodern and postmodernist can indeed be made to mean a lot of things. But I’m using it here in the following restricted sense, rather in line with the category I chose for this post: Where the simulacrum ends..

    While “modern” is often used to designate the visible tactile technology of the industrial era (smoke stacks, turbines, captured in the photography for example of Margaret Bourke-White), postmodern designates the invisible, screen-based technology that comes after this, in the later 20th and now 21st century. It describes the “Blade Runner” world of post-human, often robot-centered and/or screen-centered technology.

    Robo-doc is – to me – one absurdly comic culmination of this general trend toward the replacement of human life, human presence, human interaction, by robots and screens — the replacement of the real by the simulacral, the projected image rather than the immediate presence.

    That this technology presents itself not as dystopic (as in the film and as in most pomo films – see for a more recent example the adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel Cosmopolis) but rather as efficient and normal — I mean, the image of that robot trundling into that hospital room! – is a further iteration, a further normalization, of omnipresent screen technology.

  5. Ravi Narasimhan Says:

    I appreciate the definition and think that I now understand your ‘LOL’ a little better, if not completely. Unfortunately, I don’t see Robo-doc as a culmination but just another step downstairs. The screens are only at the interface and any role they play in communication is minor compared to their role as collectors. The bits go into a network which has taken on a life of its own. There’s no way to know let alone understand what’s happening in there since it takes equally powerful computing to navigate it. Robots will supplant humans in the near-term but I wonder what will happen when even they aren’t needed any longer.

    You’re also right that Robodoc is no longer dystopic. It is being flogged by my employer and the few health plans it still offers as a way to better care, lower premiums and, more subtly, a way for us to be better employees by reducing corporate’s expenses. Kaiser is at the forefront of this. They recently opened a storefront in my neighborhood with some human presence and a lot of screens for video consultations.

    While I don’t look forward to future medicine, I do like the idea of virtual travel. It’d be nice to have someone carry a high-def camera where I’d like and beam it all back into a headset. The Swiss have done a nice job of this with a virtual walking tour from Thusis to Tirano: http://www.webwandern.ch/en/stages/

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