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Understanding New Media

Extending Marshall McLuhan – Second Edition


Robert K. Logan

Marshall McLuhan made many predictions in his seminal 1964 publication, Understanding Media: Extensions of Man. Among them were his predictions that the Internet would become a «global village,» making us more interconnected than television; the closing of the gap between consumers and producers; the elimination of space and time as barriers to communication; and the melting of national borders. He is also famously remembered for coining the expression «the medium is the message.» These predictions form the genesis of this updated volume by Robert K. Logan, a friend and colleague who worked with McLuhan. In this second edition of Understanding New Media Logan expertly updates McLuhan’s Understanding Media to analyze the «new media» McLuhan foreshadowed and yet was never able to analyze or experience. The book is designed to reach a new generation of readers as well as appealing to scholars and students who are familiar with Understanding Media.
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Chapter 48. Robots, Bots, and Agents


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· 48 ·


Content and extension: The robot extends and amplifies the automated factory and hence hand work (or manufacture). Bots and agents, computer programs that run automatically, are computer-based robots that extend and amplify a computer and/or the Internet. Robots, bots, and agents also extend and amplify the intentions of humans and hence their psyches.

Cascade: The robot is the end product of a cascading chain of media starting with the hand and including as intermediate states the mechanical factory and the automated factory. The cascade of bots and agents is from the mind of the user to a software program to a computer and from there to the Internet.

LOM: Robotics enhance machinery and human labor, obsolesce dangerous and arduous work, retrieve servants, and reverse into loss of human control.

48.1  Robots

A robot is a hybrid technology consisting of a computer and an electro-mechanical mechanism that can automatically perform tasks such as manufacturing, mining, exploration, or clean-ups in environments unsafe or ← 387 | 388 → difficult for human operators and repetitive activities that a human would find unmanageable after a prolonged period of time. Robots are now available for home consumers in the form of toys for entertainment purposes such as Sony’s popular Aibo dog robot and a vacuum cleaner that can automatically avoid obstacles such as furniture and return to its charging base when its battery begins to fade. Robots...

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