Upper Street Book Club – summer reading…see you in September
 
BLEEDING EDGE TECHNOLOGY. You have probably heard of ‘cutting edge’ or ‘leading edge’ technology – something at the forefront, the most advanced. Well, ‘bleeding edge’ is also at the current limit of innovation and research but is risky – in terms of potential success or investment – precisely because it is so new. Thus ‘bleed’ plays on the word ‘lead,’ with which it rhymes, and metaphorically suggests exposure to loss or injury.
 
THE UNCANNY VALLEY. Someone recently commented that the word ‘uncanny’ came up a lot in a TV gothic/crime series in which Mary Shelley and her novel ‘Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus,’ was frequently referenced. The ‘uncanny’ has long been associated with the gothic tradition, one in which the lines between reality and imagination, life and death and natural and unnatural are blurred. Freud, in a 1918 essay, defines ‘uncanny’ as something that is at once frightening, yet familiar. The term ‘uncanny valley’ is now used to describe the sensation of inauthenticity or sheer oddness of interacting with various types of AI – robots resembling humans or GPS/Siri type voice communication, for example. As humans detect a dip in empathy whilst interacting with these they experience an alienating, eerie sensation. It seems the attempt to create something ‘lifelike’ is beset by the same problems today as anticipated by Mary Shelley.
 
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