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This web journal consists of the final projects of the Augmented Realities humanities course at Duke University taught by Professor Amanda Gould. The course focused on technology’s effects on society through analysis of current trends in technology such as social media or wearable computing, and on implications of technology trends as seen in fiction. To develop a background on the latter, the books “Neuromancer,” by William Gibson, “The Difference Engine,” by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, and “Ebocloud,” by Rick Moss were read in addition to various digital humanities literature.

The essays are as follows:

Humanity of AI: The aim of this paper is to analyze the history and development of artificial intelligence. Analysis will include implementations of AI in the real world and in fiction. The media component is a simple chatbot constructed to demonstrate the disparity between perceived and actual intelligence.

Downfall: The computational ability of the human race has skyrocketed with the advent of computers. This essay analyzes the potential consequences of humanity’s increasing dependence on technology. Physical timelines are provided to help visualize what has occurred in science fiction novels as well as a program that provides the reader with a hypothetical situation and then asks the reader to determine what will happen as a result.

Text Visualization: Utilizes available digital tools and previous literature to demonstrate that it is possible to unearth different information from texts using visualization tools. The media element will be a unique text visualization method written by the author to demonstrate the benefits of text visualization.

Accessing the Mind: fMRI  scans are widely used to visualize activity in brains. Due to their visual appeal, they are often used outside of their laboratory contexts to demonstrate or argue certain points. The author analyzes fMRI technology to understand where neuroscience is currently at and explores how science fiction offers solutions to our current problems and predictions about how neuroscience will be applied in society in the future. The media element is a animation of brain scans. The purpose is expose flaws with fMRI and to critique arbitrary analysis of brain scans outside of a laboratory setting.

Biological Art: What is biological art? Can it be considered art or is it another ethical quandary that we must face as technology and science advances? Through a view of the evolution and history of the art form, along with examples of ethical boundary bending art pieces, one can elucidate the true value of the art form. The aim of my project is to visualize the occurrence of seizures using Electroencephalograph (EEG) data. By visualizing this data through music, one can vividly see the effect a seizure has on a patients brain and how large of an impact it has on normal brain function.

Technological Umwelten: Uexküll and Sebeok used the term “umwelt” in their semiotic theories to refer to each organism’s own self-centered world. They argued that different organisms sharing the same environment could still have entirely different umwelts, as they would each perceive and interpret their surroundings differently. This project will study how digital augmentations to individuals’ realities and various media options create different umwelts. It will also demonstrate this concept by creating content that will be perceived and perhaps interpreted differently depending on the medium through which the content is viewed and however the user’s perception of that medium might be augmented.

Batman/Joker Dynamic: This project aims to look at the various visual representations of their relationship across several media and observe the similarities and differences between them. The works that will be studied are The Dark Knight film by Christopher Nolan (2008), the graphic novels The Killing Joke by Alan Moore (1988) and The Man Who Laughs by Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke (2005), and the Warner Bros/Rocksteady video game Arkham Origins (2013)The project will also incorporate an analysis of the major plot lines and story progression of each work by means of a visual map of the major stages of Freytag’s Pyramid, which will include examples from each of the works listed.

Gaming: Perception & Decisions: This project aims to investigate the different genres of videos-games, such as action-adventure, role-playing (RPG), strategy games etc. and seeks to compare and contrast how these games, set in virtual (digital) worlds,  subconsciously alter our perceptions and decision-making process in the real (physical) world. The project will first attempt to boldly recontextualize the setting, plot and characters in various games to illustrate the societal impact if people acted exactly like video game characters.

Science DataVis: The goal of this project will be to investigate how augmenting the text of figures of scientific literature can alter the reader’s perception and interpretation of both the literature and the data. Interpreting the data in this manner sheds a different light on the subject and makes a connection between the concrete and abstract ideas associated with the disease and subsequently forms a bridge between the molecules, the scientists, and the patients.

Choice and Video Games: This project will examine how the element of choice defines games as a medium. In particular, the project will explore ways of presenting ideas which are not available to other media. It will also examine various cases in which the element of choice enhances or detracts from a game from a literary standpoint.

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