Bella Baxter and the Machine: On Yorgos Lanthimos’s “Poor Things” and Julie Wosk’s “Artificial Women”

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Thain, Marion. "Bella Baxter and the Machine: On Yorgos Lanthimos’s POOR THINGS and Julie Wosk’s Artificial Women. Los Angeles Review of Books 10 June 2024. As of June 2024, on line here.[1]

From opening of article:

It seems no coincidence that Yorgos Lanthimos’s cinematic rendition of Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel Poor Things [...] would come at a time of obsessive commentary about the possibilities and threats of AI. While Lanthimos’s movie has nothing, ostensibly, to say about digital technologies (beyond its own production process), the publication this year of Julie Wosk’s Artificial Women: Sex Dolls, Robot Caregivers, and More Facsimile Females provides a context for considering the potential of the film in the public imaginary.

Wosk’s study explores the construction of artificial women in the age of AI as sex robots, care providers, domestic servants, and the disembodied voices of our digital tools and personal assistants. Considering both actually manufactured women and the many artworks that fabricate them as fictions, Artificial Women explores the strange phenomenon of womanhood in the artificially generated human world. Such constructions, Wosk argues, offer a potent way to recognize gender stereotypes and analyze how they have shifted over the years. The way female robots are now being made to represent an ever-greater diversity of ethnicity and body types, for example, tells us about our own changing cultural expectations. Similarly, one can pick apart the construction of female-voiced virtual assistants to observe the “lingering element of the gender stereotypes that inform their designs and responses (and recent research highlights the bias toward masculinity in their technological design).” And the gendering of AI-powered care robots is raising afresh debates about whether women are more “naturally” empathetic than men. [...]

Simultaneously, writers of fiction (novelists, filmmakers, playwrights, etc.) have long interacted with the phenomenon of the literally manufactured woman, continuing to question, transform, and challenge the stereotypes those creations reaffirm.

See for artificial intelligence (AI) and the theme of the female robot in METROPOLIS, EX MACHINA, and "Helen O'Loy," and numerous other works cited on this wiki.[2] See also for real-world robots as caregivers, and while using Siri or Alexa.

RDE, finishing, 16Jun24