Digit-al Symptoms
Anthropology News
by Managing Editor
3d ago
When AI-generated images began to flood the internet in autumn 2022, beholders were struck by the naturalism of these algorithmically rendered human figures, objects, and environments. One niggling issue became apparent though: the AIs couldn’t get a handle on the finer details of human anatomy. Hands, ears, teeth, and toes appeared in uncanny forms, exhibiting too few or too many articulations, strange meldings, impossible configurations. Some commentators breathed a sigh of relief at this evidence of AI fallibility. Others reflected on why these glitched details caused (human) viewers so muc ..read more
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Vocal Robots
Anthropology News
by Managing Editor
3d ago
Language work defines the globalized new economy and, with it, strategies for managing how we do language. Emerging voice technologies in contexts like call centers represent the latest attempt to create the perfect language worker.  Who Am I Speaking With? Grace is, by all accounts, the perfect call center operator. She picks up calls without hesitation and, not one to interrupt, listens patiently to the customer’s every need. When it’s time to speak, Grace responds with both reassurances and practical solutions. All the while, she reminds the customer of her attention through subtle cue ..read more
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“Tell Me a Singlish Joke”: Making and Breaking Linguistic-National Boundaries through ChatGPT in Singapore—and Beyond
Anthropology News
by Managing Editor
3d ago
Can ChatGPT tell a joke in Singlish? In recent years, AI-powered chatbots based on large language models (LLMs)—especially ChatGPT, but also bots like Google Bard—have increasingly generated both excitement and alarm. The tools demonstrate an uncanny ability to seemingly do everything a human can do, from writing award-winning novels and generating academic articles that get past rigorous peer-review processes to DungeonMastering some pretty good DND playthroughs. LLMs’ seemingly limitless abilities have led to widespread celebration and awe, but they’ve also been ..read more
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Call for Pitches: Praxis
Anthropology News
by Sean Mallin
2w ago
Issued: June 6, 2024 Pitches due: rolling until September 1 First drafts due: 3 weeks after pitch decision Submit Pitch Here As the 2024 American Anthropological Association (AAA) annual meeting approaches, Anthropology News invites submissions that delve into the dynamic realm of anthropological praxis. We are seeking stories that bring to life the processes by which anthropological theories, skills, methods, and solutions are enacted, embodied, and put into practice across diverse contexts. We welcome submissions that explore the multifaceted ways in which anthropological praxis is manifes ..read more
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How Beggars Help Us Understand Public Space in China and Beyond
Anthropology News
by Managing Editor
3w ago
Performances of panhandling in Guangzhou teach us about public space in modern Chinese cities and elsewhere. Guangzhou—also known as Canton—is a city of zuo shengyi, of “doing business.” As one of the oldest trade harbors in the south of China, Guangzhou opened up early when the country’s reform program of 1978 reintroduced the importance of money and markets. As a result, its bustling shopping streets are loud and radiant, with music blaring from the stores and clerks or automated megaphones shouting out the latest offers. Uniqlo, KFC, Metersbonwe—well-established national and inter ..read more
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George Roth
Anthropology News
by Sean Mallin
1M ago
1940–2023 George Roth died on December 11, 2023, from a rare disease, CIPD, which is similar to ALS.   George, who had one older brother, was born in 1940 in the Bronx. In 1947, the family moved to Tucson, AZ. Tucson was a very small town at the time, but he enjoyed living in the desert. After graduating from high school in 1958, he enrolled at Reed College because of a high school science teacher he much admired. He majored in anthropology at Reed, and greatly enjoyed madrigal and other singing. After graduation, he went to the University of Chicago, where he earned an MA and met hi ..read more
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A Reliable Narrator
Anthropology News
by Sean Mallin
1M ago
“You are too old to be a refugee.” “You can’t stay in this country unless you serve four years in the military. And then when your kid is old enough, he has to serve four years too.” “If you don’t have a police report that confirms what you’re telling me, you’re going to be deported. They’ll know you’re lying. You have to have proof to stay here.” “You are a liar. You couldn’t have come this long of a way on your own. Not without a coyote. You’re telling me that you didn’t have a coyote? Then you must be a coyote yourself.” “You are a liar. You don’t look like a r*pe victim.” “The border is cl ..read more
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Is There Something Fishy about the Polygraph?
Anthropology News
by Sean Mallin
1M ago
August 9, 2016, was a good day for Phil Heasley, the CEO of a financial services company in Florida. Fishing with his crew of three off the coast of Maryland from his 68-foot luxury yacht, Kallianassa, he caught a white marlin that was six feet long and weighed 76.5 pounds. Heasley was competing in Ocean City’s annual White Marlin Open competition, the world’s largest billfishing tournament. His was one of 1,389 white marlin caught during that year’s competition, but was the only one to clear the 70-pound minimum that conferred eligibility for the prize. That meant that he got all the prize mo ..read more
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Airlock: Deception and the Circulation of Beer in Urban Zimbabwe
Anthropology News
by Sean Mallin
1M ago
Airlock1: When air enters a diesel fuel system, preventing proper combustion. Usually caused by an empty tank. Airlock2 [Zimbabwean slang]: When “gas” (alcohol) stops flowing, preventing a proper level of inebriation. Usually caused by empty pockets. Most people have heard the lie, “I don’t have money.” Indeed, some of us have told it. It is not the sort of claim one takes at face value, though. Instead, it is generally understood to mean “I don’t have money for this,” or more pointedly, “I don’t have money for you.”  In other words, when a person feigns being broke, norms concerning the ..read more
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Transitory Facades: Architectures of the Middle-Somewhere
Anthropology News
by Sean Mallin
1M ago
Credit: Seema Krishnakumar The Palace, as encountered from the car, alongside the highway, on the way from the small town of Sangareddy toward the metropolis of Hyderabad Facades of buildings, like faces, can wear masks. They can masquerade as something they are not. Hotel: The Palace, situated on India’s National Highway-65, between the big city of Hyderabad and the small town of Sangareddy, is both and neither of its named components. In the local parlance, a “hotel” is a place to eat, but not really a place to stay. In the south-central landscape of India, where ancient rocks are being e ..read more
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