Are We Overthinking the Dangers of Artificial Intelligence?


skynetIn this IO9 article, George Dvorsky talks to SF author David Brin about our society’s inherent over-reaction to and fear of technology.  His comments parallel recent articles and press releases of Project Hieroglyph, in promoting a positive outlook in science fiction, and he sums up the biggest problem here:

The problem with Hollywood, and cable news and yes, much written sci fi, as well, is that the very notion of adult process is anathema! it is seen as a killer of what Hollywood needs most… drama! Fast-paced peril and pure heroes opposing pure evil!

He also calls out one of my old favorite authors, Michael Crichton, for building his reputation on stories where basically the purity of science and technology was corrupted by a few people ignoring accepted safeguards, or working in secret with some hidden agenda, and thereby creating deadly nanotechnology or dinosaurs running amok.

My take: David Brin Johnson is right! (Hurerrer!) It’s good to hear a bit of common sense applied to technological development, and the fears largely caused not by the technology, but by our own lack of care.

The Dangers of Franchise Longevity

X-Men cover

Thanks to franchise longevity… she didn’t die, of course. Phoenix was worth so much more alive.

In the article The Dangers of Franchise Longevity, IO9 contributor lightninglouie examines the trend for popular series, for example the Simpsons and the X-Men, to eventually lose the unique quality that made them special and popular and end up as stereotypical as the rest of the media morass in their genre.

“There is a big danger associated with longevity, and it’s not what you’d think. Often you hear about creators losing sight of what the franchise was supposed to be about and going off on a bunch of pointless tangents. But I don’t think that’s the real risk at all. The big concern is that the people who are in charge of the thing will turn it into what they thought it was supposed to be all along.”

LL singles out other series falling into this, but I suppose the one that stings the most, to me, is Star Trek, going from its origins as a pseudo-intelligent study of the human condition and optimism for the future, into a senseless space combat franchise full of 50-year-old sci-fi gag tropes.  Read the article.

No more hiding behind aliases


Steven Lyle JordanI’ve decided to ditch the alias I’ve been using on Kinja pages (like IO9) and and start using my real name.

Fake names and aliases tend to inspire people to do and say things they wouldn’t do or say when people know who they are. People also don’t take you seriously when you hide behind an alias. This simple fact is the cause of most of the angst, trolling and attacks that take place on the web. Continue reading

A little perspective


Some cool images have been bouncing around IO9 for the past few days, related to the orbits of our Solar System, and attempting to point out some fallacies.

The first is a video that attempts to illustrate the fact that, although it seems the planets orbit the Sun in a more or less circular, or heliocentric, orbit… in fact, the Sun is orbiting the Milky Way galaxy at 43,000 miles per hour… and the Milky Way itself is moving at 1.3 million miles per hour.  The result: The planets are all moving in a helical orbit, being pulled along by the Sun’s gravity.

The first video (above) is a nice way to envision this.  It’s also wrong, of course.

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The GOP war on science


My New Best Friend at IO9, Mark Strauss, has contributed an excellent sample from a hearing held by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology to review the White House’s fiscal year 2015 budget request for science agencies. As illustrated in the article, various GOP leaders, the very people who ruin the United States of America (excuse me, I meant “run”—Freudian slip.  heh), managed, very deftly, to prove how little they know, and how little they want to know, about science and how the planet works.  The snippets Strauss found are more than sobering; they’re downright nauseating.  (If you’re really into masochism, feel free to watch the 2-hour video of the hearing.)

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