Ever stop to think about humans’ state of affairs with artificial intelligence (A.I.)? It’s a lot like a girl who’s fallen in love with a charming, attractive man who is also a serial killer: She is aware that he is dangerous, maybe even lethal; but she forces herself to love him anyway, trusting that her faith in his inner goodness will win out in the end and not leave her in a shallow grave in little, hacked-up pieces.
Or, rather, that’s how our relationship with A.I. could be; in actual fact, we stay with A.I. because we need its help, but we expect it’s going to turn and hack us up any second now. Continue reading
I had the chance to see the new movie Ex Machina (pronounced: Ex Ma-Khi-na) in a sort of “boutique” theater, the ArcLight Theater in Bethesda. The ArcLight presents a more upscale theater-going experience, which turned out to be perfect for Ex Machina, as it’s an upscale telling of the “humans vs A.I.” theme that is usually represented (crudely) by the Terminator franchise, (genocidally) by Galactica or (lightly) by Star Trek.
And for “upscale,” how did it do? Masterfully. Overall, a five-star experience—if you’re okay with science fiction movies that don’t feature space ships and ‘splosions and ask you to use more than five brain cells at a time. (Oh, yeah, there’s a bit of sexual language and nudity, so leave the kids at home.)
I was just recently introduced to a concept for a Star Trek TV series, conceived of about ten years ago to pitch to Paramount/CBS. It has re-entered the news recently since Star Trek is rapidly coming up on its 50th anniversary, and so many people would like to see a new Trek TV series on the air when the date hits.
Alas, this idea was never actually pitched to Paramount/CBS, as JJ Abrams came along and made his new movie, which did well enough that Paramount put aside the idea of creating a new TV show for the foreseeable future. Recent rumors, largely circulated by Latino Review, that this series idea was actually in development, apparently have no basis in fact.
And it’s a shame, because Star Trek: Federation, while maybe not being a perfectly fleshed out proposal, nonetheless has some great ideas for a new Trek series. Continue reading
“Like people including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have predicted, I agree that the future is scary and very bad for people. If we build these devices to take care of everything for us, eventually they’ll think faster than us and they’ll get rid of the slow humans to run companies more efficiently.”
So spoke Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in an interview with the Australian Financial Review. And he’s not alone. It seems everyone from renowned scientists to prominent science fiction authors to SF moviemakers all believe that the “robopocalypse” is nigh, and it spells doom for the human race. Though maybe it’s significant that we haven’t heard the same from programmers or psychologists over the years… because, so far, no one has managed to come up with a compelling reason why AI would want (or even need) to take over the world… as I’ve said myself in the past.
Regardless, I’d like to address the other half of that comment for the moment: The idea that humans, once the AIs take over, would subjugate us or just plain wipe us out. Wozniak himself described humans post-robopocalypse as the “pets” of computers… and implied that that was a bad thing. I strongly challenge that idea. Continue reading
A recent Facebook post about the long-delayed Elio mini-car started a discussion about the dearth of similar vehicles out there for American drivers. Many of these cars have been pitched for over a decade, but just can’t seem to get the financing or support to actually achieve serious (or, in most cases, any) production and distribution. And that’s a shame, because they are missing what may be their only opportunity to shine… before it will be too late for them to run on American roads at all. Continue reading
Two days ago, I wrote about the Consequences of our actions, and how they are often more important than the initial actions themselves. Yesterday, I wrote about what makes humans Special, their ability to learn so much about our world and apply that knowledge to super-humanize ourselves.
Which means now it’s time to apply those lessons into Responsibility… or Onus. Continue reading
Occasionally people who know I’ve done some writing would ask me if I’d consider writing this kind of story, why don’t I write that kind of story, etc… you know, the ones that tend to be very epic, very popular, often made into movies, and get talked about incessantly. And in many cases, I’ve had a very good reason for my not wanting to write those kinds of stories.
Must be all these hours snow-bound in front of my computer… maybe the sub-zero cold is starting to freeze some (some?) of my brain cells… but it occurred to me the other day that Khan Noonian Singh must have been railroaded. (And so were we.)
Star Trek’s Federation history includes, among many other things, the fact that Earth had a World War III, and later, a Eugenics War, the combination of which tore Terran countries and societies apart. It was from this series of disasters that Earth’s leaders finally started working together on a platform of mutual trust and cooperation, rebuilding the first truly global society. This society eventually came to provide a universal living wage, food and housing for all, worldwide access to medicine, education and opportunities to do what they wanted beyond basic subsistence.
We also know, from the Star Trek Original Series episode “Space Seed,” that Khan and his followers were part of a group of genetically-engineered superior humans who tried, in Khan’s own words, to “give the world order.” He and his people were soundly defeated in the Eugenics Wars and forced to flee Earth to escape prosecution.
But I now believe there’s more to the story than that… and a hint as to how Star Trek Into Daftness could have actually become a great movie. Continue reading