Our A.I. love/fright affair

Standard

UltronEver 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

Advertisements

Ex Machina: Humans vs A.I… of course

Standard
Ava in Ex Machina

Ava, the robot featured in Ex Machina

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.)

Read on; no spoilers ahead.

Continue reading

Star Trek: Federation

Standard

Star Trek: Federation logoI 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

Humans as AI’s pets? …Okay.

Standard

“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.”

Steve WozniakSo 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

Mini- and micro-cars: Opportunity being missed

Standard

Elio mini-carA 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

Screw Apple watch; I want a Neptune Hub

Standard

Neptune HubWhile the world is in an ongoing buzz over the over-hyped, over-priced Apple Smart Watch, and actively comparing it to other smartwatch offerings from various manufacturers, some of us are enjoying the news around Canadian inventor Simon Tian’s concept, the Neptune Hub, expected to be available later this year.  Put simply, this is the future of personal computing and communications that I look forward to… because I’ve already written about and used it myself.

Tian’s Neptune Hub is unique because it represents a different overall configuration for personal computing: The device worn around your wrist is literally the Hub of your computer and communications system, the source of your files and computing power, and you access it through its own display and through the use of peripheral extensions. Continue reading

Nichelle Nichols: An icon and inspiration

Standard

On this International Women’s Day, I was presented with a picture of this famous woman and asked what she meant to me.

Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols, sitting in the Captain’s chair of the starship Enterprise.

This was an easy one. Continue reading