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Still from ANA on DUST at YouTube

A Mind Matters Review: Sci-Fi Shorts of the Week

With human input, Sunspring starts to make sense

Looking for a good robots, AI, and sci-fi fix to get your weekend going? Mind Matters has you covered. Check out our weekly updates for don’t-miss shorts and animations.

This week, watch a collaboration between deep learning and human creativity produce something far more coherent than Sunspring. And check out an animation on the pitfalls of emotional intelligence.

Progress Bar – an A.I. co-written short film

Runtime | 6:31

Cleanliness | 5/5

Would I Recommend? | 5/5

This short is from the studio that produced Sunspring. This time, however, the script and directing were done by actual people. The video’s description sums it up best: “This film was written and directed by a human, however, LEXI’s dialogue was generated by RivetAI, an artificial intelligence program. Progress Bar is an experiment that attempts to guide the absurdity of dialogue generated by A.I. (as seen in Sunspring) into a more traditional (human-written) narrative film structure. Starring Jennifer Kim (Search Party, Mozart in the Jungle) Lucy Walters (Get Shorty, Power) and Kevin Breznahan (The Deuce, Billions)”.

It’s a fun watch, and an interesting look at the integration between augmented reality and artificial intelligence. I do find it too ironic, however, that it took the creative direction of an artist to turn the dialogue into something watchable.

ANA, presented by DUST, a YouTube channel dedicated to short sci-fi.

Runtime | 5:29

Cleanliness | 4.5/5

Would I Recommend? | 4.5/5

Another great sci-fi short from DUST. ANA is a cliffhanger overlooking a much larger world. A factory foreman is tasked with managing ANA, the AI that controls an automated assembly line. When ANA tricks the foreman into giving her control, however, she decides to stop making cars. Instead, she has something a little more… intimidating in mind.

EI: Emotional Intelligence presented by DUST

Runtime | 8:28

Cleanliness | 5/5

Would I Recommend? | 5/5

This is a fantastic animation. It’s beautiful and the narration is well-suited to it. It’s a story about EI; not AI. EI is an emotional intelligence; an AI whose purpose is expressing and conveying empathy, love, and sympathy. While the narrative is somewhat murky at times, the director’s point still comes across clearly.

Autonomous by George Varotsis | TheCGBros

Runtime | 11:04

Cleanliness | 4.5/5

Would I Recommend? | 3/5

This is the first short on our lists that isn’t from DUST (which is a compliment to DUST). Like Blade Runner, Autonomous offers a twist that, although used very often, is still an “oh no!” moment. The short obviously didn’t have a large Hollywood budget because the audio mix and fight scene featured poor production values. But if you like good old-fashioned sci-fi with men in black leather, then give this one a watch.

Also by Adam Nieri: A Mind Matters Review: AI Week at DUST: The sci-fi short films channel


Adam Nieri

Adam Nieri, Program Assistant, has interests in philosophy of science and philosophy of mind, and he holds an MA in Science and Religion from Biola University. He has background in social media and marketing, photography/graphic design, IT, and teaching.

A Mind Matters Review: Sci-Fi Shorts of the Week