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Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Adam Nieri

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robotic arm catch for electronic assembly line. The robot for smart technology manufacturing process.

What to make of Erica, the AI Superstar Robot?

I have a hard time conceiving of a way that this film could be successful without a little bit of cheating.

An AI super star? In case sci-fi fans haven’t heard, there is a new actress on the block. Her name is Erica and she is a… robot. According to the Hollywood Reporter Erica will star in a sci-fi film called b, “b follows a scientist who discovers dangers associated with a program he created to perfect human DNA and helps the artificially intelligent woman he designed (Erica) escape.” A part of me chuckles, thinking of the creepy uncanny valley Youtube videos of failed attempts at human-like robotics. However, robotics doesn’t seem to be the center of attention here. As Hollywood Reporter also reports, b is, “a $70 million science fiction film which producers say will be the first to rely Read More ›

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Gemstones collection jewelry set.

Two More Hidden Gems Among the Sci-Fi Shorts

I spotted both of these gems on Short of the Week and was instantly intrigued

Back in the old days, I used to endlessly browse YouTube for short films; hoping I would find a hidden gem. Don’t get me wrong, I have respect for any aspiring filmmaker but short films can be very difficult to pull off. It could certainly be said that each film deserves respect in one way or another. Every now and then, however, I would find something brilliant hidden in the corners of YouTube. Nowadays, though, Short of the Week has pretty much taken the burden of searching off my hands. First up, we have This Time Away (2019): Nigel is an elderly man living as a recluse, haunted by his past and memory of the family he once had, until Read More ›

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ufo flying over the desert

Close Encounters, Fifth Kind, Just Missed Contact

Worth a watch but Stephen Greer and I part company when he makes clear that he believes everything is conscious

In his documentary on UFOs, Stephen Greer certainly gets one thing right: Consciousness doesn’t fit into conventional science inquiry.

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Circuit board with CPU.  Motherboard system chip with glowing processor. Computer´s technology and internet concept.

Devs Both Grips and Challenges Hulu Viewers

I had fully expected Devs to be yet another series about sentient AI but it is something fresher

Alex Garland departs from conventional sci-fi themes to create a thought-provoking film, packed with action and based on a challenging underlying philosophy.

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sunset photograph during nighttime

Will Twilight Zone 2020 Soar or Sink?

Season 1 featured too much message, only some good stories, and ratings seem to have suffered

If Season 2 follows Season 1's pattern, we can definitely expect more politically and socially driven narratives— but will the stories sparkle?

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Curved video wall

My Five Top Picks in Short Sci-Fi from DUST at YouTube

I'm glad I decided to revisit DUST, a wonderful community of short, free sci-fi films

They’ll sure take your mind off lockdown. Both “Hum” and “Alientology” feature a simple storyline that works in a short film. “EI: Emotional Intelligence,” an animated short, compares well with live action shorts. “Exit Strategy” is one of the few really successful sci-fi films on the topic of time. And I would love to see “The Secret Number” made into a feature film. 

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Portrait of bored sleepless young man sitting on the couch watching TV at night

Sci-fi Culture: There’s Life Here on Planet Covid!

But you have to look hard. Here’s some help
With major releases postponed, we sci-fi fans tirelessly check our email and bookmarked sci-fi news sites for any good news. If you’re one of those, have no fear! I’ve compiled a short list of what’s been going on in the community over the past few weeks. Expect to see more updates like these as long as needed. Read More ›
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Amazon Prime’s Tales from the Loop: A Bold Attempt To Capture Stålenhag’s Work

… now if only it reached the right demographic

Deep underneath a small town in Ohio there exists the Loop, a facility created to explore the mysteries of the universe. No one really knows for sure what is going on at the Loop though we are given glimpses. Strange events occur on Earth’s surface as a result. Each episode explores one of those events.

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Landing strip spaceship interior 3D rendering elements of this image furnished by NASA

Epix’s New War of the Worlds Gets Personal

And it works! Wells’s alien invasion (state of emergency, lockdowns) feels familiar in the world of COVID-19

Although the new series is set in Europe, the dialogue is mostly in English. We follow the paths of several apocalypse survivors who seek refuge from the alien robots that are killing any remaining humans. I love the tension that the show conveys and the characters it seeks to develop.

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Senior couple having fun at home playing video game holding joysticks in hands.Quarantine.

Shelter in Place? Your Sci-Fi Video Game Binge List

You’ll never know where the long hours went, courtesy Sci-Fi Saturday at Mind Matters News

Has your ISP lifted bandwidth limits in your area due to thousands more Americans working from home? Great news for gamers too! Here’s my list of top-notch sci-fi apocalypse games.

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Covid-19, coronavirus that causes respiratory infections, Sars-CoV-2 virus background

How Sci-Fi Treats Pandemics

Seven sci-fi apocalypses to help you wait out COVID-19

One thing for sure, all those doomsday preppers, at whom we silently rolled our eyes years ago, are now crackin’ a secret smile. Never mind, us sci-fi buffs are going to need more than fizzy water and disinfectant. We need food for the mind! Here's a sci-fi binge list, to keep our minds occupied.

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Still Image from short film Dirty Machines

Dirty Machines: Short Time Travel Flick Exceeds Expectations

A Mind Matters Short Film Review

A tense soundtrack, intriguing ending, and thoughtful stylistic choices make Dirty Machines: The End of History a thoughtful exploration of a logically tricky subject. Now, if the director can just resist the temptation to get woke…

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Science fiction city dystopia panorama / 3D illustration of futuristic post apocalyptic sci-fi city ruins under bright sky

Tales of the Loop: Pushing the Boundaries of the Possible

Simon Stålenhag’s captivating post-apocalyptic landscapes remind us that the world could, at any time, be different from what we think it is

Science fiction, as an art, has always meant to inspire. It’s meant to push the boundaries of the possible. And Stålenhag’s world isn’t just different, it’s unique.

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Businessman seeing himself in mirror as superhero

Does Science Fiction Encourage Narcissism?

As a sci-fi critic, I think most fans are just looking for a genre where they can understand and be understood

It’s true that many people who are attracted to science fiction feel like outcasts or disconnected from mainstream popular culture. And many of them feel welcome, loved, accepted, and validated in the sci-fi community. Does that really make them narcissists?

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3D Illustration with exotic deep space formations

Star Trek: Picard—On Second Thought, Some Serious Quibbles

A Mind Matters review: Now that I’m four episodes in, I’ve gotta say, the “haters” might be onto something. Not everything but something

Why does Picard seem to be obsessed with Commander Data? And what happened to The Federation? Star Trek fans are quick to point out that Star Trek: Picard takes an unnecessary malevolent tone towards The Federation. Why do the Romulans look different? I’m still watching but I’d like some answers.

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The Expanse, Season 4: The Best So Far?

A Mind Matters Perspective: Unlike critic Zac Giaimo, I preferred Season 3 but it really depends on what you are looking for

Season 4 is, as critic Zac Giaimo notes, integral to character building and plot development for the overall series. I gave it 9/10 in an earlier review. However, I don’t know if I completely agree with Giaimo’s Amazonian optimism. Season 3 set up urgent questions that should be answered by the end of the show, preferably beginning in Season 5.

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Planet surface

Picard (2020): Episode 1 Is an AI-Themed Mystery

The mystery is related to another familiar Star Trek character

Seeing the Star Trek universe from a different perspective—that is, not from the interior of a starship—was super refreshing and rewarding. It gives viewers a unique look at what day-to-day life is like for other people (much as The Mandalorian did for the Star Wars universe).

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Man typing on keyboard with heart symbol hologram

Her (2013): If You Created Her, Is It Real Love?

In this retrospective Mind Matters movie review, Adam Nieri ponders the questions raised by a thoughtful AI film

Unlike Catherine, Samantha is exactly what Theodore was looking for. No surprise there; Samantha is, literally, adjusted and updated according to Theodore’s preferences from when he initially began speaking to her. She exists only to be Theodore’s soulmate. Is that enough?

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Photo by Jeremy Bishop

AI Goes to Hollywood

Warner Bros. hopes Cinelytic's AI will save time while making more reasonable financial estimates, thus forestalling expensive box office blunders

Cinelytic’s AI does is what every AI does at its most basic level. It collects and sifts large amounts of data to find patterns that can be used to make predictions. AI excels at pattern recognition because that is its only purpose. Humans aren’t so linear or predictable.

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Lost in Space, A Mind Matters TV Series Review

I was skeptical at first, based on Netflix's track record, but was pleasantly surprised

If I could rewind time a week and add a piece of 2019 sci-fi to my list of the year’s Best and Worst Sci-Fi TV, I would add Netflix’s Lost in Space, Season 2—which came out just after I had published. Let's fix that now.

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