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Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Adam Nieri

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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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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The Expanse Still Image

Sci-Fi TV: 2019’s Best and Worst

2019 featured many sci-fi television and movies that were less sci-fi than political narrative

In 2019, I fell out with Netflix. I felt bombarded by more and more edgy content, as though Netflix wanted me to know how “adult” it is. Rather than producing a few amazing originals, Netflix started vomiting up a ton of terrible originals.

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Near Space photography - 20km above ground / real photo

The Expanse: A Mind Matters TV Series Review

The attention to detail and the realistic portrayal of space set it apart from run-of-the-mill sci-fi

I love the deep mystery surrounding the show’s central narrative device, the proto-molecule. It is somewhat sentient and is desperately trying to figure out what happened to the civilization that created it and was then wiped out while it lay dormant in our solar system for millions of years.

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the hypothetical planet nine in front of stars lit by the far away Sun

Nightflyers: A Mind Matters TV Series Review

Despite its flaws, Nightflyers does not deserve all the criticism it received.

It’s the saga of a ship of scientists making their way through the cosmos to unlock the secrets of a mysterious entity known as Volcryn. It turns out that Volcryn is not the only mystery; the Nightflyer holds many of its own secrets.

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Mobile phone addiction - Young man texting or looking at social media at night - insomnia, online obsession concept. Banner panorama.

The Feed: A Mind Matters TV Series Review

I started out thinking that the show was just the usual ho-hum tyrant-AI-takes-over flick and it is so good to be wrong!

Imagine a world where your mind is stored on social media. Now, what happens if someone steals, then abandons it. What will you do?

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How To Be Human: A Mind Matters Short Film Review

This new film turns a conventional sci-fi storytelling premise upside down

Most AI sci-fi chronicles the struggle of sentient artificially intelligent (AI) beings grappling with how to become human. That makes sense from the viewer’s perspective. If I firmly believed that our humble video game algorithms would evolve into thinking, feeling beings, then I would, of course, conclude that they would struggle as they grappled with their newfound humanity. But a recent DUST release, How To Be Human, takes that narrative—and turns it upside down. Rather than an AI struggling to become human in a human-dominated world, we watch a human struggling to be more like an artificial intelligence in an AI-dominated world. Kimi (one of the protagonists) undertakes a journey in which she sheds all those things that make her Read More ›

Group of people screaming in megaphones at scared guy

Terminator: Dark Fate—A Mind Matters Movie Review

Aside from the fact that it felt like a retextured version of Terminator 2, I was constantly being reminded of the film’s obvious political agenda

Movies like Terminator: Dark Fate don’t seem to be made by people who care about the narrative. They seem to think that they need only make something that looks like a movie but acts as a medium for broadcasting their message to the masses.

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The Outer Worlds—A Mind Matters Game Review

You must discover the dark secret of the Halcyon space colony, despite the greed and corruption of a handful of powerful corporations

After the raging dumpster fire that Fallout 76 (2018) turned out to be, I hesitated to invest my time and money in another role-playing game (RPG) epic. But I am glad I did.

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Will Plausible Robots Replace Movie Stars?

A short film prepares us to think about it

Do I believe AI will be emotionally indistinguishable from human connection? No, personally I don’t. Nonetheless, I loved the short film. It was simple but very well-executed. If you’re looking for a short but thought-provoking film about AI to give your mind something to chew on over the weekend, I would highly recommend Sprites.

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