Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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Ghost town in fog

Landing Back on Earth as the Sole Inhabitant — Sci-fi Saturday

Unless we count the cat

“Origin” at DUST by David Parrella (Jun 17, 2021), 12:24 min) An astronaut from an interstellar colony returns to Earth to determine why they lost contact. Review: The production values here are good but the plot is quite confusing. The heroic sacrifice never results in information as to the cause of the loss of contact. Trying not to introduce spoilers here but: Any outfit that could found an interstellar colony should be onto glitches like the one on which the story’s crisis turns. Also, as one commenter put it, “too many plotholes.” For example, why does the car even start and where does the gasoline come from? How did the cat survive? If the cat survived, why isn’t everything else…

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Total population control concept with CCTV videocam and small figures of people

A One-Girl War With the Total Surveillance State —Sci-fi Saturday

The acting, ambience, and special effects in “Bolero” are top quality

“Boléro” at DUST by Sarah Gross (June 13, 2021, 17:24) In a future where telepaths are used by the government to monitor the public and root out insurgents, Maya, a non-speaking teen, witnesses her father’s brutal and unjust execution. Set on a path of revenge and destruction, Maya joins the Resistance, hellbent on tracking down Reader 8, the telepath responsible for her father’s death. However, when Maya finally locates her target after years of searching, she is confronted with a choice: either capture Reader 8 and deliver essential intelligence to the Resistance or take him out and fulfill her vengeful quest. Review: “Boléro” debuted at IMDB in 2019 and has deservedly won some industry awards. The acting, ambience, and special…

book threads
book

Books: The First Step in Fighting Cancel Culture

Malicious envy was always out there but before social media it could rarely assemble so large a mob
Many writers and artists are beginning to speak out and take action, recognizing that sharing the cost of speaking up reduces its burden. Read More ›
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blinded slaves in the water

Books: Cancel Culture As an Invisible Army of Censors

The new censorship is different from traditional “banned” or “challenged” lists because a younger, much more active crowd is behind it

For authors, Cancel Culture, powered by social media, is becoming a serious business. A poorly thought-out tweet from years past — or merely one to which socially powerful people take exception — may destroy a career. The mob has hit genre fiction hard. One author, studying the trend, recounts, Since March, I have been sending discreet messages to authors of young adult fiction. I approached 24 people, in several countries, all writing in English. In total, 15 authors replied, of whom 11 agreed to talk to me, either by email or on the phone. Two subsequently withdrew, in one case following professional advice. Two have received death threats and five would only talk if I concealed their identity. This is…

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Science fiction illustration of a battle cruiser spaceship travelling faster than the speed of light in hyperspace, 3d digitally rendered illustration

What If a Loved One Aged Much Faster Than You? – Sci-fi Saturday

It’s one of the implications of faster-than-light travel

“ARK” at DUST by Nelson Cruz (June 8, 2021, 8:19 min) “Captain Mira Bernhard is finally home after a lengthy mission to the new planet, GAIA – humanity’s last hope. But what’s only been a 5-year trip for her, has been 45-year wait for her husband.” Review: ARK debuted in 2020. Time, we are told, is running out for Earth. The radio announcer, informing the audience of Bernhard’s ship’s arrival, also announces that this will be the final week of broadcasts. We are told that Bernhard’s husband Peter (played by Patrick Gorman) does not know what to expect. But, of course, he really does. And he faces a big decision: Should he just free her (Sheila Cutchlow) to return to…

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AI・人工知能

Could You Be Reconstructed From Your Memories? – Sci-fi Saturday

If you were, would destroying the digitized “you” be murder?

“The Final Moments of Karl Brant” at DUST by Neil Ellice and Matthew Wilson (June 10, 2021 at DUST, 15:46 min) “Set in the near future where experimental technology allows two detectives to bring a murder victim back to life in a digital state in order to question him about his final moments.” Review: This is an “oldie” from 2013, recently uploaded to DUST. Entrepreneur Karl Brant and academic neuroscientist Bennett Ferryman were partners in a promising new high tech venture in which Brant suddenly perishes, leaving Ferryman now the sole owner — and under interrogation down at the local cop shop: “Am I a suspect?” “Not if you give us a good reason why you shouldn’t be.” Not too…

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astronomy, bright, constellation

A Wrinkle In Time: Reading Science Fiction At An Early Age

An early introduction to science fiction will be a boon to any child's imagination

When I was young, my father was constantly pressing new books into my hands. The first in remembrance was C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The second to stand out was Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time. It was a funny choice, really. My father’s theology does not match L’Engle’s universalism, nor are his preferred subjects math and science. At the time, I was unable to wrap my mind around concepts of dimension and time introduced by L’Engle, but the novel became a fast favorite that I have returned to in my adulthood. A Wrinkle In Time was most recently brought back into popular view when an adaptation imagined by director Ava DuVernay was released in theaters…

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They Knows.

“Are We Alone?” Asks a New Sci-Fi Short. But Then Why?

In “Laniakea,” we are introduced to a civilization’s – museum? Or what is it? An intriguing Sci-fi Saturday

“Laniakea” at DUST by Dima Taran (November 13, 2020, 5:48 min, animated) “The action takes place in the future, when superluminal speeds allow for travel to any point in the universe. People are hoping to find extraterrestrial life, but as of yet no one has succeeding in finding anything. One day, a lonely man finds a message in a monolith that has been drifting in space. It helps him to find a portal that leads to the home planet of those who made the monolith. He finds a giant structure, a building. But …This place is breathing on its own. Where has everyone gone?” Review: Good graphics and animation, in the service of a sobering point. The aliens could have…

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white and black table clock

If It’s Real, It Must Be Endured. – Sci-Fi Saturday

“It’s Okay?”, using futurist technology, takes a woman back through her time with someone she loves.

“It’s Okay” at DUST by Justin Giddings and Ryan Welsh (June 3, 2021, 8:47 min) In this Black Mirror-esque tale, a couple revisit key moments of their past, only for their memories to take an unexpected turn. … Cam and Alex are a simple couple living an un-extraordinary life, when strange things suddenly start happening to them. Will they uncover the truth before they lose one other? Review: This is a remarkably well done short film. The directors are in control of their plot. If you don’t entirely understand what is happening at first, you will later. And that’s no easy task when the very proposition of the story involves bending time. The human mind is structured to understand time…

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technology and socialism

“AI is fastest path to Communism,” says Elon Musk’s partner

In a viral TikTok video, the singer/songwriter said AI will lead us to a world of leisure and no work

Social media was aflood yesterday with confusion and intrigue when Grimes – a Canadian singer/songwriter and 3-year partner to technological entrepreneur Elon Musk – said that “AI is actually the fastest path to communism” and encouraged communists to embrace the technology if they want to see their political dreams come true. Grimes (born Claire Elise Boucher) posted a short video to TikTok on Thursday, proposing that artificial intelligence could lead us to a utopia in which no one has to work and everyone lives in leisure: “I have a proposition for the communists. So, typically most of the communists I know are not big fans of AI. But if you think about it, AI is actually the fastest path to…

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Full moon in a black night sky

Sixty Billion Stars. And No Aliens? What Now?

Are we approaching a crisis of faith in ET?

At Universe Today, Matt Williams asks if it is time to update the Drake Equation, by which you could settle — in your own mind — how likely the aliens are. It began to be developed nearly sixty years ago at a conference at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia. And everyone took for granted that we would be hearing from the aliens soon. That was the basis of Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) — keeping the hope alive. Rather than being an actual means for quantifying the number of intelligent species in our galaxy, the purpose of the equation was meant to frame the discussion on SETI. In addition to encapsulating the challenges facing scientists,…

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3d rendered medically accurate illustration of a grey alien holding the earth

When the Human Race Is Down to Its Final Offer … Sci-fi Saturday

The downbeat human lawyer and the alien corporate lawyer in Final Offer achieve artful comedy by the too-little used technique of witty dialogue, NOT gags

“Final Offer” at DUST by Mark Slutsky (July 19, 2018, 11:23 min) “A down-on-his-luck lawyer awakes in a doorless room to find he’s been selected to negotiate on behalf of the human race.” Review: Henry, a lawyer accustomed to late night barhopping, wakes up in a strange boardroom: “Henry, you have been selected to represent your species in what is almost surely the biggest trade agreement in the history of your planet.” “My planet?” Well, it’s science fiction. The corporate lawyer (Anna Hopkins) announces that her client — an alien the very sight of which causes our hero (Aaron Abrams) to retch — wishes to “acquire” Earth’s oceans. Or appropriate them if a few minutes of negotiations don’t work for…

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Image catastrophe on Earth

What Would the Ruins of “Eden” Be Like?: Sci-fi Saturday

Scavenging for artifacts on a ruined planet, a space drifter comes across the ruins of a high-tech civilization

“Eden” (2018) at DUST (May 20, 2021) by Kristian Bakstad, 11:51 min: “Deep in the recesses of space, a lone scavenger hunts for a valuable artifact on a desolate planet. When he discovers an abandoned facility, he ventures inside hoping for his big payday; but instead encounters a mad man and the remnants of a religious cult.” Review: This one got a lot of negative reviews but the studio has been around for a while, so let’s have another look. The lead character (Christoff Lundgren) is agreeably scuzzy, batting around in space. The opening portrays his lifestyle well: His tracking system detects something that might be evidence of a ruined advanced ET civilization to scavenge. He needs something he can…

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Divided young couple busy with their smartphones each

The (Magnetic) Force Is Strong With Apple — Here’s How to Resist

To keep the magnetic force in check between Big Tech and us, we must first establish who is boss over our technology

With the iPhone 12, Apple has introduced a new line of accessories that use magnetism to quickly attach and charge the phone. The company has used magnets for years to connect charging adapters and cases. Now they’re adding it to more products with the bet that iPhone users will find the lure of magnetic connection irresistible. As a natural phenomenon, magnetism is as old as dirt and yet it still amazes us when we see it in action. There’s another kind of magnetism at work here, too. It’s the pull of attraction between Apple’s devices and the people who use them. Like many longtime Apple customers, I have felt this attraction since 2008 when I purchased my first iPhone, the 3G.…

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Melting Watch

Sci-fi Saturday: In a Future Market, Time To Live Is Bought, Sold

An employee wants to rebel against the greed and injustice but then she would run out of time …

“The Bargain” at DUST by Eleonora Mignoli (May 18, 2021, 10:57 min) “Hired by a man who buys and sells time, a young bodyguard is torn between serving her master and fighting for the people he ruins with his power.” Cora is indentured in the service of Hue, the creator and owner of time-exchanging technology. She is alive thanks to Hue’s monthly “payments”: on her own, she’d have only a few weeks left. She works as his bodyguard and assistant, extracting or injecting time from his clients. She is horrified by Hue’s predatory deals, but complaining means breaching her contract. However, when a single mother of two falls victim to his extortion, Cora’s leash finally snaps. She now has to…

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Two ants. Conflict, ants fight. Conceptually - dialogue, conversation, meeting, showdown, difficult negotiations. Beautiful rainbow background. Ants large, raised abdomens

Sci-fi Saturday: What If Insects Could Put Humans on Trial?

In Science+, a shrunken inventor finds himself facing Ant Justice

“Science+” at DUST by Leela Varghese (February 28, 2021, 11:11 min) “When Matt accidentally shrinks himself and is captured by the ants whom he has unwittingly been squashing, he must find a way to escape their clutches and his impending death sentence.” Review: This is what good comedy looks like. Matt is filming himself doing various science projects for his (possibly) YouTube program “Science+”, when he gets shrunk by his own shrink-o-matic. The ants, seen face to face, turn out to be roughly like people, of whom — Matt discovers — he has killed nearly 3500. They learned English from humans in Britain but otherwise they speak Ant. You must hear that. And no more spoilers. The story raises some…

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Sci-fi Saturday: In “No Guarantee,” Brain Uploading Proves Costly

In a ruined mid-21st century Britain, a couple gains tickets to a virtual world — if their brains can be uploaded. But can they?

“No Guarantee” (2016) by Stuart Black and Nick Mather (at DUST, May 11, 2021) 5:22 min. A couple living in the ruins of London 2056 must decide whether they should upload their consciousnesses into the mysterious Cloud 9.” Fuller description: “London 2056 – the city is dying and those living in the smog-clogged ruins live by their wits. Those who can afford to opt out of the desperation upload their consciousnesses to Cloud 9. This is advertised as a one way ticket to virtual heaven – but can the Company who run it really be trusted? Virgil and Mary have different attitudes: she wants to go, he doesn’t. Can she persuade him to ‘ascend’ before he dies from terminal illness?…

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woman doing thumbs up positive gesture in shock face, looking skeptical and sarcastic, surprised with open mouth

Can the Machine Know You Are Just Being Sarcastic?

Researchers claim to have come up with an artificial intelligence program that can detect sarcasm on social media platforms

There’s an old joke about the bored engineering student slouched in the back of the Remedial English Grammar and Composition class. The instructor was lecturing on the use of negatives. In some languages, she explained, negatives can be piled on top of one another without changing the overall negative (“no”) meaning. But in English, adding two negatives together creates a positive. For example: “I am never going there again.” means just what it says (“never”). but “I am not ‘never going there again’” means that maybe you are going there again (“yes, if some changes are made”). The first negative negates the second. The teacher went on to say, “But there is no language in the world in which two…

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Aliens Invade

Sci-Fi Saturday: In Fenestra, the Aliens Land in a Domestic Drama

As the alien ships loom worldwide, the cheating boyfriend thinks he can just come back…

“Fenestra” (2020) at DUST by Jason Sheedy (May 13, 2021, 3:49 min) “A heartbroken woman must contend with a cheating boyfriend — and an incoming alien invasion.” Review: Okay. What if the aliens land just as a guy wants his woman to know that he is sorry for cheating on her after six faithful years. Of course, he counts on coming back to her amid the chaos. But maybe his stepping out was happening at just the right time for her… Who is she anyway? Erin Ownbey does a good job of looking pretty fed up and Brett Brooks of just not getting it. Impressive alien ships. “Fenestra” is under four minutes in length, which is handy if you would…

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A man likes a big paper box in the apartment. A emotional man fondle a big package in the empty room.

Sci-fi Saturday: Why You Do NOT Want To Duplicate Yourself

“The Unboxing Video” offers philosophy as well as dark comedy around the question of what being “oneself” means

“The Unboxing Video” (2019) at DUST by Scott Pickett (April 27, 2021, 12:07 min, film info here. Language warning.) Unboxing? “Unboxing is the act of documenting oneself, mostly on video, of opening a packaged product from a box and displaying, reviewing, and showing off its contents.” – Dictionary.com “One man attempts to make the greatest unboxing video in the world. Not an easy task as at every twist and turn he unknowingly reveals more about himself than anything else.” Review: James, a lonely man, decides to replicate himself via a body scan, a DNA swab, and a brain upload. He invites us to watch as he unpacks his boxed replicant, James 1.0. But when James turns the replicant on, he…