Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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android robot thinking in office

One Day the Door to the Robot’s Shop Opens – Sci-fi Saturday

Roy, the robot, is suddenly confronted by another robot, determined to kill or die

“Roy” at DUST (July 23, 2021, 7:44 min) Roy is a sci-fi drama short film about a robot mechanic holed away in a rundown barn, living in a world of rustic antiques melded with futuristic sensibilities. He is a man forgotten by society and spends his days tinkering at projects. That is until someone opens the door into his shop. Roy is a story about compassion in the face of those affected by violence and despair. It explores the themes of how we relate to strangers and friends around us who have become bitter and jaded by the world. Roy poses this question: how do we face those transformed by violence and angry at the world? Review: This film won…

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business and investment strategy analytics, financial simulation model

When a Simulated World Begins To Fall Apart — Sci-fi Saturday

Marie has reason to expect trouble when the simulator who explains reality to her cannot get her name right…

“Untitled Earth Sim 64” at DUST by Jonathan Wilhelmsson (September 10, 2021, 6:11) Marie is an offbeat woman who suspects that all is not right with the world. After experiencing various glitches in reality, she is called upon by a mysterious being that accidentally lets slip that her universe is a simulation. Marie’s life quickly unravels at this revelation, as she desperately looks for meaning in an untitled simulation. Review: This sci-fi comedy has won a number of awards and it is easy to see why. It is fast-paced and raises many interesting issues. When Marie (Karen Olrich-White) attempts to explain to her friend (Alexandra Frick) that she has learned from a mysterious voice (James Fraser) — amid a series…

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Robot hand pressing computer keyboard enter

English Prof: You’ll Get Used To Machine Writing — and Like It!

Yohei Igarashi argues that seamless machine writing is an outcome of the fact that most of what humans actually write is highly predictable

English professor Yohei Igarashi, author of The Connected Condition: Romanticism and the Dream of Communication (2019), contends that writing can mostly be automated because most of it is predictable: Instances of automated journalism (sports news and financial reports, for example) are on the rise, while explanations of the benefits from insurance companies and marketing copy likewise rely on machine-writing technology. We can imagine a near future where machines play an even larger part in highly conventional kinds of writing, but also a more creative role in imaginative genres (novels, poems, plays), even computer code itself. Yohei Igarashi, “The cliché writes back” at Aeon (September 9, 2021) Currently, humans’ ability to guess whether it is machine writing, he says, is only…

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Motion Blur Stretcher Gurney Patient Hospital Emergency

When the AI Call Center Can’t Handle Crises —Sci-Fi Saturday

It’s not clear whether this is a bug or a feature but it is certainly something that could happen.

“Lifeline” at DUST by Harry Jackson (September 6, 2021, 7:57 min) Jess, and her trial for a job at a high-tech call centre. When her competitor suddenly collapses, her only means to save him is a state of the art computer system. The problem is, the art is in a terrible state. Review: It’s a very good story. It illustrates the huge problem that any electronics-run system faces: Problems that only human intelligence can resolve. Gwyneth Keyworth, as Jess, sees that her co-worker Nathan Bryon is apparently collapsing at his desk. But she cannot call an ambulance because the high-tech call center does not allow that option. It’s not entirely clear why Jess does not use a private cell number…

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Demonic eyes

Ancient Philosopher: There Might Be Life Forms Not Bound to Earth

Surprisingly, a philosopher may have thought of it first over 2500 years ago

Wade Roush, author of Extraterrestrials, discusses the views of Anaximander (c. 610—546 B.C.E.) Anaximander, a philosopher who lived in Miletus in modern-day Turkey, contributed one key idea. He was the first to propose that Earth is a body floating in an infinite void, held up by nothing. For someone who lived 2,200 years before Isaac Newton, this was a stunning insight. The philosopher Karl Popper called it “one of the boldest, most revolutionary, and most portentous ideas in the whole history of human thought.” Anaximander also thought Earth was a cylinder with the continents arrayed on one flat end, so he wasn’t right about everything. But he did invent the idea of space, a place with no absolute up or…

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Mystical dark blue foggy forest with snowflakes.

If You Met Someone in a Dream Every Night… ? Sci-Fi Saturday

In a sci-fi short, a paramedic must confront a question about the nature of reality

“Time is a Place” (2017) by Tim Nackashi (uploaded at DUST November 24, 2018, 7:08 min) Two strangers, a woman and a man, are haunted by a recurring dream they seem to share night after night. Their illusory time together in the dream is more freeing than anything in waking life. She has not told him that in reality, she is a paramedic who discovered his unconscious body at the scene of an accident. Review: The film started out as a mess. It was unclear whether the characters are dead or alive — but, under the circumstances, that must matter. It remains unclear until the very end. But the basic idea is, in principle, intriguing: What if two people share…

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Exoplanets with moon

Could “Rogue Planets” Hold the Key to Extraterrestrial Life?

A new paper asks us to think about the possibilities of planets that have been kicked out of a predictable orbit.

A new paper asks us to think about the possibilities of planets that have been kicked out of a predictable orbit: In a new paper, Alberto Fairén from the Center of Astrobiology in Madrid, Spain, and I look into the possibility that planets wandering through interstellar space could also host life. These “rogue” planets may have been ejected out of their original solar system during the early, chaotic phase of planetary formation. There are two general types of rogue planets: gas giants like Saturn and Neptune, and rocky Earthlike planets. While the chances for life on gas giants is extremely remote, rocky migrating planets could in principle host microbial life. To do that, they would need internal heat from the…

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Full moon on desert mountain peaks at sand storm

When the Robot Discovers Nature — Sci-Fi Saturday

On a ruined planet, a dog robot get caught in a time warp

“Genesis” (2020) at DUST May 2, 2021 Constantin Kormann(4:00 min, animated) Our protagonist lands on a foreign planet, finds an alien artifact and travels back into a time, where the planet was covered by a lush forest. Review: The “protagonist” is actually a dog robot who finds itself trapped in a time warp. The big question would, of course, be — why go back to techno-civilization, especially if you are just a dog anyway? Cute. But what happens when the battery runs out? Curiously, we think we should make robots like the animals we know. Think of Boston Dynamics’s controversial police “dogs.” Nature seems to have thought of everything first — an argument, if you like, for intelligent design. Anyway,…

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Oumuamua is a mildly active comet, and the first interstellar object detected passing through the Solar System.

What Space Object ‘Oumuamua Says About How Science Works

The space object, thought by at least one famed astronomer to be an ET lightsail, prompts thoughts about how scientists decide what to believe

The subtitle of Matthew Bothwell’s wrap-up on ‘Oumuamua is most informative: An alien-made artefact or just interstellar debris? What ʻOumuamua says about how science works when data is scarce. At least one astronomer, Harvard’s Avi Loeb, insisted that ‘Oumuamua must be an “extraterrestrial light sail.” And few suggested that that couldn’t possibly be true. Right. What do we do when we are not sure? Bothwell, author of the forthcoming Invisible Universe, offers some thoughts. W all imagine ET in our own image: Victorians of the late 19th century, living in the era of ambitious engineering, looked at Mars and saw globe-spanning canals – evidence, they believed, of a grand industrial civilisation mirroring their own. In the Cold War 1960s, as…

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Agentur

It’s AI Art — But Is That Really Art?

Much depends on the claque that agrees that it IS art

There are reports that AI has created wonderful music and great paintings. But who judges whether a creation is or isn’t art? 19th century writer Margaret Wolfe Hungerford claimed that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”1 So any analysis of AI art or music will be subjective. One person’s modern art masterpiece can be viewed by others as like a child’s finger painting. The same is true for music. The delightful chaos of Charles Ives music is interpreted by some as noise. The value of all art can cannot be quantized but, indeed, “is in the eye of the beholder.” The degree to which art is held in high regard can be emotionally manipulated. A great example is…

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Picture of a young man having an asthma attack

How Much Can Will Power Do Against Nature? – Sci-fi Saturday

Despite his career-ending disability, Aaron — as an alternative to accepting life as a bystander — is trying to use his skills to take down a gunrunning gang

“Outcast” (2020) at DUST by Royce Adkins (August 16, 2021, 12:29 min) A former super soldier with chronic asthma fights to prove his worth. Review: The film opens with a gritty scene in a hospital where a veteran medic (Rod Emelle) tells a veteran soldier (Aaron) that if he doesn’t start using his asthma meds right, they will kill him quicker than his respiratory problems. Not too many spoilers, one hopes, but despite his career-ending disability, Aaron — as an alternative to accepting life as a bystander — is trying to use his skills to take down a gunrunning gang. His friend Imara (Gail Bean) is wants to dissuade him from the role of lone wolf lawman. As the story…

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Green sprouts on blurred city background, environmental concept

It’s 2075! Our Motto: “Ignorance is Bliss” — Sci-fi Saturday

This animated short asks us to consider a future world in which information is reduced to a sort of haze

“Kernel” at DUST by Olly Skillman-Wilson (August 25, 2021, 5:12 min, animated) The world has become a place where information is tightly filtered and controlled, expelled into the air like a thick smog. Leonard Paisley is an ageing neurobotanist, his life work to preserve the knowledge of the past in his biome. When some equipment malfunctions his commitment is tested. Review: It’s 2075 AD and freedom of the press is not even remembered. Against a background of futuristic skyscrapers, a billboard advises us, “Not Knowing Is a Virtue.” Another that “Ignorance Is Bliss.” And “‘Tis Folly To Be Wise” Well, at least they are not telling us to Love Big Brother Or Else. Except for the fact that the landscape…

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Time is running out concept shows clock that is dissolving away into little particles. Black and white wall clock

A Cruel Experiment Plays With Three Lives: Sci-fi Saturday

Rational thought offers no contest, in this minimalist film, to the will to survive or at least get revenge in death

“2-Bullet Solution” at DUST by Matt Mullins and Chris Naylor (July 26, 2021, 3:32 min) 3 Test Subjects, 2 Bullets, 1 Solution Review: It’s a philosophical dilemma of sorts. Three people, two men and a woman, are experimentally trapped in a chamber slowly filling with a fatal gas. They have two minutes, three guns and two bullets. The survivor will be released. This cast list (presumably in order of appearance) gives a sense of utter minimalism, in that they don’t really have names: Stretch – Caitlin HutsonBeard – Andrew DiBartolomeoEdge – Kosey BaskinVoice – Christina RoseHandler – Matt Baxter Discouragingly, no one discusses options like using the bullets to break a lock. The fight scene (over the bullets) seems unrealistic;…

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Smart car (HUD) , Autonomous self-driving mode vehicle on metro city road iot concept with graphic sensor radar signal system and internet sensor connect.

Machine World at Its Most Nihilist — Sci-fi Saturday

This very short animated cyberpunk thriller portrays a world of autonomous vehicles where faces are very rare

“Autonomous” (2020) uploaded at DUST by Joe Sill (June 24, 2021, 4:38 min) Animated. An animated cyberpunk thriller centered around a motorcycle gang of traffickers in a world of autonomous vehicles.Yuri and her brother Nyx face off against the Metro Task Force as they transport an important package to a client. Review: This animated (very) shortfilm sketches drug dealing in Detroit in a world of autonomous vehicles. It’s a mad rush on motorcycles to a pier amid sealed robocars, pursued by cops who are not clearly human. It’s certainly a scary and inhuman world. The story ends, as so many real-life ones do, with a tragic waste of life. But there seems no point to it really. “Autonomous” seems to…

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Crashed Satellite Flying Toward The Earth

A Space Mission to Infinity — Sci-fi Saturday

After the space station module crash, the astronaut finds himself befriended by a friendly but mysterious neighbor. Who is he really?

“Flotando” (2018), uploaded at DUST by director Frankie De Leonardis (August 20, 2021, 7:55): A Russian astronaut awakes on a space station module after a crash. Space debris has left the module severely damaged and isolated. As the astronaut tries to reconnect to the base strange noises turn his attention to the outside. The knocks become closer until a strange character emerges. He’s come to welcome the astronaut. Puzzled, scared, and believing everything to be a hallucination the astronaut tries to focus on his communication efforts, but the character decides to open the hatch and let himself in. The story is about realizing and accepting with a sci-fi tone and a surreal twist. Review: The film is a touch surreal.…

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Eextraterrestrial aliens spaceship fly above surreal terrain

Data Analyst Offers 15 Reasons Extraterrestrials Aren’t Seen

He estimates that there should be 100,000 civilizations in our galaxy

Data analyst Yung Lin Ma offers fifteen reasons, including some new to us. He begins by observing, There are about 1 billion stars that can produce an environment similar to the Earth. The environment of the earth does not necessarily have life, and this ratio is lower than 1 in 10,000. The reasoning is that at least in our galaxy, there should be 100,000 civilizations. Then why haven’t we seen even any single one civilization? Yung Lin Ma, “15 Reasons Why We Can’t See Aliens” at Medium (July 14, 2020) So, it’s an active question. Of his fifteen reasons, here are three: 3. Extraterrestrial life does exist, and has visited the earth. It was just a long time ago. Later,…

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Close up Cockroach on white a bowl

If Roaches Formed a Miniature Civilization… Sci-fi Saturday

The roaches have built a rocket, intending to go to the moon, and their activity wakes up a dormant human

“Rocket Roaches” (2019) at DUST by Mick Mahler (August 13, 2021, 9:44 min) When the diligent cockroaches build a rocket to fly to the moon, they accidentally wake up one of the last humans from his virtual dreams. Review: The roaches, who have an advanced miniature civilization, are, of course, animated. They play their parts alongside the human character (Cedric Sprick) whom they have awakened. He is fascinated by their behavior, which is very like that of humans. Then he looks around at all the living but motionless humans totally absorbed in virtual reality while the cockroaches have built a rocket and are trying to get to the moon. If humans have abandoned the job of being the smartest life…

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Asteroid Meteor Rock Flying Toward Planet EarthRealitic Cinematic vision of earth and large meteor Asteroid Comet- Outer space view

Asteroid Bennu’s Chances of Hitting Earth Slightly Increased

New calculations based on data from asteroid probe Osiris Rex refine the data and raise the chances by a slight amount — enough for good science fiction

For those who enjoy worry: Due to improved measuring technology, researchers are reporting a slightly increased chance of asteroid Bennu hitting Earth in the by 2300: Specifically, there is one chance in 2700 of Bennu hitting us on September 24, 2182 (0.037%): Along with an asteroid called 1950 DA, Bennu ranks as the most hazardous known asteroid in the Solar System. Its orbital trajectory and period of around 1.2 years means that there are multiple close approaches to Earth in the coming centuries that are near enough for a possible impact. Michelle Starr, “This Giant, Hazardous Asteroid Almost Certainly Won’t Hit Us, Probably, NASA Says” at ScienceAlert (August 12, 2021) Here’s a tour of our possible dreaded visitor courtesy asteroid…

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Life and death

Android Asks, Is Immortality Truly a Benefit? — Sci-fi Saturday

He argues that he can never appreciate life if he knows he can never die

“Extent” (2018) at DUST by Paul Michael Draper (August 9, 2021, 12:43 min) Time stands still as two old friends attempt to grapple with a question that defines their very existence. If you could live forever, would you? Review: Edward, the greatest inventor has invented many things, including his friend Alexander. But he comes to think everything is futile because he faces oblivion at death. Meanwhile, android Alexander wants Edward to enable him to “cherish moments” and to be able to long for a “tomorrow that may never come” — which, in the context, means he wants mortality. Alexander reflects, “I think about what my forever may be, It haunts me” and later “Pleasure and pain are no longer relevant…

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Close up portrait of nuclear post-apocalypse survivor, living underground mutant or creature, skilled stalker wearing rags and armored full-face gas mask or air breathing apparatus, toned shoot

Merv Is the Last Man in a Ruined World — Sci-fi Saturday

He’s been alone so long that the thought of another human being panics him

“Merv” (2013) by Steven Woller and Matt Inns (August 11, 2021 at DUST, 13:05 min) After the end of the world, Merv’s life in the lonely wastes is comfortably boring until an unexpected signal heralds the coming of a stranger. Review: This New Zealand-based film company provides a haunting evocation of a totally ruined urban landscape — just an enormous pile of rubble peopled by a surviving hermit. When he catches sight of another human, he pelts like mad for his underground den. Then, arming himself, sets out to confront the stranger. Steven Woller, also one of the producers, does a good job as Merv, who has been alone so long that it seems like the only natural state for…