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CategoryArts & Culture

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The runway of a rural small airfield against a blue sky

Third Kind Is a Unique Kind of Sci-Fi Film

Director Yorgos Zois helps us to interpret others’ real-life experiences through the sci-fi genre

This week I’ve got another Sci-Fi Saturday short for you. Although not much is currently going on in the big world of sci-fi (though there is always something going on), there never seems to be a dull drum when it comes to short films. Although not a brand new release, Third Kind (2018, 32 min) by Yorgos Zois is interesting, unique, and thought-provoking in several ways. First, let’s talk about interesting. While I would gladly say that most short films I watch are interesting, the slow burn of Third Kind makes it more interesting than most. As three archeologists visit a long since abandoned earth (we’re not really told what time the archeologists are from), they search for a mysterious Read More ›

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Round robot's eye

Exclusive!: John Lennox Answers Our Questions About AI in 2084

In his new book, 2084, the Oxford mathematician doubts that AI, now or then, will out-think humans. Our real worry is how they will be used. Read More ›
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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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Blue glowing multiverse in space

Is Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Right re the Multiverse?

Sheldon Cooper insists that in no universe would he dance with Penny

A collection of universes is called a multiverse. If there are enough universes in a multiverse, can almost anything happen? No. Common models of the universe aren’t big enough. The argument that anything can happen in a multiverse is nicely presented in a 2011 scene in the sitcom The Big Bang Theory (2007–2019) involving consummate nerd Sheldon Cooper and Penny, the girl next door (here). Penny: Morning, Sheldon! Come dance with me! Sheldon: No. Penny: Why not? Sheldon: While I subscribe to the Many Worlds theory, which posits the existence of an infinite number of Sheldons in an infinite number of universes, I assure you that in none of them I am dancing. Penny: Are you fun in any of Read More ›

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Free-range red angus cattle on pasture, Argentina.

No Free Will Means No Justice

Materialist biologist Jerry Coyne doesn’t seem to understand what denying free will would mean for the criminal justice system

Without free will, no one is innocent. Who asks cattle on the way to the abattoir if they are guilty or innocent?

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abstract circle fractal background

Hulu’s Devs Series: Where They Get Determinism Wrong

Devs disposes of a key limitation of computers that can supposedly predict the future with psychobabble

Call me a nitpicker: As a computer engineer, I must say, computers cannot predict the future.

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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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couple of two seniors or mature people walking in the airport going to their gate and take their flight wearing medical mask to prevent virus like coronavirus or covid-19 - carrying luggage or trolley

Ten Ways COVID-19 Will Change Your Next Air Trip

You’ll still get there but it definitely won’t be half the fun

On board, the plane will be cleaner but also leaner. Expect to wear a mask and snack before you go.

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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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Retro Robot plays with wooden ABC cubes on floore. 3D rendering. Education scientist robot student

Ruling: AIs Can’t Hold Patents

The US Patent Office has ruled that only "natural persons" can own patents, not machines

An issue left untouched is whether AI can, in principle, be creative in any event. There is no real evidence for that. The big worry, perhaps, is not being replaced by one’s tools but being ruled by them.

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The Creative Brain

Is There a Creativity Module in the Brain?

Both hemispheres are important for creativity, according to recent research, but the adventure lies beyond

What we are really learning is that minute mapping of the brain is not likely to give us a complete explanation of creativity. Let alone a means of control. Answers, when they appear, lie in the immaterial world of the mind.

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Digital mind

Why Our Minds Can’t Really Be Uploaded to Computers

The basic problem is that human minds aren’t “computable.” Peter and Jane are not bits and bytes

The underlying problem with creating immortality by uploading our minds to computers is that people are conscious and even the most sophisticated foreseeable computers are not. And we are not at all sure what consciousness even IS.

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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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Robot and human cooperating in jigsaw puzzle

Thinking Machines? Has the Lovelace Test Been Passed?

Surprising results do not equate to creativity. Is there such a thing as machine creativity?

The feats of machines like AlphaGo are due to superior computational power, not to creativity at originating new ideas. Computer scientist Selmer Bringsjord sees the ability to write, say, a novel of ideas as a more realistic test of human vs. computer achievement.

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The poetry of Love

Thinking Machines? The Lovelace Test Raises the Stakes

The Turing test has had a free ride in science media for far too long, says an AI expert

In the view of Rensselaer philosopher and computer scientist Selmer Bringsjord, the iconic Turing test for human-like intelligence in computers is inadequate and easily gamed. Merely sounding enough like a human to fool people does not establish human-like intelligence. He proposes the much more challenging Lovelace test, based on an observation from computer pioneer Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) that true creativity is what distinguishes humans from machines.

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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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