Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryArts & Culture

red-pill-blue-pill-concept-the-right-choice-the-concept-of-the-movie-matrix-the-choice-of-tablets-stockpack-adobe-stock
Red Pill Blue Pill concept. The right choice the concept of the movie matrix. The choice of tablets

The Matrix Trilogy: Some Final Thoughts

I enjoyed the films and am looking forward to the Matrix Resurrections but there are some things I need to say as a reviewer

While waiting for The Matrix: Resurrections, December 22: I admit, I’ve given this trilogy a hard time. But I do actually enjoy the films… when I’m not thinking about them. There are some good elements, and I want to point those out before going further. First of all, the relationship between Neo and Trinity is solid. It develops with the trilogy and we don’t have to suffer through a bunch of “will they?/won’t they?” tropes. A viewer can get invested in their relationship, so it hurts when Trinity dies. I appreciate any film where this risk is taken, instead of breaking up the characters and then getting them back together just so the writers don’t have to show the relationship’s…

twisted-clock-face-time-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Twisted clock face. Time concept

The Central Mystery of the Universe Is Time

Physicists assume everything is reversible in principle — yet time isn’t. Why not?

Physicist Paul Davies unpacks it, so far as anyone can: Physicists first got to grips with the problem of the arrow of time in the middle of the nineteenth century by considering the behavior of gas molecules rushing around and colliding. Imagine a box of gas with a barrier down the middle. Suppose the gas on the left is hotter than on the right. If the barrier is removed, the faster-moving molecules on the left collide with the slower ones on the right, redistributing the energy. Soon the gas reaches a uniform temperature, a condition known as thermodynamic equilibrium. This process is irreversible. You never see the opposite happening. Without external interference, heat always flows from hot to cold. It’s…

social-media-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock
social media concept

What If Social Media Thinks for You? — Sci-fi Saturday

We get a good chance to find out in a short sci-fi about a couple on a date

“Vessel” at DUST by Ethan Godel (November 29, 2021, 8:14 min) Thomas and Lucy are on a date. It’s going well. Really well. The chemistry is palpable – there is never a dull moment, never a lull in conversation. These two seem perfect for each other. Thomas waxes poetic on T.S. Elliot’s prose, Lucy recites her favourite stanzas… They are the envy of every couple in the restaurant. But if these jealous couples just looked a little closer, beyond the big words and fancy clothes, they would find something very peculiar. Unbeknownst to each other and other restaurant patrons, Thomas and Lucy each sport a discreet earpiece. And, through their respective earpieces, these “passionate” and “soulful” “lovers’’ are being told…

many-falling-translucent-multicolored-dices-with-white-dots-on-black-background-stockpack-adobe-stock
many falling translucent  multicolored  dices with white dots on black background

The Matrix Revolutions Churns Into a Cosmic Drama

It turns out to be a conflict between chaos and probability with no apparent moral compass

In preparation for when The Matrix: Resurrections drops, December 22, I’ve been reviewing the Matrix trilogy (1999–2003) that provides a foundation (links below). Last time out, I offered a map of what happened in The Matrix: Revolutions, the third film in the trilogy. Now for the details from that film: There is one important scene that must be mentioned before Neo is rescued from digital purgatory. While searching for Neo, Morpheus and Trinity visit the Oracle, and we get some much-needed exposition concerning her relationship to the Matrix. The Oracle turns out to be — more or less — an avatar for chaos, or variables, and the Architect, is an avatar for order, or probability. So, the movie balances its…

turing's machine
Turing machine close-up

Did Alan Turing’s Change of Heart Set AI on the Wrong Path?

Erik Larson, author of The Myth of Artificial Intelligence, thinks Turing lost track of one really important way minds differ from machines

In the earlier part of this episode of “Hyping Artificial Intelligence Hinders Innovation” (podcast episode 163), Andrew McDiarmid interviewed Erik J. Larson, author of The Myth of Artificial Intelligence (Harvard University Press, 2021) discussed the big switch in computer science, roughly around 2000, from deductive to inductive logic — because Big Data made inductive logic more productive. Now they look at what machines still can’t do: This portion begins at about 12:39 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Andrew McDiarmid: I found some of your podcasts on the web and in one of them you say, “I don’t know what a mind is, but I know what a machine is.” So how does that…

time-travel-machine-surreal-steampunk-technology-stockpack-adobe-stock
Time travel machine. Surreal steampunk technology

Are We Tethered To Our Time Despite Time Travel?— Sci-fi Saturday

A very short film about a girl on a mission to save her mother raises a profound philosophical question

“Tethers” (2021) at DUST by Matthew Steele Finley (uploaded at DUST November 24, 2021, 5:22 min) A woman travels in time to save another woman’s life but the risk could be far reaching for her own reality. Review: “Don’t kill your mother or anything,” the time travel technician (Larry Herring) warns Anna (Abigail Williams), as she prepares to travel back to prevent a tragedy set maybe thirty years ago in an upper middle class home. Not too many spoilers but Anna must attempt to persuade her future mother Rachel (Alicia Kelley) not to marry her father — a man whom she knows (the way the future knows the past) is not good for her mother. Sshe shows her mom the…

modern-cyber-woman-with-matrix-eye-stockpack-adobe-stock
Modern cyber woman with matrix eye

The Matrix Revolutions (2003) Spins Out of Control

In Part I of this review of the third film in The Matrix trilogy — anticipating The Matrix: Resurrections (December 22) — we bring you up to date on the story

Recently, I’ve been reviewing — and reminiscing, if you like — The Matrix (1999) and The Matrix Reloaded (2003). After all, The Matrix: Resurrections opens December 22. Although I find the plots disjointed so far, I can at least provide you with a cheat sheet for what happened earlier. Now let’s see what happens in the third film in the turn-of-the-millennium trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions (2003). Alas, the confusion continues. The movie opens with our lead characters discovering that Neo is not in a coma after all but has been taken to a zone between the Matrix and the real world; think digital purgatory. How does this happen? We don’t know. How can Neo be taken anywhere when he’s not…

Shuai_Peng_(14253482739)

#WhereIsPengShuai: China’s Star Tennis Player Went Missing

Peng re-appeared after two weeks, but her disappearance sparked a global outcry against human rights violations under the Chinese Communist Party

On November 2, two-time tennis doubles champion, singles semifinalist, and three-time Olympian Peng Shuai posted on her Weibo account an essay accusing the former vice premier of China, Zhang Gaoli, of rape and coercion. They had an on-and-off relationship that began ten years ago and, reportedly, had a fight several days before her post. (A partial translation of her post can be found here.) In 2014 Peng was the number one tennis doubles champion, having won two Grand Slams, and has toured with the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). She has also appeared in three Olympics for China. Zhang is a retired vice premier of the highest governing body in China, the Politburo Standing Committee, and unlike other government officials who have…

a-free-living-dung-beetle-sits-in-the-forest-stockpack-adobe-stock
A free-living dung beetle sits in the forest

When Your Oppressors Are Giant Beetles — Sci-fi Saturday

“Résistance” (2016, animated) by Alex Chauvet et al. (uploaded at DUST November 19, 2021, 6:36 min) Dominated by an Insect’s totalitarian regime, the staff of a restaurant organizes a plot to knock down the established order. Review: Picture a very upper crust French restaurant staffed by humans, whose patrons are giant beetles with temperaments to match. The beetles are very well executed. The sight of the beetles guzzling mini glasses of champagne is not one to miss, so it’s not surprising the film clocked over 150k viewers in fewer than ten days. But yes, the humans are unhappy with all the grossness. They are plotting in the kitchen. And it doesn’t help that one of the drunken beetles starts pawing…

military-robot-and-skulls-of-people-dramatic-apocalypse-super-realistic-concept-rise-of-the-machines-dark-future-3d-rendering-stockpack-adobe-stock
military robot and skulls of people. Dramatic apocalypse super realistic concept. Rise of the Machines. Dark future. 3d rendering.

The Matrix Reloaded (2003) Just Did Not Load Properly

Although the second part of the Matrix trilogy offers interesting ideas and exciting action, the confusing plot obscures the concepts it should explore

What a mess of a story is The Matrix Reloaded (2003) — the second part of the Matrix (1999) trilogy, in which the world we know turns out to be a simulation created by AI intelligences. We met some of the characters in the first part, The Matrix (1999), reviewed here. But then what happened? First, we’re introduced to the new technician, Link, but no one explains where his predecessor Tank went. Then Zion (“the last human city, the only place we have left”) is introduced and there we find ourselves at the infamous Party Scene: To look at this techno-hedonistic rave, one might think we’ve entered volcano-challenged Pompeii of long ago. But this party is more reminiscent of the…

medical-technology-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock
Medical technology concept

The (Virtual) Doctor Will See You Now — Sci-fi Saturday

A lonely middle-aged man experiences a future where medicine works correctly but the human dimension has ceased to exist

“Instant Doctor” (2020) by Diogo Gameiro (uploaded at DUST , 6:25 min) Did you ever wonder what will the future of health-care hold? How will advances in medical A.I. change our lives? Will algorithms eclipse doctors entirely? We hope not. Instant Doctor is a short film to show appreciation for doctors and health-care human workers everywhere. Review: In a futuristic subway station surrounded by the latest tech, gadgets, and gizmos, a middle-aged man (Fernando Alves Pinto) is all alone, suffering a troublesome respiratory problem. The last train is leaving in eight minutes but he decides to goes into a digital instant AI doctor cubicle — surreally represented. In an interesting detail, he pays digitally in bitcoins. Not to spoil too…

red-pill-blue-pill-concept-the-right-choice-the-concept-of-the-movie-matrix-the-choice-of-tablets-stockpack-adobe-stock
Red Pill Blue Pill concept. The right choice the concept of the movie matrix. The choice of tablets

Will The Matrix Resurrections (Drops December 22) Break the Mold?

The culturally influential trilogy (control by evil aliens) enjoys a fascinating beginning — but a thud! ending

The Matrix trilogy is famous for starting strong, then falling apart by the end. Will this happen again? We’ll see. After eleven years, the Matrix Resurrections comes out December 22, 2021. Now is the perfect time to look back at the original trilogy, starting with the first film, The Matrix (1999). The Matrix series begins by following a computer hacker named Neo, who is led by a beautiful stranger into a forbidding underworld. There, “he discovers the shocking truth — the life he knows is the elaborate deception of an evil cyber-intelligence.” He had been searching for the mysterious Morpheus who defends a human civilization from attack by machines. Neo is horrified to discover from him that not only is…

young-cute-girl-hipster-sitting-at-a-cafe-holding-a-smart-phone-answering-texts-phone-calls-letters-posts-photos-in-instagram-outdoor-portrait-close-up-elaborated-and-bracelets-on-the-hands-stockpack-adobe-stock
young cute girl hipster, sitting at a cafe holding a smart phone, answering texts, phone calls, letters, posts photos in instagram, outdoor portrait, close up, elaborated and bracelets on the hands

I’ve Been on Facebook for 13 Years. Here’s Why I’m Leaving Now.

Has Facebook actually improved the ways we connect with each other? And does Meta have a chance to improve upon that?

When I first joined Facebook in 2008, it was primarily a way to remain in contact with my dad while he was deployed overseas for a year. As I went through school, and then graduated and moved across the country for college, it became a way for me to connect with new and old friends. Now, thirteen years later, I am looking at deleting my Facebook. Here’s why: Last month, Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made waves when he announced the creation of a parent company over Facebook called “Meta.” The basic idea is what Zuckerberg calls “the next frontier” of the internet – a virtual reality in which people can engage in connection and creativity with one another.…

multimedia-video-concept-on-tv-set-in-dark-room-stockpack-adobe-stock
Multimedia video concept on TV set in dark room

Culture Watch: “This is Us” Recognizes Limits of Machines

Let's hope that this becomes a trend of popular culture dealing with the realities of technology and its limitations

Most people do not recognize the inherent limitations of machines and algorithms. This is true even more in popular culture, which seems to be fixated on a narrative of machines becoming sentient and taking over. However, in a recent episode of the popular TV show “This is Us,” the limitations of computer algorithms came to the forefront, with the show not only recognizing the outlines, but getting the details correct. You might wonder why a TV drama is getting involved in the technical details of a discussion on the limits of computation. “This is Us” is a TV show which emphasizes the connections between generations — how the altruism and selfishness as well as the accomplishments and failures of each…

life-support-still

When Oxygen Becomes the Most Precious Commodity — Sci-fi Saturday

This sci-fi riff on what where atmospheric pollution could lead us offers beautiful renderings of abandoned advanced civilizations, housed in caves

“Life support” at DUST by Saleh Jamsheer (at DUST November 12, 2021, 6:02 min, animated) A seeker finds himself distressed by his dependencies and is constantly searching for a way to survive without his life support. Review: The story is set in an age of atmosphere meltdown. Space-suited humans live in caves and, when things go wrong with their air supply, they are rescued by aerial drones. Favorite line from rescue drone: “Would it be a bad time to say I told you so?” (Shaykha Sayyar as N.O.V.A. and Voice of Authority) Um, yes, N.O.V.A. Now please ask us a challenging question. The central character, 178 (Saleh Jamsheer), finds himself in the ruins of a civilization started by drone hybrids…

time-travel-machine-surreal-steampunk-technology-stockpack-adobe-stock
Time travel machine. Surreal steampunk technology

Can a Man Go Back and Fix His Past? — Sci-Fi Saturday

It turns out that the old man calling from 2120 doesn’t just want to give his younger self advice; he wants to change the past to prevent tragedy

“Hey, it’s me” (2020) at DUST by Mark Sposato & Courtney Sposato (October 11, 2021), 11:11 min. A selfish man tries to alter his destiny when he receives an ominous phone call from his future self. Review: Year 2120 and a sick and unhappy old man (Cedric Cannon) wants to go back and talk to his past self (RJ Brown). The past self, in 2030, is young and swinging and already has the neon telephone that can do that — as he shows his “date.” And then the phone rings and it’s his old man. That is, himself as a sick old man (120 years old)… And he has only seven minutes with him. No more spoilers. The story revolves…

man-and-woman-playing-game-using-virtual-reality-headset-and-gamepads-in-the-dark-room-of-the-playing-club-stockpack-adobe-stock
Man and woman playing game using virtual reality headset and gamepads in the dark room of the playing club

In a Futurist Game, Inmost Thoughts Are Real — Sci-fi Saturday

When a family plays the game, long-simmering hostilities surface as acts

“My House” (2020) at DUST by Alexander Edep (Oct 25, 2021, 9:53 min) A family game night turns ugly when a protective mother, desperate to keep her turn in the game a secret, is forced to commit a heinous act that holds a troubling, family-shattering secret. Review: Don’t watch this one to relax. It features a futurist game played by members of a family (a couple with a teenage boy and girl). In it, just about any family circumstance can be simulated — and is. The telling touch is that the event that is simulated is just what one could see happening, apart from law, religion, civilization, and, inevitably — what the neighbors would think? The game feels like unconscious…

arizona-desert-ladscape-stockpack-adobe-stock
Arizona Desert Ladscape

The Wild West Seen From Another Cosmos — Sci-Fi Saturday

Jane Montana must rescue a hostage from three villains. But is Montana what she seems?

“Cosmo” at DUST by Thomas Thomas (October 29, 2021, 6:58) Jane Montana, a rough and tough law-woman, is in a pickle. A gang of outlaws led by a man named Buford has kidnapped a helpless damsel. Worse, Jane has two bullets and three bad guys to confront. Review: A Wild West scenario is not usually mixed with sci fi but this short gets the Wild West atmosphere right. Montana (La Trice Harper) and the hostage Gwen (Kaylin Zeren) look very Western and the bad guys — Buford (Jeremy John Wells), Slick (Andrew Stroud), and Bart (Tony Nunes) — are straight out of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly tradition. At least one commenter felt that “Cosmo” wasn’t really sci…

sci-fi-scene-of-the-creature-machine-invading-city-digital-art-style-illustration-painting-stockpack-adobe-stock
sci-fi scene of the creature machine invading city, digital art style, illustration painting

Worst Case: AI Robots Invade to “Help” Us — Sci-fi Saturday

A well-meaning AI attempts to “rescue” an impressionable child from the coming wipeout of humanity

“Cera” (2021 ) at DUST by John Robinson Irwin (October 20, 2021, 7:33 min) An 11-year old girl’s loyalty to her parents is tested after an attack by her caregiver hints to a greater violent upheaval beyond their rural surroundings. Review: The story opens with Hailey (Cali DiCapo)and her father John (Jason Isaacs) finding her mother Maria (Maria-Elena Laas) stabbed, though not dead. Minimal dialogue does a good job at filling us in on an, at first, nameless horror without breaking the suspense. Thus, we sense that “Cera” is an intelligent caregiver but not a human being and that the child’s devotion to her could be fatal or… It gets creepier from there. Minimal spoilers but it’s not clear, in…

illustration-of-spiral-arrangement-in-nature-golden-ratio-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock
Illustration of spiral arrangement in nature.  Golden Ratio concept

New film: C.S. Lewis as a staunch defender of the mind’s reality

Lewis started out thinking that “the findings of science have concluded that human reason” resulted merely from “natural selection with random mutations… to confer upon humans a reproductive advantage.”

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to spend an evening with famed writer C. S. Lewis, now’s your chance. On November 3, theaters around the United States and Canada will premiere a film titled The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C.S. Lewis, and it may be the next best thing to meeting the real Lewis, who died in 1963. Adapted from a one-man stage show by New York actor Max McLean, The Most Reluctant Convert portrays Lewis’s intellectual journey from scientific materialism to idealism to theism to Christianity. It’s a cerebral and “talky” film, but that doesn’t mean it’s slow or boring. Clocking in at just 73 minutes, the film moves briskly and includes plenty of emotion and humor.  (This…