Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagScience fiction

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Fantasy landscape with fog, water and stone.

The Only Mad People In Dr. Strange’s Multiverse Are The Writers

We don’t know why Wanda has morphed into a villain or why good and evil have become morally equivalent

On our last delve into the Multiverse of Madness (2022), we followed Dr. Strange to Wanda Maximoff’s house. As the scene opens, it is clear that, controversially, Wanda has faced no repercussions for the events depicted in WandaVision. (2021). Tragically, Wanda has chosen to follow the words of the Dark hold — and those of us who watched WandaVision on Disney Plus will never get to see her struggle. So we don’t understand why she chose to listen to the words of the book. Nothing is accounted for. Wanda is just bad now, and we must accept it. Except — this is and isn’t true at the same time. On the one hand, the writers want us to understand that…

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Girl before a doors

Michael Egnor: If Evil Exists, So Must Good — and Real Choices!

In the podcast, he explains, denial of free will doesn’t mean that there is no guilt but rather that there is no innocence

In a podcast aired July 8, 2022, geoscientist Casey Luskin and neurosurgeon Michael Egnor explore “Evolution and the disturbing consequences of denying free will.” One consequence they look at is pre-crime, that is, treating people who are thought likely to commit an offence as if they had already done so. A partial transcript and notes follows. The podcast is here. Casey Luskin: In the previous podcast, Dr. Egnor, you mentioned how, once somebody denies free will, they really lose the ability to condemn any action that a human takes as morally evil. Everything we did in their view is determined by the forces of nature, and really nobody ought to be at fault for having done anything. These arguments have,…

Hacker Cyborg. Combination of robot and artificial intelligence

AI: The Potential and the Problems

Despite the hype regarding the seemingly infinite possibilities surrounding AI technology, artificial intelligence still has a number of humbling hurtles to overcome. Justin Bui and Samuel Haug join Robert J. Marks to discuss the latest developments in artificial intelligence.  Show Notes 00:00:56 | The Homunculus 00:04:09 | Introducing Justin Bui 00:06:54 | Fast AI 00:13:45 | Deepfake Technology 00:21:40 |…

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Exploration of new worlds, space and universe, new galaxies. Planets in backlight. Exoplanets. Solar systems. 3d rendering

Serenity: My Defense of the Film’s Initial Choices (Part 1)

Some viewers have complained that director Joss Whedon changed the characters’s behavior in the film vs. the TV series. I believe they are mistaken

I watched the movie Serenity (2005) long before I ever watched the series, and I fell in love it. Some people have complained that, because Joss Whedon couldn’t decide between writing the film for the fans of the preceding TV series Firefly or for a new audience, the movie was hard to follow. This was not my experience, although I didn’t know the backstory and thus didn’t understand the significance of some of the events of the film. But these events help explain why the movie Serenity never got its long-desired sequel. The movie opens with Simon rescuing his sister River from the lab where she was held captive. This event had actually been recorded by the security archives and…

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Magic Forest at Night under Fullmoon with Fireflies VR360

Firefly: What Worked, What Didn’t… and WHY Was It Cancelled?

When all is said and done, Firefly is one of those classic series that any sci-fi fan should watch

When everything is said and done, Firefly is an excellent series. So the question remains; why was it cancelled? Many opinions have been aired in the entertainment media. In my view, three major reasons stand out. Number 1: The Friday night death slot. That;s what they call it when a show targeted at a younger audience runs in that slot because that audience was usually not at home on Friday nights. So, when the show aired, there was nobody to watch it. Number 2: Bad marketing. It’s said that the promos advertised the series as more or less a zany comedy. While Firefly does have moments of levity, it is more of an action-adventure series. There are plenty of serious…

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set of alien planet isolated on black background, nearby exoplanets (3d science illustration)

Among 5000 Known Exoplanets, There Are Some Really Strange Ones

Planets so strange that they prompt a rethink of the “planetary rulebook.”

PBS tells us that Hoth, the frozen planet in Star Wars, is not just imagination. It has a real-life counterpart among the exoplanets. Granted, astronomers call it OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb but even they think of it as “Hoth.” Here’s the video. Such strange planets are prompting a rethink of the “planetary rulebook.” Another strange one: Narrator: 51 Pegasi b is a gas giant, around half the mass of Jupiter, but so close to its star that part of its atmosphere may have been ripped away… Hannah Wakeford: These planets are baked by their stars’ radiation, the temperatures are in the thousands. David Charbonneau: Many astronomers didn’t believe it, because the planet was in the wrong place. It was enormous. It was massive,…

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View on desert

Sci Fi Saturday: The Vixen! She’s Back! Firefly TV Heats Up

So why is Captain Mal sitting naked in a desert? We get to hear the story leading up to that

The opening scene features Captain Mal sitting naked in a desert. A caption advises us that we must go back to seventy-two hours earlier to understand how that happened. Mal, you see, meets an old buddy and shares hugs and swapS banter until the buddy informs him that he is married. Mal is excited to hear this wonderful news until he sees a familiar face — Saffron, the vixen who’d tricked him into believing she was his bride in a previous episode. She is now hitched to Mal’s pal; so imagine the poor sap’s shock when the Saffron and Mal draw guns on one another. After a brief squabble, the swindled husband leaves Saffron in Mal’s angry hands. To save…

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Still life with old-fashioned lamp, magic witch books, tarot cards and old papers. Mystic background with ritual esoteric objects, occult, fortune telling and halloween concept

Firefly Episode 5: So River Is Now a Witch? Part 2

Simon and River are captured because a town on the planet lacks a doctor. But then things take an occult turn…

As I mentioned in the first part of this review of Episode 5, we stumble through a series of contrivances to get Simon and River kidnapped. Mal and his crew continue to make baffling choices. They decide to leave Simon and River behind. Mal essentially says that they were stupid enough to get themselves caught, so they are on their own. This is baffling because Mal’s driving force is worry about his crew, and he’s long since made it clear that he considers Simon and River to be part of his crew. Because he was the one who had told them to take a hike, one would think that he’d feel some sort of responsibility for their predicament. But he…

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Fencer  with fencing sword. Fencers duel concept.

Firefly Episode 4: Mal Ends Up in a Swordfight Amid Outer Planets

It all starts when ship’s engineer Kaylee decides she wants to dress like a Southern belle…

In Episode 4 we open with the crew returning to the planet Persephone where the series began. While in the Market, Kaylee, the ship’s engineer, finds a dress that she particularly likes and Mal, who is growing impatient because he’s carrying something heavy, says there’s no way she could use such a dress because she’d look silly working on the ship in such a thing. Of course, this infuriates everyone, and they all leave in a huff. Now, what’s interesting about this scene is the world-building. The show really commits to the whole Western genre because the dresses remind one of the southern belle’s style or even something out of the Victorian Era — vintage garments that high society might…

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Laser Cannon Incapacitates Enemy Satellite In Space

Firefly Episode 3: Should Some People Be Left To Die?

After the space crew rescues the survivor of a pirate attack, Captain Mal faces off against The Shepherd on whether God can save even that man.

Episode 3 begins with a friendly game of basketball… or something like it. Simon, a doctor who has joined the Firefly crew, notes that there appear to be no rules to the game as he watches from the balcony. The game is interrupted by a “proximity alert” and the crew discovers a wrecked ship floating in space. The captain decides to check it out and they quickly discover that the ship has been attacked by the infamous Reavers. We’d seen their ship once in episode one, and we’d heard some ominous descriptions of what they do to their prisoners: “If they take the ship, they’ll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing. And,…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Business concept with a scared tiny man trapped inside a glass jar held by his gigantic boss hand. Surreal nightmare, helpless captive employee victim of abuse at work. Workplace bullying and conflict

Artificial General Intelligence: The Modern Homunculus

A homunculus is a little person created in a test tube. There was a time when some of the most prominent scientists in the world believed they could create miniature life in the lab. But while the search for homunculus has long since ended, there are some who believe they can find a similar kind of life through artificial general…