April 2015 archive

‘Blade Runner’ vs. ‘Ex Machina’: Testing the Human Conscience (spoiler alert!)

Rachael from 'Blade Runner' and Ava from 'Ex Machina'.  Together they embody two visions for artificial intelligence.

Rachael from ‘Blade Runner’ and Ava from ‘Ex Machina’. Together they embody two visions for artificial intelligence.

The bold, sexually aware female AI, the protagonist who risks his life on a crisis of conscience, and the amoral but brilliant scientist-turned-creator. Alex Garland’s Ex Machina borrows the visions of Blade Runner, but turns the narrative on its head. While the Replicants in Blade Runner strove towards some semblance to man (and man’s longevity), Ex Machinas robots strive for freedom beyond man. The robot becomes the inquisitor and the human a mere puppet. As the movie unfolds, Ex Machina is not afraid to question our preconceived notions about sentience and morality, and in the process, explicitly divorce the two.

The Turing Test Meets An Inquisitive Mind

Near the beginning of Ex Machina, Caleb posits a question about consciousness. If a computer is programmed to play chess, it might be able to play the game well. But does the computer know that it is playing chess, or even what a game is?

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SciFi Mixed Links – April 28, 2015

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Zeplins and Akerataeli Dance in the Clouds: Rise of Endymion

Zeplins Dance in the Cloud World of Dan Simmon's Rise of Endymion. SciFiMix Original Art.

Aliens Dance in a Cloud World, inspired by the Zeplins of Dan Simmons’ ‘Rise of Endymion’. SciFiMix Original Art.

Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos describes the wonder of Zeplins – large floating creatures that inhabit the atmosphere of Jovian gas giants.  These translucent, cuttlefish-like aliens hover in the air like blimps, while their skins shimmer and reflect the ever-changing colors of the clouds (and storms) around them. Never feeling the need to rest on land, the Zeplins constantly propel themselves forward in the sky, by expanding and collapsing their delicate tentacles. Similar to whales, the slowly feed by straining particles in the air. Zeplins are larger than whales, however, having leviathan-esque proportions. (more…)

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Sci Fi Mixed Links – April 21, 2015

Screenshot from the book cover of 'A Wrinkle in Time' by Madeleine L'Engle.  The Wall Street Journal recently published three pages from an early draft of the novel.

Screenshot from the book cover of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ by Madeleine L’Engle. The Wall Street Journal recently published three pages from an early draft of the novel.

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Today in Space History – Apollo 13 Returns Home

Following an explosion in the command module, the Apollo 13 crew used bravery, ingenuity, plastic wrap and duct tape to safely return home. Image source: NASA

Following an explosion in the command module, the Apollo 13 crew used bravery, ingenuity, plastic wrap and duct tape to safely return home. Image source: NASA

Happy 45th anniversary to a safe landing.  Check out the NASA Mission page, Time article, and Wikipedia page.

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Stargates – 2001: A Space Odyssey to Big Hero 6

SciFiMix Stargate Mashup, featuring images from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stargate SG-1, Star Trek, and Big Hero 6.

SciFiMix Stargate Mashup, featuring stills from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stargate SG-1, Star Trek, and Big Hero 6.

The “star gate” sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey reimagined deep space travel. Stanley Kubrick operated outside the cramped confines of rocket ships and the lonely vast expanses of outer space, and envisioned psychedelic trips through hyperspace – long voyages condensed by the folding of space and time. Now the term “stargate” or “jumpgate” is a common device in science fiction narratives, standing for advanced tech portals that open wormholes, hyperspace tunnels, or new dimensions. These stargates allow faster-than-light travel to other worlds.  (more…)

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