Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” is a stunning visual reminder of what our space program can achieve. Top image: Matt Damon in “The Martian” Trailer. Bottom image: 1989 painting by Les Bossinas/ NASA
The Martian movie was everything I had hoped for. Based on the book by the same name, this movie captured our fascination with space, our fears of space travel, and our ability to use reckless abandon (with some intelligence) to conquer these exact same fears.
Matt Damon does wonders as astronaut Mark Watney, a man thrown literally into the thrashing winds of a martian inferno, only to MacGyver his way to safety – i.e. science the shit out of everything – while singing disco tunes the entire way. Though ABBA beats and space survival might sound incongruous, they fit well together in this movie, just like humor and sorrow fit well together in everyday life. Unlike many other harrowing survival stories (think Gravity) that stretch the bounds of drama and belief, Mark Watney’s unrelenting motivation to fix things and just make it work, seems more true to reality. After all, Apollo 13 did happen, and despite what the conspiracy theorists say – man made it to the moon before the existence of graphing calculators, the internet, or next-day shipping. We’ve got it within us to do it again, singing all the way. (more…)
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 Machina‘s 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?