Strange Adventures: a film list
Presenting the list I mentioned earlier in which I highlight a number of worthwhile science-fiction films (also some TV productions) that aren’t the usual Hollywood fare. I’ve spent the past few years watching many of these while searching for more. This isn’t a definitive collection, and it isn’t filled with favourites; I’ve deliberately omitted a number of popular films that would count as such. It’s more a map of my generic tastes, and an answer to a question that isn’t always spoken aloud in discussions I’ve had about SF films but which remains implicit: “Okay, if you dislike all this stuff then what do you like?” I tend to like marginal things, hybrids, edge cases, the tangential, the unusual and the experimental.
Just the stills make for interesting browsing.
Modern Retro Computer Terminals
The goal for this project is to design, 3D-print and assemble the enclosures for several small desktop computers.
I went to see a movie, and instead I saw the future
This is the future, I’m afraid. A future that plans on everything going right so no one has to think about what happens when things go wrong. Because computers don’t make mistakes. An automated future where no one actually knows how things work.
Welcome to the age of the avatar
Zombie Miles And Napa Weekends: How A Week With Chauffeurs Showed The Major Flaw In Our Self-Driving Car Future
A few years ago, Mustapha Harb realized there was a problem in his field of research about how autonomous cars will change the way people travel. The solution to the problem he settled on was as simple as it was revealing.
Using 13 volunteers (a very small sample size due to budgetary constraints) from the San Francisco Bay Area who owned cars, Harb and his team studied their travel patterns using GPS trackers on their cars and phones for one week, then gave them a chauffeur for a week who would drive the participants’ personal vehicles for them. Finally, the researchers observed the subjects for a final week to look for any changes returning to their chauffeur-less life.
Advanced Nuclear Power
The basic idea of a nuclear reactor is really simple. In fact, you could make a toy to explain it to kids.
How to Face the End of Civilization . . . Again
Civilized people love predicting the end of civilization as we know it.
Contemporary science fiction often feels fixated on a sort of pessimism that peers into the world of tomorrow and sees the apocalypse looming more often than not. At a time when simply reading the news is an exercise in exhaustion, anxiety, and fear, it’s no surprise that so many of our tales about the future are dark amplifications of the greatest terrors of the present. But now more than ever, we also need the reverse: stories that inspire hope.
That’s why, starting on January 14th, we’ll be publishing Better Worlds: 10 original fiction stories, five animated adaptations, and five audio adaptations by a diverse roster of science fiction authors who take a more optimistic view of what lies ahead in ways both large and small, fantastical and everyday.
you have been removed for inauthentic behavior
is the last thing you hear when the robots come for you
Exploring the Future Beyond Cyberpunk’s Neon and Noir
Which microgenres are bubbling up, and which trends and themes best describe how creators are imagining the future? Here are nine suggestions.
After the robot uprising was put down, we hunted down the programmers.
Q: Why Do Keynote Speakers Keep Suggesting That Improving Security Is Possible?
A: Because Keynote Speakers Make Bad Life Decisions and Are Poor Role Models
Some people enter the technology industry to build newer, more exciting kinds of technology as quickly as possible. My keynote will savage these people and will burn important professional bridges, likely forcing me to join a monastery or another penance-focused organization. In my keynote, I will explain why the proliferation of ubiquitous technology is good in the same sense that ubiquitous Venus weather would be good, i.e., not good at all.
We state as an axiom that cybersecurity and the future of humanity are now conjoined, and that that conjoining makes the scope of a full analysis of the situation too broad and too subtle for an essay as short as this one.
If a dependence creates a risk, then logic tells us to either forego the dependence or mitigate the risk.
University of Miami Professor Earl Wiener proposed a set of laws that include “every device creates its own opportunity for human error,” “exotic devices create exotic problems,” and “digital devices tune out small errors while creating opportunities for large errors.”
Pretty long broad ranging essay, but an easy read.
Why the Culture Wins: An Appreciation of Iain M. Banks
Compared to the other “visionary” writers working at the time – William Gibson, Neal Stephenson – Banks is underappreciated. This is because Gibson and Stephenson in certain ways anticipated the evolution of technology, and considered what the world would look like as transformed by “cyberspace.” Both were crucial in helping us to understand that the real technological revolution occurring in our society was not mechanical, but involved the collection, transmission and processing of information.
Banks, by contrast, imagined a future transformed by the evolution of culture first and foremost, and by technology only secondarily. His insights were, I would contend, more profound. But they are less well appreciated, because the dynamics of culture surround us so completely, and inform our understanding of the world so entirely, that we struggle to find a perspective from which we can observe the long-term trends.
What happens when culture becomes freed from all functional constraints? It seems clear that, in the interplanetary competition that develops, the culture that emerges will be the most virulent, or the most contagious. In other words, “the Culture” will simply be that which is best at reproducing itself, by appealing to the sensibilities and tastes of humanoid life-forms.
Quantum computing in the NISQ era and beyond
“Intermediate scale” refers to computers with between 50 and a few hundred qubits. The 50 qubit milestone is significant because that takes us beyond what we can simulate by brute force using the most powerful existing supercomputers. “Noisy” emphasises that we’ll have imperfect control over those qubits. Because of the noise, we expect a limit of about 1000 gates in a circuit – i.e., 1000 fundamental two-qubit operations. Executing a single gate is about 1000 times slower on an ion trap quantum processor than on a superconducting circuit.
Regarding the near future potential of quantum computers.
For a look at the past, Shor’s Algorithm: https://blog.acolyer.org/2018/02/02/polynomial-time-algorithms-for-prime-factorization-and-discrete-logarithms-on-a-quantum-computer/
Predicting the future is hard
The Victorian view is that we would have robots as such, but these were depicted as controlled automaton. The predictions didn’t appreciate the concept of AI or computer control, so all drawings show complicated remote control mechanisms; still with human operators. Compounding this is the missed concept of radio. All the automaton devices are shown connect to their controller with complex mechanic linkages or wires. The whole concept of wireless communication was missed.
A 1920s prediction of the pocket telephone
When will it ring???
Gold Fault Laser
It involves installing a gold-plated laser somewhere deep in the San Andreas Fault to extract geothermal energy from the landscape. Think of it as a kind of gonzo version of the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth.
The press release, from architect Mark Foster Gage, is a great example of a solipsistic inventor’s imagination at full blast—featuring “geothermal resonance technologies,” nano-gold foil-wrapped laser components, an “experimental phenolic cured resin foam,” and so on.
Amazon Go debuts, and its prying cameras foil our shoplifting attempts
When I entered, I immediately noticed two things. This is a totally average, clean-looking convenience store, measuring roughly 1,800 square feet and containing a reasonable variety of “everything for everyone” food and drink. Additionally, there’s a John Connor nightmare looming in the ceiling.