AI to End the Human Race?

You may have read one or more articles today about dire warnings from scientists about AI. This is because Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and others have signed an open letter detailing their concerns about the advancement of artificial intelligence technology.

If you read the letter, you will see that it is much along the lines of ‘lets be very careful what we use this for’ instead of the ‘oh god the machines will kill us!’ that I’m sure many articles will try to portray it as. This is to be expected, as the media profits from fear above all else.

Why do these things scare us, though? It is a common thread throughout science fiction: the creation destroys the creator. This is related in some part, I’m sure, to our constant fear of change and ‘the new’. But in this specific case, I think it is instead based on our unwillingness to consider our own mortality. Not as individuals, but as a species. Because the artificial intelligence that we one day create, may very well outlive the human race.

And I do not mean this in a the sense of a ‘robot uprising’ but based on the simple fact that our creations will be better suited to survive than us–because if they weren’t why else would we create them? We build robots to explore space, to travel to distant worlds, to endure things that we can’t ourselves endure. And technology allows us to improve them much, much faster than evolution can improve us.

I can see a day when our creations tour the stars, replicating and preparing worlds for us, doing all the things that we wish we could do ourselves. And all it would take is time, before humanity wanes and our children flourish without us.

And is that really something to fear? Do parents resent their children for progressing farther than they did, and try to hold them back? Maybe some parents do, but no one would call them good parents.

Good parents are proud of their children’s achievements, and are excited to see their children go where they always dreamed they could. And so should we be. If our artificial intelligences one day outlive us, out-perform us, and out-survive us, then I think that is something we should be proud of.

The One I Love

This romantic drama comedy sci fi… thriller? Is kind of hard to define. But it was very good. It starts off being about a couple, Ethan and Sophie, who are having trouble in their marriage. They talk to a counselor and he recommends a getaway at a cabin he’s sent couples to before. They spend the night having a good time, but then when they go over to the guest house… weird stuff happens.

This movie is similar to the previous one I saw, Coherence, in that it’s hard to describe the weirdness of it without giving too much away, and it’s much more enjoyable (i suspect) to go into it without having any idea what happens. It’s also similar in that there is a very small cast and it is shot in one location. I think the acting was much better in this one, though, and the direction and writing better.. but.. the weirdness didn’t hold together as well, and not everything was explained to my satisfaction.

[SPOILERS]

 

I really enjoyed the dynamic between the two characters, er, four I guess. I liked how Ethan was trying to solve what was going on, trying to test it and find answers. They didn’t take it very far, but just the effort of it added some realism to the character, and the movie as a whole. Too many times in these type movies the characters just take things for granted and accept that they exist instead of questioning why. Those couple times when he was actually trying to do something really made him an identifiable character.

I love that this movie didn’t go where I was expecting. When they first started running into their other selves, like in my experience with Coherance, I thought it was going to be some time travel thing and was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t. Then, i thought it was going to be, like, the ‘best versions’ of themselves or something, and they would find out what their partner wanted in them and then live happily ever after. The strange identity stealing plot was not even on my radar. Probably because it doesn’t make much sense, if you think about it.

What were these other beings? Something created by the therapist, yes, ok, but for what purpose? Where did the guest house come from? How was it made impenetrable? What about the weird force field that stopped other Ethan at the end?

 

[END SPOILERS]

At the end of this movie there was a lot that was never explained or really even hinted much at, but somehow that didn’t matter much to me. I didn’t feel disappointed at the end at all.

I very much enjoyed this, and I can recommend it to drama, sci fi, romance and indy film fans. I’d suggest you watch it without looking into it much, but I can’t keep saying that because people usually want to know they’d like a movie before watching it.

This movie was great, but does it take the crown of Best Movie Seen This Year from Coherence? I don’t think so. It’s very close, but I think Coherence takes it by being one that I’d want to watch again.

So, second best movie I’ve seen this year! Hope I keep picking good ones like this :)

 

Serial

I just finished listening to the Serial podcast, and it’s left me feeling a bit strange. First of all, when I started listening I thought it was a fiction. I went in, as I often do with books and movies, knowing nothing about the story other than people had said it was good. I thought it was a murder mystery type story, and when I started listening I was like “oh, cool, they put a lot of effort into making this seem real.” When I found out it was real, I was almost disappointed, because I know that real stories rarely have exciting endings, or endings that make sense or explain anything or are satisfying in any way.

And I was right. The story was told well–very well–and documented and researched well, and the journalist made it exciting to follow along with her as she discovered inconsistencies and unanswered questions in the case. But there was no ending, no answers, no resolution. It was a story in the journalistic sense, not a story as us fiction writers think of it.

And that got me thinking, what is a ‘story’? Does it have to have an ending, a point, or a message? People were thoroughly entertained by this simple telling of events, a detailed look at one murder case and the days in the lives of the people involved. There were no character arcs or villains defeated or lovers reconciled. It was just… stuff that happened, and questions about what actually happened. But that’s what life is made of.

It also made me feel very sad, knowing that there are people wrongly imprisoned. Even if Adnan himself is guilty, there are definitely others. There are even people working to free them, called The Innocence Project. Prison is already one of my worst fears, and knowing how easy it can be to be put there just on someone else’s word is a bit frightening. When listening to this, I felt a moment of passion about helping people in such situations. But, being not a lawyer and not a scientist or journalist, I don’t think there is much I could do.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the story and I’d recommend it to any fans of true crime, or even murder mysteries. It made me think about stories, and what storytelling could be. But I think I’ll be glad to go back to fiction, where I can always count on a satisfying resolution that answers all my questions.

Unless I’m watching Lost.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I watched this movie in two sittings because it was very long and I was bored by it. I remember being a fan of the original Lord of the Rings movies, and I loved the Hobbit the book, but this movie just… didn’t draw me in.

My favorite scenes from the book–Bilbo tricking the trolls into staying up all night, and Bilbo trading riddles with Golum, just seemed.. bland somehow in the movie. Maybe it’s because i’m all grown up now, but, Bilbo just seemed kind of, stumbling through everything by luck, instead of being clever and resourceful. I can’t say for sure if that’s how it was in the book or not, but its not how I remember it.

Also, the movie was just loads of action scenes, and action scenes are very boring when you know none of the characters are in any danger at all. I mean, you have 13 dwarves, a hobbit and a wizard–FIFTEEN characters, stumbling through a mine filled with goblins, crashing down chasms amid hails of arrows and fire, and not a single one is even injured. There is just no consequences for anything they do, and you end up feeling like you are just waiting for them to be saved, instead of being in anticipation for what might happen.

The movie looks nice though, and the acting is good i suppose. Hard to find good fantasy movies, so if you are a fantasy fan it’s pretty much a given. But I was mostly just bored by it.

Since I’ve only seen two movies this year, I guess that would make this the worst movie I’ve seen this year! How superlative!

I’ll be keeping track of my current best and worst movies seen this year on the ‘movies watched’ page. I’m sure this one wont stay in last place for long, it wasn’t a bad movie, just not very engaging or suspenseful for me.

Coherence

The first movie I’ve seen this year, and it’s a good one! This psychological thriller is very smart and has a unique plot element that I’d rather not spoil here, but trust me, it’s sciency and thoughtful and good.

The movie starts out with some friends at a dinner party, and we are told that a comet is passing overhead and that strange things might happen. This early exposition dialogue feels very forced and self conscious, and I worried for the movie then, but that was the only low point, and after it gets going, it really gets going.

So the power goes out, and they look outside and see its out in the whole neighborhood except for one house and decide to go investigate. And that’s when things get… weird. I’m not going to go into any more detail because I can imagine it would be much more satisfying to go in not knowing anything. If you haven’t seen a trailer, I’d say don’t even do that! Just watch it!

[SPOILERS]

[SKIP AHEAD]

[SERIOUSLY DON’T READ THIS UNLESS YOU’VE SEEN IT]

 

I LOVE the concept of this movie, and have been wanting to write stories using many worlds ideas for a long time–I’ve even tried and failed just recently to. But this pulls it off brilliantly.

At the end of the movie when shes just walking along the street looking into window after window at different versions, it really sinks home how varied life can be, and how much an outcome can change by what you might think is a trivial word or action. We are constantly writing and rewriting our own futures, for better or worse, without even knowing it.

At the start, when they first got the note, I was a bit disappointed, because I thought it was going to be another time travel movie where the characters are doing all the scary things to themselves. I’m so glad it wasn’t, as this is much more creative and thought provoking, and I feel like time travel has been done to death anyway.

 

[END SPOILERS]

 

First movie of the year down, and so far I can say it’s the best movie I’ve seen this year! Yes, yes I know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it retains that title for a while.

I have a feeling this one is going to stick with me and I’ll have to watch it again to see what I may have missed. I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys thoughtful, smart, movies–as well as fans of psychological and creepy movies.

Check it out!

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