Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagScience fiction

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android robot thinking in office

One Day the Door to the Robot’s Shop Opens – Sci-fi Saturday

Roy, the robot, is suddenly confronted by another robot, determined to kill or die

“Roy” at DUST (July 23, 2021, 7:44 min) Roy is a sci-fi drama short film about a robot mechanic holed away in a rundown barn, living in a world of rustic antiques melded with futuristic sensibilities. He is a man forgotten by society and spends his days tinkering at projects. That is until someone opens the door into his shop. Roy is a story about compassion in the face of those affected by violence and despair. It explores the themes of how we relate to strangers and friends around us who have become bitter and jaded by the world. Roy poses this question: how do we face those transformed by violence and angry at the world? Review: This film won…

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business and investment strategy analytics, financial simulation model

When a Simulated World Begins To Fall Apart — Sci-fi Saturday

Marie has reason to expect trouble when the simulator who explains reality to her cannot get her name right…

“Untitled Earth Sim 64” at DUST by Jonathan Wilhelmsson (September 10, 2021, 6:11) Marie is an offbeat woman who suspects that all is not right with the world. After experiencing various glitches in reality, she is called upon by a mysterious being that accidentally lets slip that her universe is a simulation. Marie’s life quickly unravels at this revelation, as she desperately looks for meaning in an untitled simulation. Review: This sci-fi comedy has won a number of awards and it is easy to see why. It is fast-paced and raises many interesting issues. When Marie (Karen Olrich-White) attempts to explain to her friend (Alexandra Frick) that she has learned from a mysterious voice (James Fraser) — amid a series…

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Full moon on desert mountain peaks at sand storm

When the Robot Discovers Nature — Sci-Fi Saturday

On a ruined planet, a dog robot get caught in a time warp

“Genesis” (2020) at DUST May 2, 2021 Constantin Kormann(4:00 min, animated) Our protagonist lands on a foreign planet, finds an alien artifact and travels back into a time, where the planet was covered by a lush forest. Review: The “protagonist” is actually a dog robot who finds itself trapped in a time warp. The big question would, of course, be — why go back to techno-civilization, especially if you are just a dog anyway? Cute. But what happens when the battery runs out? Curiously, we think we should make robots like the animals we know. Think of Boston Dynamics’s controversial police “dogs.” Nature seems to have thought of everything first — an argument, if you like, for intelligent design. Anyway,…

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Green sprouts on blurred city background, environmental concept

It’s 2075! Our Motto: “Ignorance is Bliss” — Sci-fi Saturday

This animated short asks us to consider a future world in which information is reduced to a sort of haze

“Kernel” at DUST by Olly Skillman-Wilson (August 25, 2021, 5:12 min, animated) The world has become a place where information is tightly filtered and controlled, expelled into the air like a thick smog. Leonard Paisley is an ageing neurobotanist, his life work to preserve the knowledge of the past in his biome. When some equipment malfunctions his commitment is tested. Review: It’s 2075 AD and freedom of the press is not even remembered. Against a background of futuristic skyscrapers, a billboard advises us, “Not Knowing Is a Virtue.” Another that “Ignorance Is Bliss.” And “‘Tis Folly To Be Wise” Well, at least they are not telling us to Love Big Brother Or Else. Except for the fact that the landscape…

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Time is running out concept shows clock that is dissolving away into little particles. Black and white wall clock

A Cruel Experiment Plays With Three Lives: Sci-fi Saturday

Rational thought offers no contest, in this minimalist film, to the will to survive or at least get revenge in death

“2-Bullet Solution” at DUST by Matt Mullins and Chris Naylor (July 26, 2021, 3:32 min) 3 Test Subjects, 2 Bullets, 1 Solution Review: It’s a philosophical dilemma of sorts. Three people, two men and a woman, are experimentally trapped in a chamber slowly filling with a fatal gas. They have two minutes, three guns and two bullets. The survivor will be released. This cast list (presumably in order of appearance) gives a sense of utter minimalism, in that they don’t really have names: Stretch – Caitlin HutsonBeard – Andrew DiBartolomeoEdge – Kosey BaskinVoice – Christina RoseHandler – Matt Baxter Discouragingly, no one discusses options like using the bullets to break a lock. The fight scene (over the bullets) seems unrealistic;…

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Smart car (HUD) , Autonomous self-driving mode vehicle on metro city road iot concept with graphic sensor radar signal system and internet sensor connect.

Machine World at Its Most Nihilist — Sci-fi Saturday

This very short animated cyberpunk thriller portrays a world of autonomous vehicles where faces are very rare

“Autonomous” (2020) uploaded at DUST by Joe Sill (June 24, 2021, 4:38 min) Animated. An animated cyberpunk thriller centered around a motorcycle gang of traffickers in a world of autonomous vehicles.Yuri and her brother Nyx face off against the Metro Task Force as they transport an important package to a client. Review: This animated (very) shortfilm sketches drug dealing in Detroit in a world of autonomous vehicles. It’s a mad rush on motorcycles to a pier amid sealed robocars, pursued by cops who are not clearly human. It’s certainly a scary and inhuman world. The story ends, as so many real-life ones do, with a tragic waste of life. But there seems no point to it really. “Autonomous” seems to…

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Crashed Satellite Flying Toward The Earth

A Space Mission to Infinity — Sci-fi Saturday

After the space station module crash, the astronaut finds himself befriended by a friendly but mysterious neighbor. Who is he really?

“Flotando” (2018), uploaded at DUST by director Frankie De Leonardis (August 20, 2021, 7:55): A Russian astronaut awakes on a space station module after a crash. Space debris has left the module severely damaged and isolated. As the astronaut tries to reconnect to the base strange noises turn his attention to the outside. The knocks become closer until a strange character emerges. He’s come to welcome the astronaut. Puzzled, scared, and believing everything to be a hallucination the astronaut tries to focus on his communication efforts, but the character decides to open the hatch and let himself in. The story is about realizing and accepting with a sci-fi tone and a surreal twist. Review: The film is a touch surreal.…

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Eextraterrestrial aliens spaceship fly above surreal terrain

Data Analyst Offers 15 Reasons Extraterrestrials Aren’t Seen

He estimates that there should be 100,000 civilizations in our galaxy

Data analyst Yung Lin Ma offers fifteen reasons, including some new to us. He begins by observing, There are about 1 billion stars that can produce an environment similar to the Earth. The environment of the earth does not necessarily have life, and this ratio is lower than 1 in 10,000. The reasoning is that at least in our galaxy, there should be 100,000 civilizations. Then why haven’t we seen even any single one civilization? Yung Lin Ma, “15 Reasons Why We Can’t See Aliens” at Medium (July 14, 2020) So, it’s an active question. Of his fifteen reasons, here are three: 3. Extraterrestrial life does exist, and has visited the earth. It was just a long time ago. Later,…

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Life and death

Android Asks, Is Immortality Truly a Benefit? — Sci-fi Saturday

He argues that he can never appreciate life if he knows he can never die

“Extent” (2018) at DUST by Paul Michael Draper (August 9, 2021, 12:43 min) Time stands still as two old friends attempt to grapple with a question that defines their very existence. If you could live forever, would you? Review: Edward, the greatest inventor has invented many things, including his friend Alexander. But he comes to think everything is futile because he faces oblivion at death. Meanwhile, android Alexander wants Edward to enable him to “cherish moments” and to be able to long for a “tomorrow that may never come” — which, in the context, means he wants mortality. Alexander reflects, “I think about what my forever may be, It haunts me” and later “Pleasure and pain are no longer relevant…

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Close up portrait of nuclear post-apocalypse survivor, living underground mutant or creature, skilled stalker wearing rags and armored full-face gas mask or air breathing apparatus, toned shoot

Merv Is the Last Man in a Ruined World — Sci-fi Saturday

He’s been alone so long that the thought of another human being panics him

“Merv” (2013) by Steven Woller and Matt Inns (August 11, 2021 at DUST, 13:05 min) After the end of the world, Merv’s life in the lonely wastes is comfortably boring until an unexpected signal heralds the coming of a stranger. Review: This New Zealand-based film company provides a haunting evocation of a totally ruined urban landscape — just an enormous pile of rubble peopled by a surviving hermit. When he catches sight of another human, he pelts like mad for his underground den. Then, arming himself, sets out to confront the stranger. Steven Woller, also one of the producers, does a good job as Merv, who has been alone so long that it seems like the only natural state for…

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cute model of the Earth, Sun and Moon with googly eyes on the chalkboard, a donut, a globe and a cookie on the chalkboard

When God Gets Distracted — Sci-fi Saturday

A clever animated short offers a take on why there is so much violence and chaos in the world

“Tales from the Multiverse” uploaded at DUST by director Magnus Igland Møller (August 6, 2021, 6:36 min, animated) “God is a single parent and amateur programmer. He’s working on project ‘Earth’ but never seems to get a break from the kids. One day though, he finally gets a breakthrough.” Review: This film debuted in 2020 (IMDB). It’s a clever riff on why we live in a crazy world. God can’t really concentrate on the computer program he is using to simulate (create Earth) because he is breaking up fights between his kids. He tries out Adam and Eve, a round Earth and a flat Earth, and dinosaurs living alongside Stone Age people. But his absence, even when he seems to…

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the giant robot launching rocket punch destroy the city,illustration painting

Real vs. Digital Humans Locked in All-Out War — Sci-fi Saturday

The reals are attacking the digitals and the digitals invade Toronto in the 24th century in an attempt to power them down

“E-X-T” by director Adrian Bobb (Uploaded at DUST August 2, 2021, 7:38 min) “200 years after humanity has abandoned the real world for a digital one, the system’s most talented security agent is forced out of retirement to recruit and lead a team of talented warriors to eliminate a threat from a world no one has seen for centuries. The real world.” Further: “In the snow-covered ruins of 24th century Toronto, AEGIS, a humanoid war machine, leads a team of five similar yet unique machines into the EXT, the new real-world to retake an enemy-occupied server installation vital to the survival of their digital homeland. During an attempt to ambush a large pack of enemy-controlled war-drones, AEGIS recalls an interrogation…

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Black Hole in space

What Happens If Earth Passes Through a Black Hole—Sci-fi Saturday

This story isn’t exactly about passage through a black hole: It is a meditation on nothingness that crashes headfirst into nihilism

“Until There Was Nothing” at DUST by Paul Trillo (August 25, 2020, 5:36 min) “A philosophical video and art exploration of the Earth’s passage through a black hole.” Review: This film is actually a philosophical meditation on nothingness — the concept of non-entity, as every concept of mathematics, physics, natural law, and order vanishes. Gravity reverses itself at odd moments for no particular reason. Terrifying. Whether the filmmakers intended this or not, it is really a meditation on the way the fundamental constants of the universe work. And what would happen if they didn’t. For more, see the Kalam Constant, a philosophical proof of the existence of God. — A note re our new feature below: We sort reviewed films…

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Black hole somewere in space. Science fiction. Dramatic space background. Elements of this image were furnished by NASA

A Choice Between Saving One’s Child and Oneself — Sci-fi Saturday

Is life always so simple? Well, we shall see

“Zoe” at DUST by Derek Abel, 2019 and uploaded to DUST, June 21, 2021, 4:58 min) ZOE and her FATHER have lived in space all their lives. The space station they call home is about to explode. Their only chance of survival is an old escape pod but there’s only room for one. Review: The film is very well done technically and the actors are veterans. Zoe is played by Zahlee Moore and her dad by Luke Reeves. That said, the ending seemed too saccharine, too soft. No real sacrifice was required. Not like “The Wreck of the Hesperus,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) which gives a much better sense of what would probably really happen. In “The Wreck… “:…

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hunting

Killing People for “Likes” on an Alien Planet: Sci-fi Saturday

If only this crisp tale didn’t sound so much like the social media we actually know

“Happy Hunting” at DUST by Jess Wolinsky and Jordan M. Hahn (June 22, 2021 at DUST, 2020 at IMDB, 8:06 min) Content warning: Suicide depiction Happy Hunting is a story of Tyler (also known as @66Shadow), an influencer who will do anything to gain followers. In his quest for fame, he now finds himself live-streaming on the nearby planet Proxima Centauri B, where researchers infected with a cosmetic abnormality are hunted for sport, to break @SgtSurge’s kill record. Tyler hunts with precise skill, allowing him to track and kill three victims despite their pleas for mercy, all while hamming it up for his drone companion, who live-streams his every move. He is then attacked by a potential fourth victim, catching…

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Admiring the lake from a pier

When You Are the Only Human Left— Sci-Fi Saturday

Are you the only human left alive or are you the only one who is not alive?

“Martha” at DUST by Alexandra Blue (May 27, 2021, 16:19 min) “Martha wakes up one morning and gets ready, listening to music, brushing her teeth and cramming in breakfast like any other day. But this is no ordinary day. When she leaves the house she shares with her mother, she realizes that everyone has disappeared, and she is the last person on Earth.” Review: The film begins deceptively peacefully with an untidy teen, on her own briefly while Mom is on (apparently) a business trip. Then, abruptly, she discovers a near-impossibility: A car crashed into a tree with no one in site and the key still in the ignition. Good turn of the plot, that. No King Kongs. No Godzillas.…

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Ghost town in fog

Landing Back on Earth as the Sole Inhabitant — Sci-fi Saturday

Unless we count the cat

“Origin” at DUST by David Parrella (Jun 17, 2021), 12:24 min) An astronaut from an interstellar colony returns to Earth to determine why they lost contact. Review: The production values here are good but the plot is quite confusing. The heroic sacrifice never results in information as to the cause of the loss of contact. Trying not to introduce spoilers here but: Any outfit that could found an interstellar colony should be onto glitches like the one on which the story’s crisis turns. Also, as one commenter put it, “too many plotholes.” For example, why does the car even start and where does the gasoline come from? How did the cat survive? If the cat survived, why isn’t everything else…

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Science fiction illustration of a battle cruiser spaceship travelling faster than the speed of light in hyperspace, 3d digitally rendered illustration

What If a Loved One Aged Much Faster Than You? – Sci-fi Saturday

It’s one of the implications of faster-than-light travel

“ARK” at DUST by Nelson Cruz (June 8, 2021, 8:19 min) “Captain Mira Bernhard is finally home after a lengthy mission to the new planet, GAIA – humanity’s last hope. But what’s only been a 5-year trip for her, has been 45-year wait for her husband.” Review: ARK debuted in 2020. Time, we are told, is running out for Earth. The radio announcer, informing the audience of Bernhard’s ship’s arrival, also announces that this will be the final week of broadcasts. We are told that Bernhard’s husband Peter (played by Patrick Gorman) does not know what to expect. But, of course, he really does. And he faces a big decision: Should he just free her (Sheila Cutchlow) to return to…

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AI・人工知能

Could You Be Reconstructed From Your Memories? – Sci-fi Saturday

If you were, would destroying the digitized “you” be murder?

“The Final Moments of Karl Brant” at DUST by Neil Ellice and Matthew Wilson (June 10, 2021 at DUST, 15:46 min) “Set in the near future where experimental technology allows two detectives to bring a murder victim back to life in a digital state in order to question him about his final moments.” Review: This is an “oldie” from 2013, recently uploaded to DUST. Entrepreneur Karl Brant and academic neuroscientist Bennett Ferryman were partners in a promising new high tech venture in which Brant suddenly perishes, leaving Ferryman now the sole owner — and under interrogation down at the local cop shop: “Am I a suspect?” “Not if you give us a good reason why you shouldn’t be.” Not too…

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astronomy, bright, constellation

A Wrinkle In Time: Reading Science Fiction At An Early Age

An early introduction to science fiction will be a boon to any child's imagination

When I was young, my father was constantly pressing new books into my hands. The first in remembrance was C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The second to stand out was Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time. It was a funny choice, really. My father’s theology does not match L’Engle’s universalism, nor are his preferred subjects math and science. At the time, I was unable to wrap my mind around concepts of dimension and time introduced by L’Engle, but the novel became a fast favorite that I have returned to in my adulthood. A Wrinkle In Time was most recently brought back into popular view when an adaptation imagined by director Ava DuVernay was released in theaters…