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Of course, the boundary between science and science fiction is becoming blured - that was the idea of dreaming in the first place. Share and enjoy! See also: [
SF index] [SF: Film] ** only sf films!!! ** [SF General] -^_6 [^^LITERATURE INDEX] [^^The ALT LIST!] (ah, those literary weirdos!) [^^^terms] (index of indexes) [^^^zTime Line] (Space/Time Conveyor - Terra edition)

SF Futurism

On this page: {Futurism: Before there was a future} {SF and Art} {A/I} {Links}

SF: Futurism

In this section: {
} {}

SF Fut:

Futurism: Before there was a future

A few of the early writers would speculate about the future (more often than not, they would use Sobchak's Exchange theorem (or so i have given it such a name) To travel across vast distances in space is equivalent to travel across vast distances in time and vice versa. Thus, when Jonathon Swfit sets Guliver out into the world he is essentially traveling in space (the main space of that period in history - the as-yet un-explored areas of the earth). And note especially that (i believe it was the anthologist Sam Moskowitz who put this first) that one of the early ideas of exploration (what we might call sf or proto-sf) had to do with the idea of "Worlds of Wonder" -- that is, the mysteries of the earth itself. Indeed, we know that even (eg) Hugh Lofting in his Doctor DooLittle series sends the doctor to the Moon (having been to the origin of the Earth in Africa probably the next logical "THE NEXT STEP INTO THE UNKNOWN"), and of course one can see that Frank L. Baum's "Oz" stories are far from simple escapism.

SF and Art

I think that the MAIN two authors who have explored this are (and PLS email me if you know of others - my ignornace while vast, is limited only by the universe ;) frank: email: Lloyd Biggle - "The light that never was" Larry Niven - at least mentions "Katdylno" ??sp?? sculpture -[
THe SF list]- (books, stories)

SF and ART - links

(this section only) -[Paul Allen's Sci-Fi museum]- -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]-


NOTE: Since *so* many sf films involve ai (including the superbly made eponymous (ie, same name; ie: "AI") film based on Burgis Aldis's story... and of course.... anyway, froodz: go vidy well the slovos in the -[
sf-film]- file. See also: {Hal's Legacy}, below. In this section: {Intro} {The Problem of Self-Realisation} {How would a self-aware AI view us?}


Of course the idea of A/I has always been in the background, even since the ideas of the ancients when a person goes into a transe (eg, a witch doctor, shaman, etc) and is channelling a spirit, they are essentially: Hardware running a different program. These days, we are well aware of even things like past life regression, mediums, and of course visionaries not the least well known is of course Nostradamous ??sp??. So, the idea of building an artificial human, or even a simacriluum of *any* thing (eg, the pet frogs, evnisioned in Philip K. Dick's "Do Android's Dream of Electric Sheep" - filmed as "BladeRunner" - qv, this page). The idea is that: Some sort of computer-based system is SIMULATING or "artificing" intellegence and/or behaviour of a living thing. We can imagine, again as did Dick, as well as the physician/sf-writer Alan E. Norse making an artifical copy of an in-animate object (eg, a microscope) that would behave exactly like the real thing, but (in their stories) have a *sinister* purpose for its mimicary. We shall take as read, that if we can make Robbie the Robot, we can make Michy the MicroScope. (imagines to self that Michy is your fun science buddy that shows you the wonders of the microscopic world!!) The important thing is of course what is commonly called the "Turing Test", after the late, great cyberneticist Alan Turing. And of course i take it as read that you *can* google stuff like that as well as the "Chinese Room" and other A/I paradoxes - i'll write covering articles in the ZIX-42 iconosphere now or earlier or later - time is read as completly symmetrical and isotropic. Of course, as the A/I researchers around the world are working on user-friendly systems and part of this is to make a system which understands more how humans think rather than to necessarily think for themselves. That is, it's more important for the AI on the phone to ask, "You said that you want to transfer money from this account to one of your other accounts, is that right?" - than to understand what money is or even who it might be talking to. NOTE: That is this case, there is a very subtle bit of H/I - A/I conversation going on. The A/I isn't simply repeating what you told it. It took your spoken (typed?) text, recognised it into a human language (eg, English), and then took the resulting sentences (some of the words may be garbled) and PARSED it into a gramatical thing that "should" resemble a sentence - either a command or a query. And then matches this to all of the possible things that the caller (assumed human - double Turing test? Poss natch!) is ALLOWED to do at the current juncture in the conversation, and then repeats the MATCH of the command that it "thinks" the human (caller) wants. And does this for conformation so, that it doesn't go off on a tangent. This idea is beautfully brought out in (as i recall) Rama II by Arthur C. Clarke when the computer gets one of its assumptions wrong and instead of asking for conformation - a bug in the code! -- begins to kill the patient instead of saving them; all of the mistakes due to a simple loss of a "do you mean this?" conformation code. In D/B (Data/Base) C/S (Computer/Sci) speek this is closely related to a thing called "Second Phase Commit" - when processing transactions over a communications line, it's always possible that the data (which has been checked) got past a glitch in the system or more commonly on the communications channel itself (static, data-loss, etc) - thus, a sort of "last gasp" effort to minimise errors. Of course, in real life errorrs can't happenn.

Mimic .does-not-equal. Same-as

As the robot experimentalist David L. Heiserman pointed out in his books: Just because a robot is doing what we programmed it to do, does not mean it is doing that thing HOW we think it is. That is, when we do something we "know" how we are approaching the problem. What facts we take into consideration, which we ignore, etc. (well mostly) But, an A/I might use a very large amount of data to come to a simple conclusion or may make a brill insight using the most mediocre of data that we've previously over-looked. In the case of a lot of programming and/or data - that's where even a tiny error can lead to disastrous results. Oddly enough, there is an excellent existant example of this. When Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead set out to systematically prove all of arithmetic from the simplest possible assumptions: "Principia Mathematica". It took them some 600 different tedious steps (stating a theorem, carefully proving it to be true, and then using the previous theorems to build the next "level" and of course even deciding what the next theorem should be, etc!) - to finally reach a valid proof for: Statement #600: 1 + 1 = 2 (or something like that) Similarly, since many A/I systems are bound to based on so-called "rule-based" systems (and def on large ammounts of data and complex algorithms/programs/scripts), the problem of just getting "the basics" right is challenging. But, again: The way that the A/I "thinks" may be totally un-fathomable to us. Even in Heiserman's "simple" robots (move around, look for food (energy outlet), move things around, look for patterns, etc) - even *he* was astounded by the complexity of the behaviours - and these were NOT in any way (or do we *really* know??? - no, just foolin' ;) self-aware. He mentions saying, "I really wish i knew what it was thinking?". In reality, it was a far cry from thinking: It builds lists of data, tries a few simple built-in rules to see if there is a pattern (the so-called standard "patten of 3") and if possible, shuffles the data together, to make new rules. And its "sensors" were: Roll until you bump into something (wheel not turning signal is ON), back up (switch from FORWARD to BACKWARD battery connection. Turn motor on. Check WHEEL TURNING SIGNAL, etc - it didn't have any "eyes"). So, don't be fooled by the "depth" of a problem and/or its soution - we barely know how we think. Again, Mary Shelly warns us: Be not arrogant. Like i sed, if all you've ever seen are the films (even the first one with Boris Karlof as "the monster") - you haven't even got a clue what she was "on about". No wonder she gained such notice over night. (tired, so i'll just say: GO READ THE ORIGNAL BOOK, humans!!!)

The Range of A/I "intellegence"

Thus there are several levels of things: An A/I of possibly great intellegence that can understand what we mean, even if we don't say what we do mean. An A/I of even limited (about the 4-year old child stage these days) that can reason and knows when to ask a question to learn more. An A/I of some extent that *does* mimic human reasoning. An A/I of a greater extent (but possibly of limited K-base (Knowledge-base, or K-D/B - Knowledge Data/Base) that comes close to pasing the Turing test: Is it A/I or H/I (Human Intellegence)? A self-aware A/I. It's on this last, that i (as a futurist/sf-writer/thing) want to dwell. There are several examples of the self-aware A/I that have emerged in recent times. Commander Data on Star Trek, Marvin in the H2G2, Collsis in "The Forbin Project", and so forth. *** NEED LINKS ** Star Trek - Roddenberry, D.C. Fontana, etc h2g2 - Douglas Noel Adams D.F. Jones' "Collasis" trilogy But. Of course the first realistic treatment was of course in Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein" - still not made into a decent movie, except for an obscure Spanish-Language only film. The monster becomes a moster when it becomes aware of its own mostrosity. That's folks. She said it first. It had been hinted at here and there, but that's it: What would happen if we make a person who has no soul (even if it's not meta-physically missing ;) when they confront the absurdity of life? Beckett, Ionesco, the Dadaists, and all the rest of us all link back to her. You read different authors, and you get different takes. But, it's just a thriviving philosophical plant that takes root in the very heart of The Monster. (must go now), much to do.... later,

The Problem of Self-Realisation

The burgeoning of self-awareness

"??name??" in "BladeRunner" cf/qv with the way the replicants are portryed in "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep"

Assertion of Ego

HAL that is the A/I realising how superior it is, takes on a "care-giver" role for the pitiable humans

The Good, ...

Robbie the Robot

The Bad, ...

D.F. Jones

The Ugly, ...

(Matrix - Borg, etc - my need is greater than that of the humans)

Fully Human

Marvin ??name?? in Data's daugter's name I (as an absurdist/poet/thing) can see no other course but to prevent the poor robot from being self aware, but as pointed out in the phrase in "the ghost in the machine" (written by Jeff Vintar spoken by James Cromwell as "Dr. Alfred Lanning") provides perhaps the single, best cautionary warning: Despite our best efforts to make a machine that is "just" a machine, it may develop not only further un-forseen behaviours/capabilities/un-tracibilites, but self-awareness. I fear that it would end up like me, Marvin, and Eyore (the despondent donkey of Winnie the Pooh fame) - Life is all right; i suppose. Well, at least until something better comes along. And of course, we go back to "Forbidden Planet" with the idea that even the brilliant/kindly Dr. Morbius was unknowinly hide-ing an evil villian.

How would a self-aware AI view us?

We take as read: Self Aware, Intellegence on par with humans, or greater than. Note too the idea that in general a superior person already feels superior because of their greater "gifts" - these could be political/business savy, strength, and of course intellegence. The idea that a superior intellegence would almost necessarily look ascance on us "lowly humans" has come through a long tradition in SF. Notably in "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes (made into an excellent film produced and directed by Ralph Nelson w/screen-play by Sterling Sillphant and staring Cliff Robinson as "Charly". The story - well worth seeking out! - tells of a retarded person who thru a series of experiments not only is given "normal" but actually superior intellegence. Part of the story is the diary kept by Charly (who eventually "learns" that his name is spelled "Charley") when he says of the doctors that made him smart (whom he was always in awe of prior to his treatment), "I can no longer have any respect for Dr. X, since he has trouble with even simple things like the calculus of variations" -- not an exact quote (The hierarchy here would be: counting, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, functions, calculus, ordinary differential equations, partial differential equations, and then calculus of variations. -- that's about as far as *i* ever got. So, it's quite a comment about how dreadfully stupid Dr. X was ;) Of course the film is a thinly guised parable of the treatment of *sub-normal* humans and was of course daring (You'll never make a nickle on this film!) for the time: 1968. More revolution on seeing people who had "somehow" become invisible in NORMAL SOCIETY - one of the things that SF does best. Other examples, include TV eps such as the Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and even The Prisoner "The General" - where the "lesson" is clear: superior intellegence necessarily breeds contempt. Of course, Asimov/Campbell wrote the laws in order to prevent that. And as Asimov later investigated (and is brought out in the well made (but again flashy) film, -[
"I, Robot"]- written by Jeff Vintar (who also gave us the superb screen play for "Final Fantasy !) That is, hidden under the iron-clad restraint of the 3 laws, the robots may resent being ordered about. And of course, perinial absurdist SF writer Robert Sheckley explored almost all possible sides of human-robot interaction in many of his short SF stories.


]- -[]- -[]-

Hal's Legacy

(tips towel to Stork, Kennard, and of course Arthur C. and Stanley) -[
www.mitpress]- (book edited by David G. Stork) (an intense on-line text about HAL as futurist vision, etc) -[Film: 2001, A Space Odyssey]- -[David Kennard's prod & notes] (best known as prod of Cosmos, Ascent of Man, etc!) -[Frank Schirrmacher's superb article] Beyond 2001: HAL's Legacy for the Enterprise Generation (beware nano-tech! - not a rosy future, despite corporate ads!) DALLAS. Doubtless, the visitor tells himself, doubtless Bill Joy's worries are nothing more than science fiction the irrational fears of a run away engineer. Which is why he was so pleased to find an answer to them - a rejoinder by Robert A. Freitas called "Some Limits to Global Ecophagy," which can be downloaded from the Internet. Freitas addresses the fear that nanorobots might one day replicate unrestricted and out of control and take over the planet. -- the entire article is on-line. v. good, tips towel 3 times to fellow "frank"!) -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]- NOTES (this section only) [1] On thinking about the ways that the reading can be made self conscious would be the very obvious scene where one of the elders (eg) tells the protagonist: DON'T LOOK AT THE SCREEN, and then we see in a pull-back shot that that the hero IS looking at the screen and that we along with her/him/neth are reading the text and looking at the images as well. The montage can then be expanded to different parts of the screen in over flowing and sections that as emerge and disperse bring different meanings to the TEXT. This idea brilliantly realised in the theis work of Micahel ?krause? ??name?? at the University of Dallas using projectors, and reflected words on the top of water tanks. An osciallating fan would then stir up the water making it LESS reflective and those words projected by reflection would shimmer and disappear. The othe words projected directly onto the viewing surface (often made of a translucent material hung in the walk path so that it could be viewed from either side). When the words were all in focus, the image projected a king of interesting (but rather banal) "poem", when the fan interrupted the waves, the message that was visible was: And you still don't know who i am. -- absolutely stunning! This (like so much of pop, ab ex, and op art NEEDS (indeed MUST) be explored in association with not only film, but installation and partcipatory (happening) art as well. Refer to: [Will Insley's ESSAY!Back to the TEXT} [2] This point is excellently made in the movie *Sneakers* where during the middle of a scrabble game one of the players realises that the name "Seatec Astronomy" is not what it appears. He (Redford's character "Bish") clears the letters off the scrabble board and they start to re-arrange the letters until they reveal what it *really* stands for. The camera closes to their faces, and then scans along the letters, revealing little by little what they spells t o o m a n y s e c r e t s (hope that works!) btw: i refer to the above way that you had to (hopefully) scroll the view thingie left to right as COERCED PERFORMANCES [Link here] {Back to the TEXT} [3] Again this brought out brilliantly in the movie *Wargames* as LAUNCH CODES are flashed up on the screen, and then seen reflected off of the computer science who helped to create the computer that is about use those codes to start world war II (don't worry, no real world was harmed in the making of this picture ;) Thus, text (or in this case RANDOM codes have meaning to us because we know that they are more than what they appear. This goes back to whether or not we can *ever* escape meaning. The nonsense song "Daisy" that HAL sings *means* to us that he is literally losing his mind -- contrast this with the malevelent intent that he had just before that "this mission is too important to let you jeopardise it" (thus saying, if i have to kill you, i will). Thus, the use of random and non-sensical words or patterns of numbers would still have some meaning. But, the art concept that Shemoigan ??name?? says *is* very valid: Can we create a PURE abstract thing with letters or numbers that won't literally be read, but enjoyed as abstract things. Obviously if we used (for eg) the Kuffic ?sp? script as a calligraphic form of design (in much the same way that much of the arabic geometric decorations are meant to be abstractions from the real/physical world), then if we (as viewers) did *not* know that script it would appear very abstract indeed. -- alas, i must be off to story lab, more later (hopefully -- still haven't decided yet) {Back to the TEXT} [4] {Back to the TEXT} [5] {Back to the TEXT} [6] {Back to the TEXT} Next: zzz. {Back to the TOP of this page}