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Fri, Feb. 27th, 2015, 12:11 pm
Faith. I have faith.

Last day at current post today. It always makes me a little maudlin. I've enjoyed my time here at LargeLondonUniversity for the last few months. I even got to exercise some old creative muscles, doing portrait photography of students for the undergraduate prospectus, which I enjoyed hugely. It was really fun doing something creative again, and has left me roaring for more... wouldn't it be nice to make a career out of creating art, taking photos and writing and selling little bits of creativity and sending them out into the world like hope-doves? I am going to try and get into some more writing/editorial/proofreading/copywriting type jobs, as that's where my skills lie, and that's also the kind of work I enjoy.

But alas, it's only contract work, and they are now putting the current edition of the prospectus to bed, which means I have to find new work. Ho hum. The agency haven't responded to my poking this week, which means I suspect that I have next week off. Well, I shall look forward to a little R&R instead then... as well as making a few more job applications. Sadly, the reality of life means I cannot go without an income for more than a week before the bills start rapping at the door! But I have no doubt I'll find something, I've seen a few decent prospects recently and I have an agency who are pretty good at finding me work too.

Just hope I enjoy the next job.

Thu, Feb. 19th, 2015, 11:29 am

Let's talk about computer games for a minute. So I have friends and family who are gamers, and others who are not. But if anyone out there doesn't play games, and was either wondering what all the fuss was about, or was thinking about giving them a go, I recommend two articles.

This is the first one:

And this second one recommends some games for beginners. I'm not sure about some of the choices, as it depends why someone doesn't play games, which can vary from person to person. But there are links to further articles at the bottom.

Thu, Feb. 19th, 2015, 09:55 am

Hey, this could be good news. Neill Blomkamp has been given the go ahead to try his hand at a film in the Alien franchise (and it's *not* Prometheus 2).

Nice, I say give the guy a chance. I was underwhelmed by Elysium - it had some nice touches but overall the story was a bit unfocussed - but he has some nice character designs and is clearly a huge fan of the franchise. He's also adamant about getting Sigourney Weaver back.

Good luck unravelling the mess that Aliens 4 (Resurrection) left of the film universe though! Not to mention all the weak spin-offs since.

Mon, Feb. 16th, 2015, 10:32 am

Via andrewducker this awesome webcomic about Zeus' debt to a mortal.

ETA: to correct the LJ-tag.

Wed, Feb. 11th, 2015, 03:44 pm

Check out the concept art for Neill Blomkamp's take on an Aliens film.

Mon, Feb. 9th, 2015, 11:35 am
Build more robots

Further to my post the other day, The Guardian has a selection of views from leading A.I. experts and theorists on the potential and also dangers inherent in the field of A.I. research (read more) ...and yes, predictably, the article has a photo from the first Terminator film at the beginning!

Fri, Feb. 6th, 2015, 04:33 pm
Do I, in fact, welcome our new robot overlords?

So recently (and for the last few years as well) I’ve seen a lot of discussion in the media about Artificial Intelligence, AIs, the Singularity, the idea of robots or computers or software “coming to life”, or otherwise achieving some semblance of what we might consider “sentience”.

There have been stories about the AIs that can beat Grand Masters at chess. Recently, there was a story about an AI that could not be beaten while playing poker. Blade Runner made use of the Voigt-Kampff machine to detect whether someone was human or not which is of course analogous to the real-life Turing test. One way, it has been suggested, to measure the first true AI is to beat the Turing test - that is, faking being a human successfully.

We’ve seen this idea before – in early sci fi literature naturally, say Asimov for example, but also in film – from 2001’s creepy HAL (itself named to resemble the otherwise-acronymed IBM) to The Terminator’s Skynet, the evil sentient AI that unleashes nukes and an army of killer machines to wipe out the human race, the neon-streaked videogame world of Tron, the complex AI-run human-battery-operated artificial universe of the Matrix films... and of course there's the human-looking androids in the excellent Alien series, or the classic Blade Runner – but like many things in Hollywood/tv/popular culture, things tend to come around again, in cycles of popularity.

The last few years have seen an explosion of AI-related films, like Her’s take on Siri, last year’s British indie The Machine, the (pretty terrible) Johnny Depp-starring Transcendence, the just-released Ex Machina (which seems really similar to last year’s The Machine, although I’ve yet to see the most recent one to compare) and of course, the upcoming blockbuster Avengers Age of Ultron, where the villainy this time round comes in the form of the James Spader-voiced advanced sentient robot Ultron (presumably accidentally created by Tony Stark in the Marvel movieverse unlike in the original comics). There’s Robot and Frank, Real Steel, and more that I've forgotten...

(There are other previous examples that fall into the outlier category, i.e. they weren’t part of a “wave” of films with the same theme all coming out at the same time, films like the Kubrick-originated but Spielberg-directed AI – which at least has some non-killer robots for a change - and Will Smith vs killer robot action fest I, Robot)

There are upcoming films too – I could mention Chappie, or the inevitable Terminator sequel, the wincingly-subtitled Genisys. And then there is Robopocalypse, which I just finished reading, which is being turned into an apocalyptic blockbuster, in the same vein as World War Z but with robots instead of zombies.

And Person of Interest, which is one of the best tv shows I’m watching at the moment… this can be described as being like Batman meets The Sarah Connors Chronicles – hey, there’s that Terminator universe again! – but less killer robots and more of a considered take on “what if we really did invent a thinking AI and what would happen next?”

Because that’s where all this is about. What if we created an artificial intelligence that could truly be said to be alive? What if it could think, and learn? What if it could replicate, producing others like itself? What if, with sufficient resources – be that processing power, or physical materials – it could not only reproduce itself, but improve on itself? Does its intelligence - the rate at which it can be said to think, to be alive - continue to increase exponentially? Is it infinite? And in such a world, does humanity have any place? Does humanity become extinct? or merely redundant? no longer the dominant life form? Or – because we live in a physical universe, one with finite resources – are we inevitably going to come into conflict with these AIs as we compete for resources?

In short, as some of today’s great inventors and thinkers are saying, does creating Artificial Intelligence mean the end of the human race?

Or is it rather the opposite, humanity finally reaching the levels of the sublime by becoming God and creating its own race to be humanity’s child?

Out of control AI will not kill us, says Microsoft Chief.

But Stephen Hawking disagrees: "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded," he said.

So too does Elon Musk. And Sir Clive Sinclair, inventor of the Spectrum computer, goes even further: “"Once you start to make machines that are rivalling and surpassing humans with intelligence, it's going to be very difficult for us to survive," he told the BBC. "It's just an inevitability."


"You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise, it’s crawling toward you. You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t, not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that?"

- the Voigt-Kampff test as seen in Blade Runner (dir. Ridley Scott) which is based on the novel 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' by Philip K Dick.


Interesting stuff - any thoughts?

Wed, Jan. 28th, 2015, 04:38 pm
Placeholder Text

I've got a couple of blogposts bubbling away, when I 'm ready I'll share them.

The first one is cool and involves speculative thoughts about AIs/the singularity, and the rise of the machines, both in recent and upcoming technologies and (increasingly) in popular culture. That one will be fun.

The second one is more personal, I may not even get to it because it's so personal - it's about death and loss and friendship and time. Someone died, and it brought up a lot of feelings. We'll see if I decide to say something about that. It is as they say a long story.

So, um, I guess I'm just posting now as... placeholder text?

Wed, Jan. 21st, 2015, 12:41 pm


"I understand that boobs are sexy, and often hilarious. That’s cool. That’s biology. But their depiction in games doesn’t always have to appeal to the lowest common denominator."

Pretty funny article.

In real life news, I am dying of boredom. This is similar to dying of cancer but (usually) slower, and definitely less fun. Send help. Send kittens and chocolate.

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