Science Fiction

Beyond science fiction: Artificial Intelligence and human rights


Today, however, the convergence of complex algorithms, big data, and exponential increases in computational power has resulted in a world where AI raises significant ethical and human rights dilemmas, involving rights ranging from the right to privacy to due process. Although less dramatic than military applications, the development of AI in the domestic sector also opens the door to significant human rights issues such as discrimination and systemic racism. Police forces across the country, for example, are increasingly turning to automated "predictive policing" systems that ingest large amounts of data on criminal activity, demographics, and geospatial patterns to produce maps of where algorithms predict crime is likely to occur. The development of AI in the domestic sector also opens the door to significant human rights issues such as discrimination and systemic racism.

During Trump's present, it's hard to write the future, says science fiction writer John Scalzi

Los Angeles Times

Here is a very real and true thing: 2017 is making it really hard to be a science fiction writer. To be sure, these times -- by which I mean the Trump era to date, let's go ahead and avoid cutesy winking allusions -- are making it hard for lots of writers, not just the ones who write science fiction. But as a science fiction writer, things are even more complicated. The thing is, science fiction has its setting in the future, but the people writing it and reading it live now, and the stories they're writing and reading reflect the hopes and fears of whatever age the story is written in.

Women were the big winners at the 2017 Hugo Awards

Los Angeles Times

The Hugo Awards, widely considered the most prestigious science fiction and fantasy prizes, were announced Friday, with female authors dominating and N.K. Women won both editing awards, with Ellen Datlow taking home the prize in the short form category and Liz Gorinsky winning the long form category. The Hugo Awards also honor television and movies, and this year, the film "Arrival" won for dramatic presentation, long form, beating "Ghostbusters," "Deadpool" and the first season of the television show "Stranger Things." The dramatic presentation, short form, award went to "Leviathan Wakes," an episode of the television series "The Expanse."

Loving AIs: Bringing Unconditional Love to Artificial General Intelligence – Integral Life


Isaac Asimov predicted this dilemma way back in 1942 with his famous "Three Laws of Robotics", which attempted to get ahead of the problem by formulating a set of logical parameters for rational ethical behavior that could be programmed into any artificial intelligence: But it's one thing to program a machine with human values -- what happens if the machines begin programming themselves and formulating their own values? Would those values grow through similar stages that human values grow through? So when it comes to the future of artificial intelligence, we seem to have more questions than answers. Will artificial intelligence be capable of determining its own morals, ethics, and values?

AI policy should be based on science, not science fiction


At the recent National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C., Musk renewed his call for the federal government to actively regulate AI research. Their recently developed Asilomar Principles urge researchers to design AI systems "so that their goals and behaviors can be assured to align with human values throughout their operation." And the government should not shy away from using federal research dollars to encourage the development of AI research with the right approach, such as the "human-compatible AI" design philosophy recently advanced by AI scientist Stuart Russell. For instance, legislation to create a uniform national regulatory scheme for autonomous cars is on the Congressional agenda this year – with strong support from the technology and automotive industries.

A freak thunderstorm in Istanbul last night came straight out of a sci-fi movie


The summer storm led to downed trees, a partially destroyed stone wall, and a port explosion, according to The Associated Press. Other users shared video and images of the streets being overwhelmed by flash flooding, while some images depicted widespread tree damage due to the storm's strong winds. Additionally, the AP reported that part of a stone wall surrounding a Christian-Armenian cemetery was destroyed. But perhaps the scariest bit of footage shared online was video of an explosion caused by the storm, which was likely caused by strong winds sweeping in off the water.

U of I Names New Head of Rare Book and Manuscript Library

U.S. News

Thomas earned her master's degree in library and information sciences at the U of I and worked as a graduate assistant in the rare book library before embarking on her career that took her to Northern Illinois University. At NIU, she was curator of rare books and special collections and the head of distinctive collections. She was responsible for popular culture special collections, including the literary papers of more than 75 science fiction and fantasy authors.

From our archives: Chasing eclipses in the 19th and 20th century

Popular Science

In 1905, three naval ships took an American expedition to Spain to view an eclipse, where astronomers set up an entire camp complete with a telegraph to make detailed observations. The author, noted astronomer Samuel Alfred Mitchell, describes the expedition in detail, including asides about the number of rounds of ammo used in diplomatic salutes in Gibraltar (152), bullfighting, and how friendly the Spaniards were--even as the American delegation mangled their language. By June of 1918, researchers had learned more about the Sun's corona. During this eclipse, which also cut across a large swath of the United States, researchers hoped to observe flickering shadows that had been reported but not captured on film.

'Rick and Morty' Is Actually Righteous Science Fiction


"Even if you took all of the humor out of it, and told it just as a straight, serious science fiction story, it's a good enough story on its own to get published in a science fiction magazine," he says. Listen to the complete interview with John Joseph Adams, Matt London, and Carli Velocci in Episode 265 of Geek's Guide to the Galaxy (above). But I think that with Season 2 having so much character work involved with all this other crazy science fiction stuff, I think that'll definitely drive it going forward. So I think it's interesting watching Rick and Morty become a thing, and watching people who don't normally engage in cartoons because they're'for children' or'for stoners in college' or whatever, watch it and get a glimpse of it and realize that it's a very smart show."

Opinion Please Prove You're Not a Robot


When science fiction writers first imagined robot invasions, the idea was that bots would become smart and powerful enough to take over the world by force, whether on their own or as directed by some evildoer. Twitter is particularly distorted by its millions of robot accounts; during the French election, it was principally Twitter robots who were trying to make #MacronLeaks into a scandal. This time, someone with an agenda but no actual public support unleashed robots who impersonated (via stolen identities) hundreds of thousands of people, flooding the system with fake comments against federal net neutrality rules. To be sure, today's impersonation-bots are different from the robots imagined in science fiction: They aren't sentient, don't carry weapons and don't have physical bodies.