California Inc.: Anyone in the market for a slightly used search engine?

Los Angeles Times

Expect financial markets to face headwinds today after the Federal Reserve reported Friday that U.S. industrial production fell more than expected in March. This is the latest sign that economic growth slowed significantly in the first quarter. On the plus side, though, many economists still forecast a rebound in growth as the year plods ahead. Don't complain -- you got three extra days this year. The normal deadline, April 15, was a holiday -- Emancipation Day -- in the District of Columbia (Emancipation Day is actually April 16, but because that fell on a Saturday, the holiday was observed Friday).


In the film 'Search Engines,' Connie Stevens and Joely Fisher play, what else, mother and daughter

Los Angeles Times

For actress/singer/director Connie Stevens, it's always been about "me and the girls" -- her actress daughters Joely and Tricia Leigh Fisher from her short-lived marriage to singer Eddie Fisher. "They've always been the light in my eye," said Stevens, 78. "And I have found the older I get, that's really what counts anyway." And her daughters, who were just toddlers when she divorced Fisher in 1969, went with her when she performed in Las Vegas or made a movie -- Eddie Fisher, who battled substance abuse for years, wasn't part of their lives when they were growing up. And it wasn't too long before the Fisher girls would join their mom on stage.


The time travel paradox of artificial intelligence

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Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse Five and J.K.Rowling's series of Harry Potter novels describe the time travel paradox. Traveling through time changes the future from the point in time where the traveler arrived. The personal assistant that will arrive at some time in the future will change humans from that point in time forward, but in a more impactful way than GPS. Google and Facebook have recruited the best artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning talent in the world to build personal assistants in small increments. The personal assistant's intimate knowledge of users' likes and dislikes and awareness of situational context could be like Samantha depicted in the movie Her, but without an emotional relationship so users will not fall in love with their assistants.


Thanksgiving done wrong in satire 'Search Engines'

Los Angeles Times

Fisher plays a recently divorced mother of two teens and out-of-work art critic determined to cook a traditional festive dinner with all the trimmings in her sunny Southern California home for her smartphone-addicted friends and extended family. But taming the turkey proves to be the least of her challenges when her neighborhood's cell reception suddenly goes dead, which proceeds to bring out the worst in some already less than exemplary behavior from her preoccupied houseguests. Unfortunately many viewers will have experienced their own connectivity issues long before those characters do. Although there's a genuinely cozy rapport between Fisher and Stevens, the other cast members, including Daphne Zuniga, Nick Court, Natasha Gregson Wagner and Michael Muhney, have a tougher time trying to make all the overwritten, self-consciously quirky dialogue believably their own. Filmmaker Russell Brown clearly had something pertinent he wished to say about our plugged-in, tuned-out obsession with the Internet and was obviously going for a Luis Buñuel-Robert Altman style of social commentary here.


A search engine could become the first true artificial intelligence

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Everything in our online life is indexed. Every idle tweet, status update, or curious search query feeds the Google database. The tech giant recently bought a leading artificial-intelligence research outlet, and it already has a robotics company on its books. So what if Google, or Facebook, or any of the companies we entrust our information to, wanted to use our search histories to create an artificially intelligent robot? Writer and director Alex Garland's new film, Ex Machina, looks at just that.