science fiction


'I've seen more self-aware ants!' AI: More Than Human – review

The Guardian

In 2016, a machine beat the world's best (human) player at the ancient strategy game Go, which up to then was said to be too intuitive for a computer. AlphaGo's victory was doubly stunning because it taught itself Go by trial and error. Does the fact that computers can now learn mean that artificial intelligence (AI) has moved from science fiction to reality? The story of AlphaGo is told in a specially isolated display, almost like a little temple, at the heart of the Barbican's sprawling survey of the past, present and future of machines that can think for themselves. It's a show that's sorely needed.


Expert reveals why the idea of alien life no longer seems like science fiction

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Extraterrestrial life, that familiar science-fiction trope, that kitschy fantasy, that CGI nightmare, has become a matter of serious discussion, a'risk factor', a'scenario'. How has ET gone from sci-fi fairytale to a serious scientific endeavour modelled by macroeconomists, funded by fiscal conservatives and discussed by theologians? Because, following a string of remarkable discoveries over the past two decades, the idea of alien life is not as far-fetched as it used to seem. Discovery now seems inevitable and possibly imminent. Extraterrestrial life, that familiar science-fiction trope, that kitschy fantasy, that CGI nightmare, has become a matter of serious discussion, a'risk factor', a'scenario'.


Brain-Machine Interfaces Could Give Us All Superpowers

#artificialintelligence

One rainy day, Bill was riding his bicycle when the mail truck in front of him suddenly stopped. The crash left him paralyzed from the chest down. His autonomy, or what's left of it, comes from voice controls that let him lower and lift the blinds in his room or adjust the angle of his motorized bed. For everything else, he relies on round-the-clock care. Bill doesn't know Anne, who has Parkinson's disease; her hands shake when she tries to apply makeup or weed the garden.


Text segmentation on multilabel documents: A distant-supervised approach

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Segmenting text into semantically coherent segments is an important task with applications in information retrieval and text summarization. Developing accurate topical segmentation requires the availability of training data with ground truth information at the segment level. However, generating such labeled datasets, especially for applications in which the meaning of the labels is user-defined, is expensive and time-consuming. In this paper, we develop an approach that instead of using segment-level ground truth information, it instead uses the set of labels that are associated with a document and are easier to obtain as the training data essentially corresponds to a multilabel dataset. Our method, which can be thought of as an instance of distant supervision, improves upon the previous approaches by exploiting the fact that consecutive sentences in a document tend to talk about the same topic, and hence, probably belong to the same class. Experiments on the text segmentation task on a variety of datasets show that the segmentation produced by our method beats the competing approaches on four out of five datasets and performs at par on the fifth dataset. On the multilabel text classification task, our method performs at par with the competing approaches, while requiring significantly less time to estimate than the competing approaches.


*Love, Death & Robots* Could Have Been So Much Better

WIRED

The new Netflix series Love, Death & Robots has a brilliant premise--take science fiction stories and adapt them into an anthology of animated shorts. Science fiction author Tom Gerencer loved seeing so much variety in such quick succession. "I just couldn't stop wanting to watch the next one, and I couldn't stop being amazed that the next one seemed even better than the one before, and that there were so many of them," Gerencer says in Episode 356 of the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast. "Totally inventive ideas, and the visuals on them were gorgeous and stunning." The show is at its best when it focuses on serious, thoughtful science fiction by top authors such as Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds.


Why This Fan Fiction Site's Surprise Hugo Nomination Is Such a Big Deal

Slate

The Hugo Awards are some of the most important prizes in genre fiction, including science fiction and fantasy. Among past winners we see Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, Neil Gaiman, and most recently, N.K. Jemisin, who made history for winning Best Novel three years in a row for every book in her Broken Earth series. This year, nestled among nominees for novels, short stories, and even individual episodes of The Good Place and Doctor Who, is an unexpected contender for the Best Related Work category: the primarily women-run fan fiction website Archive of Our Own. Archive of Our Own (often known as "AO3" for short) is an online platform for fan works-- creative work based on existing media like novels, books, and video games, produced by fans of the originals. The nearly 5 million works archived there--4,690,000 as of this writing--represent almost 2 million registered users and countless more who visit the site every day, consuming content and leaving comments.


em High Life /em 's Claire Denis on Designing a "Pro-Sex" Space Prison

Slate

Most of Claire Denis' High Life takes place on a spaceship far outside the solar system. Its inhabitants, who include Robert Pattinson and André 3000, are convicts, audacious men and women who evaded Earthly prison time by volunteering for a kamikaze mission to gather data about distant black holes. Confined on the ship, the prisoners wander among a cluster of spaces: dimly lit bedrooms and corridors; a lush greenhouse garden; a lab; and finally an austere room known as the "fuckbox," where Juliette Binoche's doctor enjoys time with a severe-looking dildo apparatus. Slate sat down with Denis to discuss how she designed the film's elegantly lo-fi aesthetic, including her "pro-sex" approach to the fuckbox. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


The 'Downton Abbey' movie will revolve around a royal visit

Mashable

Apparently, Downton Abbey fans aren't the only ones eager to drop in on that stately British manor. As revealed in the movie's first trailer, shown at CinemaCon Wednesday, the story centers on a very special visit from the king and queen. SEE ALSO: 'Downton Abbey' cast and crew document the #LastDaysofDownton with some choice selfies Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski teased that the Downton Abbey film would "pick up where the series left off," with beloved familiar characters and "special new visitors." The trailer takes a second to soak in the familiar sights and sounds of Downton Abbey before showing how things have changed: Lady Edith pulls up with her family in a car, prompting Lord Grantham to remark, "No maid, no valet, no nanny, even!" The family soon receives word that the king and queen plan to pay a visit, and they and their staff spend much of the rest of the trailer preparing for the occasion -- "a royal luncheon, a parade, and a dinner!" exclaims Mrs. Patmore -- when they aren't getting tangled up in their own personal dramas, that is.


Why Claire Denis cast Robert Pattinson in the sensual science-fiction fable 'High Life'

Los Angeles Times

Claire Denis is a filmmaker's filmmaker. Though the French writer-director has never had a commercial breakthrough in the U.S., she has been a steady presence in international cinema circles from her debut feature "Chocolat" in 1988 through such titles as 1999's "Beau Travail," 2010's "White Material," starring Isabelle Huppert, and "Let the Sunshine In," which starred Juliette Binoche and was released in the U.S. last year. In part, Denis is so well-regarded because she remains so unpredictable. There is no signature style to her work and it remains surprising with each and every film. Her latest, "High Life," which opens in New York and Los Angeles this week via A24, arrives with higher than usual commercial expectations.


Sci-Fi Writers Are Imagining a Path Back to Normality

WIRED

In recent months the science fiction world has grown increasingly political, with dozens of writers contributing stories to anthologies such as Resist: Tales from a Future Worth Fighting Against and If This Goes On. Another prominent example is A People's Future of the United States, edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams. "I wanted to use my position as an editor to try to help magnify the voices of the people that we invited to participate in this anthology," Adams says in Episode 354 of the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast. "To sort of shout back at the Trump administration, and also to try to imagine some new futures that might help us figure out how to get back to normal from here." The book draws inspiration (and its title) from Howard Zinn's counterculture classic A People's History of the United States, and like that earlier work, A People's Future of the United States tries to present a wide variety of marginalized perspectives.