Last year was an eventful one in terms of all the interviews I conducted. Here are a few highlights of the interviews I did last year for you to browse at your leisure. The latest in digital print technology brings Bruce Lee's face to life with this S.H. Figuarts rendition. I started the year talking with Bandai about their toy and figure output, specifically at the collector's end of the spectrum. In the time since, we've had all manner of major new announcements in terms of Bandai's Tamashii Nation line as well as a move into more worldwide markets.
Facebook Inc is working on automatically flagging offensive material in live video streams, building on a growing effort to use artificial intelligence to monitor content, said Joaquin Candela, the company's director of applied machine learning. The social media company has been embroiled in a number of content moderation controversies this year, from facing international outcry after removing an iconic Vietnam War photo due to nudity, to allowing the spread of fake news on its site. Facebook has historically relied mostly on users to report offensive posts, which are then checked by Facebook employees against company "community standards." Decisions on especially thorny content issues that might require policy changes are made by top executives at the company. Candela told reporters that Facebook increasingly was using artificial intelligence to find offensive material.
Digitizing analog processes can have steep learning curve. Even as a kid, I could see the visual difference between TV sitcoms - shot on videotape - and films. Video had a jarring sharpness that, paradoxically, made the picture less real. Films, with much higher resolution than video, looked more real, even though the motion blur and background softness - among other artifacts - are a clear departure from reality as our eyes perceive it. The next wave of IT innovation will be powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
The social media company has been embroiled in a number of content moderation controversies this year, from facing international outcry after removing an iconic Vietnam War photo due to nudity, to allowing the spread of fake news on its site. Facebook has historically relied mostly on users to report offensive posts, which are then checked by Facebook employees against company "community standards." Decisions on especially thorny content issues that might require policy changes are made by top executives at the company. Candela told reporters that Facebook increasingly was using artificial intelligence to find offensive material. It is "an algorithm that detects nudity, violence, or any of the things that are not according to our policies," he said.
That title belongs to Deep Blue Sea, director Renny Harlin's 1999 sci-fi/action/horror combo about an underwater research lab whose residents become hunted by a trio of genetically modified super-sharks. It's part haunted-house tale, part undersea-slasher flick, and part big-ensemble disaster movie, full of high-velocity attacks and ceaseless, remorseless sharks. But what makes Deep Blue Sea so much fun is what happens after Jackson gets grabbed by the giant mako, slammed to the floor, and dragged into the sea. Good shark movies need good, sharky deaths, and Deep Blue Sea has a bunch.
A few days ago, I saw Eclipse, a pop video featuring a French band, at the offices of Saatchi and Saatchi, which runs the Cannes showcase and commissioned the AI entry. All the computer had been given was the track, Saatchi and Saatchi director of film and content Andy Gulliman said. A computer directs a pop video - and we are sniffy about its rather dated 1990s production values. But AI is advancing every day - and a decade from now, actors may find a computer sitting in the director's chair shouting: "Cut!"
"In a future with mass unemployment, young people are forced to sell blood." This is the opening line of a short film entered in this year's Sci-Fi London Film Challenge. It's dark, enigmatic, contemporary…and written by a computer. In fact, the film's entire screenplay is the work of a neural net trained on nothing but sci-fi scripts. Once the software completed the screenplay, it was up to the film's director and actors to make it into something someone might actually watch.
Plus, how one journalist is handling the challenges of reporting on the drone war in northwest Pakistan. Many journalists and writers have been tracking the Facebook story and its implications. Remote, difficult to navigate, the target or American drone strikes since 2004 and the site of the Pakistani army's Operation Zarb-e-azb - Waziristan in northwest Pakistan is a perilous assignment for any journalist. Talking us through this story are: Shahzad Akbar, director at the Foundation for Fundamental Rights; Madiha Tahir, director at'Wounds of Waziristan'; Noor Behram, Waziristan-based journalist; and Wajahat Khan, anchor at Dunya News.
His personal obsession is computational creative writing--poetry, prose, and now, screenwriting. National novel generation month (Nanogenmo), for example, is an annual event in which programmers write programs that write novels. Using NYU's high performance computing lab, he's trained software on poetry, prose, the dictionary, science fiction novels--the complete works of Noam Chomsky. The neural net behind "Sunspring" was trained on science fiction screenplays, and generated the script after being fed prompts provided by the contest.
Impeccably made and drawn closely from historical research, the film tells the relatively little-known story of Mildred and Richard Loving, a couple whose case, which eventually went to the Supreme Court, both exposed the racial divides of the time and helped bridge them. The couple then spends years in Washington, D.C., away from their families, before moving home (now with three young children) and eventually seeking validation via a legal case that reached the Supreme Court. On one side are the movie's critics, who say that "Loving" does not sufficiently represent the ambient hatred an interracial couple would experience at the time in the South. Even critics of the movie will admit that the film addresses topical issues, whether it's institutional forms of racism, the quiet pain of otherness or issues far removed from skin color, such as the transgender bathroom controversy, a modern echo of the same cultural argument.