No spoilers this week! Just looking at all the scientific discoveries of the past decade and how that has or hasn’t played into the scifi we’ve covered.
1. Privacy & Cyberpunk
… and the illusion thereof. Snowden and the shattering of the illusion of privacy in the digital age. The world becoming the less awesome-looking irl version of cyberpunk. Workers as a resources. Torture toilets.
2. Machine learning
The biggest huge development in the pats decade which underlies every other things. Wowzers. Realizing the importance of the data going in, so you don’t get racist policing or image recognition. The availability of open tools, compute time, and learning resources.
3. Genetic editing
CRISPR! What will eventually result from this one?
Water on Mars! So much more water than we thought. Greater accuracy in portrayals of space settlement. Increasing private industry in space.
Hey, an update on Einstein: still correct! Also… Gravity waves! Higgs-Boson! Imaging a black hole. The contributions of computing and storage technologies.
39. Human history
Confirmation of Sapiens and Neanderthal interbreeding in remaining modern humans. Discovering more extinct human varieties.
What happened to AR glasses!? The state of wearables. Recognizing that there are senses to augment other than our visual system.
It is! And also we’re old. But honestly this is still unironically the best thing. The legacy of the Matrix. Falling back in love with the Wachowskis. Addressing the sequels.
The Matrix as cyberpunk. Comparing against other touchstones. Philip K Dick. William Gibson’s review from the time.
When I began to write NEUROMANCER, there was no “cyberpunk”. THE MATRIX is arguably the ultimate “cyberpunk” artifact. Or will be, if the sequels don’t blow. I hope they don’t, and somehow have a hunch they won’t, but I’m glad I’m not the one who has to worry about it.
-William Gibson lol
Old school computing
Damn kids and their pixels. CRT displays and low/high persistence phosphorus and how we wound up irl with the bright glowing green text aesthetic that informed The Matrix. Eye fatigue back in the day. Computer-touchers. Staring at people at work for fun and profit. The Solarized color schemes.
Taking the red pill. How easy it actually really is to explain what The Matrix is. Neo is a giant, slimy baby. The inefficiencies of using humans as batteries when you have fusion power. Grass, tastes bad.
Benevolent AI Dictators
But WHAT IF The Matrix actually has humanity’s best interests in mind? The possibility that they really tried to give us our utopia.
Plasticity and your brain’s willingness to accept new input schemes. Designing The Matrix with a “failsafe” so the humans are unadapted to their physical bodies irl. Acquired synaesthesia. Supernumerary limbs and phallic cartwheels. Upside down goggles and adaptation to a new “up.” Permanence in sensory adaptations.
Hacking The Matrix
Bendable physics. The difficulty with bending or breaking the rules of computing hardware.
Well, we don’t normally do this sorta thing, but oh man this was so good! What the film is about, how it is about, and why it was so special. Appreciating those who do the best work of making history relatable (coughDan Carlin cough).
Film degradation. Scratching, exposure, shrinkage, physical tearing. The crapshoot that is video frame rates in early 20th century film footage. Crank cameras and gearing and compressed-air constant-framerate cameras. Correcting for all of this and the challenge of bringing it all up to a standard 24 fps.
Film is an illusion
The optical illusion that we perceive as movement on a screen. Persistence of vision. Video framerates and the “refresh rate” of the human eye. Motion interpolation as an offense against art and all things good. Tom Cruise fighting the good fight. Motion interpolation as a really neato technology which is actually really cool when not on by default on new televisions. Motion interpolation in VR or video games.
Historian types and objections to the “enhancements” introduced by the filmmakers. Art vs education and the importance of relatability. Modernizing history. Colorization. 3d-ification. Finding it hard to complain about digital enhancement and remastering which leaves the original materials untouched.
They Shall Not Grow Screenings (Jan/Feb 2019): Fathom Events
They Shall Not Grow Old (Digital pre-order): YouTube | iTunes
“YOU WON’T BELIEVE YOUR EYES!” by Smarter Every Day: YouTube
Not a lot of Doctor Who experience at the table here. Recognition of the Moffat era. Finding a single, self-contained Who unit to use as an entrée. James McAvoy.
Pedantic note: the millenium wouldn’t really start until 2001. Colbert gets to be the jerk for once.
Numeronyms. Alternate terms: CDC, FADL. How we got here (there, then?). Limits on data storage and memory over time that make two-digit date storage actually seem kinda reasonable. Y2K38, aka the Unix millnium bug. The horrors of datetime in software and can you imagine the pain of writing this code for time travel. Standard datetime epochs: unix epoch, planet epoch, and time-since-the-big-bang epoch. We’re gonna need a lot more memory.
Doctor Who has got a lot of heart. But also he has literally two hearts. Animals irl on Earth with multiple “hearts.” Octopus (3), hagfish (4). The role of auxiliary “hearts” in these animals. Human heart grafting in heterotopic aka “piggy-back” heart transplants.
The history of time-measurement accuracy. From sundials to Hugens’ pendulum to modern atomic clocks. Appreciating GPS and understanding how atomic clocks are integral to their function.
Creepy body horror. Fingers in holes. This is kinda hot.
The video game industry
Gaming in film. Brainscan. The video game bubble. E.T. The Video Game landfill debacle. AAA Game budgets before people took the industry seriously. AAA Auteur creators of the past. Auteur creators in indie games now.
Wooden cannons! Wow! Harvesting ammunition from people’s mouths. Bio-based squirt guns as a reasonable alternative. Blood-squirting lizards.
Biological computing: mechanical, electrical, and chemical. Quantum supremacy. Nipple interfaces and umbilicals.
Neural interface placements. Spinal connections and how to interact with the sensory loop. Bodily orifice security defenses. Sphincters vs meatuses.
But how do we tell what is real anyway!? The power of storytelling, even when you know it’s not real. Railroading. Milgram experiment the game.
War Stories by Ars Technica: YouTube
GDC Classic Game Postmortems: YouTube
What: In the movie Transcendence: Johnny Depp pretty much becomes the lawnmower man. On the show: we run off into the weeds and ramble about the singularity. 🙂 Directed by: Wally Pfister Starring: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara
What: In Hackers a gaggle of innocent Hackers are framed for extorting an oil company and “hack the planet.” Bad guy rides a skateboard. In the 90’s. Directed by: Iain Softley Starring: Johnny Lee MIller, Angelina Jolie, Matthew Lillard, Jesse Bradford, Fisher Stevens, Penn Jillette, Marc Anthony