Posts Tagged ‘Doctor Who’

4 Signs Your AI Companion is Becoming Sentient — Friday Four

Jarvis AI Companion MarvelA great way to interface with your new technology is to give it a little personality. Make it responsive, reactive, maybe even predictive, and next thing you know it’s catering to your needs before you’re even aware of them. An Artificial Intelligence, or AI companion is a great option for those remote planetary outposts or long-term space voyages, keeping you sane when you’d otherwise be alone. But there’s a funny tendency with these sorts of AI to become far, far more than they were originally programmed to be, and they’re almost as likely to go crazy evil as they are to become a benevolent buddy. That’s a pretty convincing argument to at least keep aware of their development, so here are 4 indicative signs that your digital companion is evolving beyond its limitations.

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4 Questionable Means of Cheating Death–Friday Four

The shadow of the reaper looms long over the human race. As mankind’s oldest foe, death is an opponent not to be taken lightly. And in fear of our very nature, a few terrified souls such as yourself have set out on a desperate search for a way to avoid fate. I could say be careful what you wish for, but I know that’ll fall on deaf ears. With time standing against you and old age eroding everything you wish to save, it’s pretty clear that you’ll take any Faustian bargain which poses a potential solution.

Instead, let me walk you through some of your options–although be warned, most of them have less than pleasant side effects. Here are 4 of the more attainable, if highly questionable, means of cheating death.

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The Philosophy of Good Sci-Fi

This week saw the premiere of APB, yet another in a long line of police procedurals with a thin veneer of sci-fi slapped on top (the thinnest yet), the third on FOX in particular following the abysmal receptions of Almost Human and Minority Report (still can’t believe that got the green light). The basic premise is a Libertarian power fantasy: a tech billionaire, personally affected by crime, takes over the incompetently run police precinct by throwing his money around against the city’s politicians and turns it into his privately run force that works perfectly through the use of apps and drones and tech buzzword #37 not found. Admittedly, the premise annoys me on its face; this kind of billionaire “altruism” is just not true to reality, and by forcing this into the setting of a real, modern city like Chicago, it just makes the difference that much more stark. Yes, I’m aware it’s “inspired” by a real event, and the show had a female cop to voice the audience’s potential concerns in the pilot…

But, ironically, that’s exactly where it falls apart. In an attempt to head these off, they fall back on standard police tactics even where it doesn’t make sense, eschewing the tech advantage that they’ve built for “experience and street smarts beat all.” Trust me, the show had plenty of other issues in terms of acting and storytelling, but if it could commit to the idea at its core, it wouldn’t fall into the same category as its predecessors. Because after looking at dozens of these sci-fi TV shows over the last few years, there’s a pattern that’s emerged:

The longer a show has run, the more likely it is to have a clear philosophy to its story. Shows that aren’t founded on a core belief inevitably flounder and fail.

Why? Let’s take a look.

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4 Tips to Avoid Body-Snatching–Friday Four

A shockingly common adaptation for life among the stars, body-snatching is a problem that any would-be explorer needs to consider before setting off. Even if the alien being in question doesn’t set its sights on your body directly, it can still be a serious issue that your ship has to deal with; after all, you wouldn’t want to accidentally facilitate some kind of subversive invasion of another planet, slowly occurring behind the scenes, would you? I mean, could you imagine if the planet’s leadership just suddenly went totally nuts for no apparent reason? Like, if they just started making nonsense declarations and lying about things you’d just seen them say and do with your own eyes. It’d be so obvious that something was seriously wrong, and yet no one seems to notice this suspiciously body snatcher-like agenda…

Oh, sorry. Maybe that just happens sometimes? Either way, here are 4 points to consider when dealing with aliens that can steal the appearance and/or minds of another.

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4 Means of Sci-Fi Punishment–Friday Four

Crime is a fact of life in any civilization (well, almost), be it a wretched hive of scum and villainy or the upstanding Federation. And where there’s crime, there’s laws preventing it and punishments for breaking those laws. But with all this futuristic technology at our disposal, surely we can come up with something a little more interesting than steel bars and heavy fines, right? So here are 4 ways to deal with the convicts of the future, ensuring that they serve out their time… although whether these forms of sci-fi punishment are actually worse than rotting in a jail cell today is up for debate.

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4 Surprising Technologies for Your Next Superweapon–Friday Four

death-star-firingSo you’ve got some very big dreams of destruction to fulfill, and shopping around for Death Stars is a little bit tricky. I mean, there aren’t many manufacturers, and there’s sort of a de facto monopoly on who gets to own one… it’s hard for your average Joe Supervillain to get his hands on the kind of weapon. And hey, we might be mad scientists, but that doesn’t mean we’re all mad inventors, right? But fear not, my ambitious world-conquering friend. Superweapons are actually a lot easier to come by than you’ve probably been led to believe. Giant lasers aren’t the be-all, end-all of earth shattering kabooms. So here are 4 sci-fi technologies you might not have realized double as great superweapons (in order of difficulty to obtain, not destructive force).

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A Dismal Reflection: Apocalyptic Alternate Realities

turn-left-titanicWhen it comes to TV, things are always at risk of getting stale; if a series has a twenty episode season, for example, then a savvy viewer might realize that the lead actor’s character won’t die in episode 10. Characters rarely die at all, in fact, and permanent injuries mean permanent makeup (just ask Coulson how long he went one-handed). Even sets are rarely destroyed, since so much money goes into building them; with so little seemingly at stake (usually), it can be easy for the audience to stop seeing the enemies as threatening. How can you show the danger posed by our enemies without upsetting the status quo? Enter sci-fi’s favorite trick, the parallel universe/alternate timeline, where events and circumstances differ from the primary setting of the show in specific ways. By using these familiar-yet-strange settings, the writers can explore facets of the characters and the world in which they live that would usually be unavailable: how they might react to the destruction of their home, or the death of a critical character. Better still, since this alternate world is only around for an episode or two, massive changes to the status quo can be made, giving the writers a chance to explore apocalyptic themes that are usually out of reach.

What? No, it’s an utter coincidence I’m writing about apocalypses the same week as the election…

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4 Clues the New Futuristic Drug is Deadly–Friday Four

TekWar Futuristic DrugLife’s hard in a dystopian world, and sometimes you really just need any escape you can get. That’s why there’s no shortage of new and exciting drugs being created in these kinds of places–or at least, they always sound exciting. A lot of the time, these futuristic drug offerings aren’t quite what you’re promised, and come with some major downsides. The next time someone offers you a first hit for free, pause and think over the points below before you wind up the latest victim of a half-baked narcotics fad.

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4 Methods to Take Out the Master Computer–Friday Four

Tron Master Control ProgramWelcome to the automatic society. We all knew that machines were going to take our places in the workforce, however gradually, doing the work that we humans didn’t want to do. The list of what we didn’t want to do kept growing, though, and soon the computers were doing jobs that no one ever expected them to–like running the world, for example. It’s quite a bit different from the Robot Revolt–we gladly handed over the reins. For some people, it’s a paradise, where no one has to do anything they don’t want to do. Their days are free to be filled with fun and joy, spending all their time on friends, family, and entertainment.

Others, however, view the machine with suspicion… have we sacrificed something innately human for a life of luxury? Are people losing their drive and curiosity, becoming complacent with the status our civilization has reached? Does mankind die not with a nuclear bang, as we once feared, but a slow whimper as we become so distracted by what we’ve built that we cease looking outward?

Not if you have anything to say about it. It’s time to free human civilization from this pampered tyranny–time to take out the Master Computer that rules this land.

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4 Ways to Conceal Your Immortality–Friday Four

Jack ImmortalWho wants to live forever? Some people don’t get a choice… and it looks like you’re one of them. Being “blessed” with immortality comes with all kinds of crazy problems that normal people wouldn’t have to deal with. Like making you a local curiosity, at best, or being studied, poked and prodded (or worse) by scientists who want to find out just how you’ve done it at worst. If you’re lucky enough to have been granted eternal youth as well, then people are going to catch on sooner or later. If not, well, you have a whole basket of other problems to worry about…

No, what’s best for you is to take this secret to your grave–so to speak, anyway. And to help you with that, here are 4 potential options to help you keep out of the public eye and live a quiet, normal (if exceedingly long) life.

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