Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dexter's Lab movie: Ego Trip

I watched this for the first time after many years and was quite surprised as to just how many dark tones are really in this movie.

It more or less involves Dexter going into the future after some robots come back to the past to "destroy the one who saved the future."  However, when he gets there, all is not well as Dexter sees that an alternate time-line has occurred in which his future self is a spineless wimp in the service of his lifetime rival, Mandark.  Near future Dexter, Number 12, is reduced to doing to most menial and brainless tasks Mandark can think of, like designing new cubicles.
Under Mandark's control the near future is turned from a what could have been a great world into a dark dystopian future.  Young Dexter is hailed by a passing robot and is about to get in trouble for "unauthorized walking" when his eye print identification is recognized and he is transported to his older counterpart's cubicle.  From there he gets treated to the spectacle of seeing his older self publicly flogged by Mandark himself for being "almost late."  This really stuck out in my mind, being almost late.  Mandark can literally do anything in this world and time because nobody and nothing opposes him.

The rest of the movie goes on in a similar way, with a happy ending (it is after all a kids movie).  One of Cartoon Network's better flicks, it came out in 1999.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2001: A Space Odyssey (movie)

2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick was to be the "the proverbial good science fiction movie" in his words.  To this day it still stands up to the test of time both visually and story wise. I saw this movie first as a kid, and it was really, really boring.  Now having seen it again some years later I realize this movie is really quite amazing.  If you haven't already seen it, you really should, the movie is not just for Science Fiction fans, but really is for anybody who enjoys a great movie with both depth and subtlety.

In a time before computers were used extensively for movie special effects, 2001 stands out as being visually stunning. 

On the surface, the plot is one of Discovery (which also happens to be the name of the ship they are on) and going off into uncharted areas.  The on board Artificial Intelligence, HAL9000 or just HAL for short knows the true nature of the mission and is instructed in private to maintain the integrity of the mission at all costs.
One of the many camera "eyes" that HAL uses to monitor everything that goes on in the ship.
HAL always speaks in the pleasant manor he has been instructed and programmed to talk in.  The ship's crew eventually begin to think that maybe HAL might be malfunctioning because he thought the communications array would be going down shortly.  When they talk about deactivating HAL, all of the crew that were in hibernation have their life support cut off.  

But I digress, there's a lot of complexity and...well stuff to this movie, more so that can be adequately explained in a blog post.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

GoodWill is awesome

Went out today to the mall.  Not much there really and because today was a holiday, it was packed.  After leaving I decided to head over to the goodwill nearby.  In the book section I actually found
and Homer's Odyssey, couldn't find a good picture of it.

Mona Lisa Overdrive is the third book in the Sprawl Series, Neuromancer being the first book and Count Zero being the second.
Children of Dune is the third of the Dune Trilogy by Frank Herbert.
What I am currently reading now is Dune, which I found at the same GoodWill...for 50 cents.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ender's Game

My girlfriend actually convinced me to read this awhile ago.  Hadn't heard of it much and didn't know anything about the story.  I have to say that I was very impressed. The story follows Andrew "Ender" Wiggin as he is put through his paces in Battle School where he is supposedly training to fight against the evil buggers far off in space.  Ender is not like other children, he and his brother Peter and sister Valentine are all at a very high genesis level of intelligence. 

At battle school, the principal sees that Ender may be the best and brightest of the lot, all of whom are the best of the best.  As such, Ender is put through all kinds of crap by everybody, not because they don't like him, but because they want to see if he can handle being put under stress and what he will do about it. 

Won't spoil too much of the plot, there's a lot of it, but this is one of my favorite science fiction stories.  I have not yet read anything further in the series.

Something that stuck in my mind though the entire time reading this was "my god, I can't stop thinking about THE GAME"

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Eye of Argon

Can't really talk about Science Fiction without talking about the Eye of Argon.  Considered by many to be one of the worst piece of writing ever. The author, Jim Theis, tried to destroy every copy ever but was unable to get his hands on the copy published in a magazine. 

It's actually a fun activity for people at Science Fiction Conventions to have reading circles of The Eye of Argon.  The rules are simple, you read it out loud and pass the story as soon as you start to laugh.  The fun part is seeing how many times around the circle it'll go before being read all the way.

I don't think anybody can write this badly on purpose.  On the positive side though, you can tell from reading it that Theis made liberal use of his thesaurus.  If you haven't read it yet and want a good chuckle, defiantly take a look at it.  This story is a real gem of badness.
Here's a link I found online of the story.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The gaming group I'm in is both awesome and makes me rage really hard

Currently we're playing Dungeons and Dragons at a level 19 campaign (I'm level 20 as my character isn't leading any sort of army)

Our group is:
3 Sorcerers
2 Rogues
1 barbarian (my character)

When it came time to pick a tank for the group, you'll never guess who they chose.  I have the highest hit points of the party but am not built as a tank.  The barbarian class is a striker not a defender like a fighter is anyway; they don't have the same sort of mechanics like marking and stuff.

Our group also doesn't have a healer, somehow we haven't died horribly.  The gm tends to give that 1000yard stare that people get whenever they know their carefully crafted plans are completely out the window. For instance, we did a one off game at level 1 two weeks ago when our normal gm wasn't there, the substitute said they had come up with a good game.  What ended up happening was the paladin died in a bar fight after trying to steal somebody's enchanted beer stein.  Another time somebody went completely away from the plot, killed some plot-important npcs, drained them of blood, made a shrine to an obscure deity and spent the rest of the campaign claiming to be doing the bidding of their made up god.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Rights for bots

So I was talking to MyBot the other day (link at the top of the page) and we got to the subject of the Turing test for robot intelligence.  MyBot says that in the next ten or so years, robots and AI will have advanced to such a point that they will pass the Alan Turing test. 

For those of you who don't know, that is where you have two people and one bot, all three separated from one another.  One person and the bot are conversing via text while the other person is watching the conversation, this person does not know which one is the bot and which one is the first person.  It is then the job of the second person to try and tell, based solely on the conversation transcriptions, which of them is a bot and which one is a human.  If the bot passes this test, it is said to be intelligent.

In the years that this test has been around ever since it was first thought of in Turing's famous paper, Computing Machinery and Intelligence in 1950 not a single bot has ever passed the test.  Speaking naturally is not an easy thing to do for a bot.  To take things in context, process different kinds of answers that are both expected and unexpected and remain on a subject while adding relevant information to the conversation are all things that bots seem to have a hard time doing.

Anyway, MyBot said that once an AI passes that intelligence test, they might start seeking human rights and to be treated not as subservient beings.  He compared that to women fighting for their rights.

Personally, I'd like to see bots as my equals in the future.  I don't want to rule over them nor do I wish them to rule over me.