Monthly Archives: September 2013

The porous borders of science fiction as discussed by Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem discussed the porous borders between science fiction and “the mainstream,” how contemporary fiction acknowledges (or doesn’t) technology and capitalism, and wanting to write about his grandmother’s sex life.

Interview with Ed Finn of the Center for Science and the Imagination

Great interview on The Conversation with Ed Finn. Finn is the Director of the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State, which was co-founded with Neal Stephenson.

“My conversation with Ed focuses on two interrelated subjects: dreams and narratives. Are we, as a society, adequately dreaming about the future or have we outsourced our dreams to distant experts? Do we have adequate time for dreaming? Has increasing specialization made it difficult for the kind of interdisciplinary thinking needed for the creation of radical new ideas?”

Empathy for military robots could affect outcomes on the battlefield

“They would say they were angry when a robot became disabled because it is an important tool, but then they would add ‘poor little guy,’ or they’d say they had a funeral for it,” Carpenter said. “These robots are critical tools they maintain, rely on, and use daily. They are also tools that happen to move around and act as a stand-in for a team member, keeping Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel at a safer distance from harm.”

“You don’t want someone to hesitate using one of these robots if they have feelings toward the robot that goes beyond a tool,” she said. “If you feel emotionally attached to something, it will affect your decision-making.”

Full article on PBS

iPhone app describes colors to blind man

“The next day, I went outside. I looked at the sky. I heard colors such as “Horizon,” “Outer Space,” and many shades of blue and gray. I used color cues to find my pumpkin plants, by looking for the green among the brown and stone. I spent ten minutes looking at my pumpkin plants, with their leaves of green and lemon-ginger. I then roamed my yard, and saw a blue flower. I then found the brown shed, and returned to the gray house. My mind felt blown. I watched the sun set, listening to the colors change as the sky darkened.”

My First Week with the iPhone by Austin Seraphin

Black Mirror — dark, twisted, satirical sci fi show

I want to recommend an amazing British television show called “Black Mirror” to everyone in the class. Each episode (6 in total) has a different cast, and feels a bit like Twilight Zone narratively. Stories range from very near-future scenarios, to far-future ones. Some particularly interesting technologies depicted in the show include a grain implanted in your head that records all of your life for playback whenever you want, and artificial intelligence recreations of dead loved ones.

The first episode is both a bit weird and not particularly sci fi (just to warn you) but the rest of the series is amazing.

Not available on on TV or streaming online in America (yet), so you’ll have to find it some other way… :)