BSG: Field Lab for the Friendliness Problem

But how can it not know what it is? –Blade Runner

I think it is pretty dim to be offended by percieved Iraq analogy in BattleStar. I guess these are the same people that see dhimmitude in the bend of a blade of grass these days.

BSG is so much more. BSG asks the same question that Kikaku Kidotai (GitS II: Innosensu) and Blade Runner, and countless scifi series and novels ask, can a machine be human? Which is really a paraphrase of what does it mean to be human?
The questions about torture and suicide bombing; is it ever ok to torture? what if it is a machine? is it ok to suicide bomb? what if the explodees are machines (ie, not human)? are not just about Iraq. How impoverished must be the imaginations that only see the 2-D representation.

BSG is a sort of intellectual field lab for asking those question, which need to be answered in the next thirty years, because of the advent of the Singularity.

But also, I am interested in the Friendliness Problem for Strong AI, because, if we could solve the problem for AIs, couldn’t we solve it for homosapiens? Or, does it mean that as machines become more human they become less Friendly?

In Innosensu, when the gynoids kill their masters, it turns out that they can violate the prime directive because they have become part human thru the Locus Solus process of ghost-dubbing. The Bladerunner skin-jobs can kill their makers because they have become too human, ie just like us. But perhaps in the end, the skinjobs can be come more than human, as when Roy saved Detective Deckard. Or is that truly human? Is the saving grace of humanity compassion and mercy and love? And will we see the cylons achieve it too?

Galactica season 3 is already here

via AICN – you can watch the first 12 minutes of Galactica season 3 online at That’s a direct link to the video at scifi, via AICN.

Three words. Kara Thrace badass.

(UPDATE: the season 3 preview is now at

Some thoughts on the opener and the preceding “webisodes” below the fold… including why I might find myself rooting for the collaborators! Continue reading “Galactica season 3 is already here”

Ramadan roundup

ok so this time I have a good excuse for not posting! the first week of fasting is always the toughest 🙂 The funny thing is that I’ve found myself thinking about adding a food category to the blog (primarily a paean to Chipotle). But food blogging during Ramadan would be just masochistic, so it will have to wait until Eid.

There has been a lot of stuff going on though. Galactica season 3 starts soon, and there have been online “webisodes” at that have a very interesting prequel storyline to the season that really delves into the resistance fighter mentality – with our own sympathetic and loved characters making decisions that we would normally decry. It’s odd how I am willing to give a fictional character more slack and make excuses for their behavior that I condemn in the real world – like strong weapons in a shrine. Of course the Cylons are Evil Incarnate (or are they?) so the universe of Galactica is more black and white (or is it?).

Also the Intel Developer Forum is going on and has all sorts of awesome, sharikou-head-exploding stuff like 80-core chips, roadmaps to 45nm processing, and laser FSBs (from Day 1 alone). Anandtech has probably the best coverage. Yesterday during Day 2 they also talked about the Santa Rosa platform, one of my particular interests. One tidbit I’d missed earlier: the FSB clock frequency will also be adjustable, to further improve power management. Right now on the new Centrino platforms running Yonah/Merom, only CPU clock speeds adjust, but the FSB runs at full all the time. And there are even cooler innovations to reduce power that I won’t spoil. The promise of all-day computing gets stronger and stronger.

Shamus’ “DM of the Rings” comic is awesome. I almost choked with laughter at the whole “Leggo my ass” thing. It reminds me of Summoner Geeks – but better.

And Sugar is still losing to a demented penguin. Oh, the humanity!

Trek turns 40

40 years ago today, a legend was born.

The final frontier.
These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.
Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations.

To boldly go where no man has gone before.

It still sends a shiver down my spine.

Paramount is also releasing a new version of the classic series, with updated special effects. These are being done with taste – no Jar-Jars, and Spock doesn’t shoot first. But if you remember the DS9 episode “Trials and Tribble-ations“, you’ll appreciate just how much more beautiful the classic Enterprise was when rendered with realism and love.

Paramount hosted a conference call on Sep. 6th (AICN transcript) where Michael Okuda and others involved in the Special Edition answered questions about the project.

But who cares about a Q&A? See the re-rendered Enterprise in motion for yourself (MOV video file via AICN).

Dean Devlin talks Stargate sequels

AICN has an interview with Dean Devlin that touches on, among other things, the Stargate sequels.

QUINT: You mentioned on the panel that you finally have the rights back to make sequels to STARGATE. What was holding the rights up?

DEAN DEVLIN: It’s not that the rights have cleared up. The previous regimes at MGM have been very wary about doing the sequel movies. There’s a new group of people running MGM now and they’re all big science fiction fans. So I’ve been talking about doing the sequels with them. There is no deal in place yet to make these films and we’re only in the very early stages of discussion. But at least there seems to be genuine interest in continuing the franchise.

QUINT: Will the second film pick up with the same characters from the original, continuing that story?

(the answer is a spoiler, so the rest of the interview is below the fold) Continue reading “Dean Devlin talks Stargate sequels”

a dilemma?

The Prisoner is coming to the big screen? The choice of Chris Nolan as director is a good thing… but talk about risk. If this screws up it will make Gedo Senki’s impending suckage look great in comparison.

Interestingly, Haibane Renmei evokes many of the themes of the Prisoner, the most obvious being the parallel between Glie and the Village, and the Wall and the Rover preventing escape. I haven’t seen enough of The Prisoner to really comment in more detail.

I also note that the television show Lost seems to be deliberately evocative of aspects of The Prisoner as well. I don’t follow Lost as closely as I’d like either, but maybe someone else can comment.

Galactica on demand

Sci-Fi will be offering free downloads of past Galactica episodes, along with previews of new episodes:

NBC Universal Cable and Sci Fi Channel will debut never-before-seen recap special Battlestar Galactica: The Story So Far via free-on-demand and broadband prior to the premiere of the series’ third season on Sci Fi Oct. 6.

Beginning Aug. 28, viewers will have access to Battlestar Galactica: The Story So Far; select full-length episodes from seasons one and two; and a two-minute weekly sneak peek of upcoming episodes from the new season.

In related news, recall that there’s a Galactica prequel series named “Caprica” in development, which will be set 50 years prior to the present one. It’s going to be a “family drama set in the corporate world“, not an explicitly sci-fi premise apart from its setting. Well, the Cylons will be there as humanity’s handmaidens, though given that in the Galactica pilot we saw the old “man in suit” Cylon of the 70’s show in a museum case, one wonders what the Cylons in the Caprica show will look like…

Season 3 premieres on Sci Fi on October 6th.

Star Trek XI poster

wow. A single image reveals a lot about what – and when – the next Trek movie is going to be. Look below the fold. I considered the choice of JJ Abrams as director to be brilliant – it’s clear that he gets what made Star Trek so captivating the first time around; the characters, especially the Trek Trinity. The image brings a real mix of emotion and sentiment back with full force .. it is familiar, achingly familiar, and yet also full of promise at the same time. Continue reading “Star Trek XI poster”

The Dark Knight

Heath Ledger will be the Joker in the second Batman movie. I have to admit that my respect for Ledger grew quite a bit after seeing the movie Cassanova (which I went into with low expectations). I think that he’s going to bring some genuine style to the Joker, something that was sorely missing from the Nicholson era. In fact the best thing about this Batman franchise reboot is that the primary characters are more heroic overall – even the villains.

Stargate sequels?

Stargate DVDThe most magical thing about the original StarGate movie was how it took our own ancient history and intertwined it into something epic. It took the Erich von Daniken mythos and gave it a serious treatment, asking What IF? as only SF can do. And the result was a blast of a movie that the television spinoff never really rivaled.

Well, Dean Devlin is back and has plans for two sequels. Via AICN:

Devlin is currently in negotiations with MGM regarding the development of two STARGATE theatrical sequels. These would complete the trilogy originally planned by Devlin and then-partner (but still friend) Roland Emmerich – and would stand independently of television spin-offs STARGATE SG-1 and STARGATE ATLANTIS. Devlin indicates that original leads Kurt Russell and James Spader have already expressed interest in returning.

If memory serves, Devlin once suggested that STARGATE sequels would be different in tone and setting than the original film — each continuing an arcing storyline of humankind –VS- alien opportunists/overlords, but in divergent locals. Could be interesting to see where this goes…especially if issues like cultural connection are played upon as they were in first film. Wonder how the conceit might feel in today’s splintered world?

More details at SciFiWire.