Thursday, July 23, 2009

Recent Items of Interest (Assassination Bureaus, "Daybreak" Critique, Neuroscience and McGriddles, Strong AI, Scalzi on Global B.O.)

Recent items of interest:

* An article in Counterpunch by ex-Lawrence Livermore physicist Manuel Garcia, Jr. referencing the Jack London novel The Assassination Bureau (and the subsequent 1969 film) in its discussion of the Dick Cheney assassination ring story recently broken-like so many other stories of this sort-by Seymour Hersh. (I thought his mentioning it was particularly cool since I often think just about no one else remembers the movie, which I mentioned in my article on the appeal of steampunk in the Internet Review Of Science Fiction this month.) While you're there you might want to check out a few other pieces, Counterpunch (co-edited by Alexander Cockburn; you might remember my mentioning him in my review of Toby Young's memoir a while back) never having a shortage of interesting and thought-provoking articles.

* An epic essay dissecting "Daybreak," the lousy conclusion to the mediocre Battlestar Galactica, courtesy of Usenet pioneer, founder of "the world's first dot-com," and Electronic Frontier Foundation chairman Brad Templeton. (The issue would seem to have been all talked out by now, but the piece is still worth a look.)

* A piece by Jonah Lerner on "The Neuroscience of McGriddles," courtesy of the always interesting Futurismic. (I wonder how long we're going to continue pretending to be astounded that the human body is hard-wired to eat.)

* More promises about the near-term prospects for "strong" AI, this one from the director of the Blue Brain Project, Henry Markham-specifically the creation of a functioning artificial human brain in 10 years' time. Can they deliver the goods, or is this just another overhyped claim we'll soon enough forget about? The headline over at Futurismic captures the outlook of those who've heard it all before quite well: "Silicon mindslice: artificial brains (still) 'ten years away.'" (Either way, it looks like we're in that historical space where the claims of the Singularitarians will start to be seriously tested.)

* John Scalzi's reminder that there is a global box office, one which doesn't always neatly reflect cinematic performance in the U.S.-with Terminator: Salvation and Hayao Miyazaki's movies providing object lessons. (In case you're curious, the grosses for Ice Age 3 and the film version of Angels and Demons have been even more international-skewing than T4, so as to make them the 2nd and 3rd biggest hits this year when the world stats are crunched, even though they're only 9th and 13th biggest in the U.S. so far this year.)

No comments:

Subscribe Now: Feed Icon