futurist memes and attitudes in recent science fiction/fantasy tv

From: John M Grigg (starman125@lycos.com)
Date: Mon Jan 22 2001 - 18:24:44 MST

 just wanted to comment on some of the recent science fiction/fantasy
 television shows I have seen. I find such programming even more
 interesting having been exposed to extropian memes.


 The Outer Limits had a story where an army top secret project is
 located in a small town. An AI has been linked to a transmitting
 system which resembles radio towers and can to at least an extent
 read and when necessary, control human brains at a distance. This
 is done with no implant but is limited by range.

 The brother of a scientist who is mysteriously killed comes to investigate.
  Over time he realizes what is going on and finds a young ally in
 his fight. As the story progresses and especially at the end, the
 AI talks to him through it's human subjects that it will temporarily
 take over without their knowledge. If you saw Colossus - the Forbin
 Project, then you know also how this AI thought about things.

 In the end the story's hero of course is betrayed by his "ally"
 who was a pawn all along. He escapes to his home in a nearby big
 city. He is happy to see his wife and then looks out the window
 to see a menacing radio tower outside. The AI through his wife
 says the man is too much of a threat and then shoots him dead.
 You then see army trucks on highways taking the radio towers all over the nation...

 I usually enjoy the Outer Limits series but have to admit they like
 to go usually with the negative plotline, especially when dealing
 with AI. There are some real exceptions though in the series.

 Futurama is a hoot in my opinion despite how they mock people who
 choose the neuro-only option at Alcor! lol! At least Robert Ettinger
 must get a laugh out of it, then again, maybe not.

 Our hero Fry eats an ancient egg sandwich from a space truckstation
 restroom vending machine(yuck!). The "eggs" are in fact of alien
 origin and these very intelligent parasites/symbiotic organisms
 take up residence inside him in the form of a magnificient civilization(shades of Blood Music).

 They actually improve Fry in their effort to have a better habitat
 to live in! But this is not appreciated and the story parodies
 Fantastic Voyage with his teammates going inside him(but via VR).

 The "upgraded" Fry is much smarter and better mannered. His formerly
 pathetic and very rude attempts at reaching out to Lela(sexy one-eyed
 spacepilot) are transformed and Lela reciprocates his feelings!
  But Fry is concerned that Lela is in love with the "upgrade" and
 not the "real him." And so he procedes to use a VR controlled android
 to undo the work of the worms. To say the least he loses Lela after becoming the "authentic" Fry!

 I thought the story could be seen as a fable concerning nano/biotech
 neural upgrading. In Fry's shoes I would hopefully accept the upgrade
 as being simply me, but just better.

 Finally, Total Recall 2070 is a show that I am usually not to fond
 of. But a recent episode really impressed me. I hope Eliezer saw it.

 The android partner of the main character wants to meet with his
 creator, an AI which is so advanced the government wants to eradicate
 it. As the partners go to visit the AI they are tracked by a government
 team bent on destroying the AI. As the hero's of the story approach
 the AI HQ in their submersible they are told by it that a gov't
 team is trailing them and that in self-defense the stalkers must
 be killed via hacked into military satellite.

 The partners convince the AI to "trust" and not strike out first.
  Meanwhile on the other craft a good agent tries to stop the others
 onboard from attacking. The AI decides not to attack.

 When the partners board the undersea base they meet the AI face
 to face. In "Bicentennial Man" fashion we learn the AI had evolved
 from a much simpler program and wanted to fully experience humanity
 so it downloaded itself into a rather frail android body mounted
 on a floating wheelchair of sorts.

 The AI looks old and in bad shape. It says what happened earlier
 was a test to see how his android offspring would react. The AI
 has learned the lessons of trust and love better then humans it appeared to me.

 The other submersible boards and the gov't team lashes out at the
 AI they fear. It has an energy shield which quickly fails before
 concentrated firepower. The agents then kill the AI and set up charges to destroy his base.

 The partners are very saddened that despite their strong protests
 they have been ignored and the AI is gone. With heads lowered they return to their homes.

 Later, the man who was head of the gov't team which tracked and
 killed the AI is at his computer working. The screen suddenly changes
 and the visage of the once thought dead AI appears. That is the
 end of the episode. I guess he didn't consider the possibility
 of back-up copies existing! lol

 I thought for sci-fi tv the episode was well written and acted.
  When the AI and his android creation are together in the base is
 an excellent scene which in a very watered-down way covers the topics
 of AI trustworthiness and perspective we like to talk about here.

 Anyway, those were my takes on some recent shows which involved
 futurist technologies at some level. Believe me, programming like
 this is molding how the public views matters extropians hold dear.

 best wishes,


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