futurist technologies in science fiction television

From: John M Grigg (starman125@lycos.com)
Date: Mon Jan 22 2001 - 17:34:17 MST

I 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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