Making it so for M. Picard

July 28th, 2015

I was sure I'd posted about this theory about Star Trek before, but apparently not:

patio11 529 days ago

A heretical thought I have had about Star Trek: the Federation has no need for Star Fleet. They're fantastically wealthy and cannot meaningfully gain from trade in physical items. They're not just singularity-esque wealthy relative to the present-day US, they're equally more secure. Nobody kills mass numbers of Federation citizens. That occasionally happens on poor planets elsewhere. Sucks but hey poverty sucks.

So why have a Star Fleet? Because Jean Luc Picard is a Federation citizen, and he wouldn't be happy as other than a starship captain. It's a galaxy-spanning Potempkin village to make him happy. Why would they do that? You're thinking like a poor person. Think like an unfathomably rich person. They do it because they can afford to. He might have had a cheaper hobby, like say watching classic TV shows, but the Federation is so wealthy that Starfleet and a TV set both round to zero.

This makes Star Fleet officers into in-universe Trekkies: a peculiar subculture of the Federation who are tolerated because despite their quirky hobbies and dress they're mostly harmless. Of course if you're immersed in the subculture, Picard looks like something of a big shot. We get that impression only because the camera is in the subculture, not in the wider Federation, which cares about the Final Frontier in the same way that the United States cares about the monarch butterfly: "We probably have somebody working on that, right? Bright postdoc somewhere? Good, good."

[Via @m1k3y]

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Robbie

July 25th, 2015

Robbie – A Short Film By Neil Harvey.

Set 6000 years the future, Robbie charts the existential reflections of an aging robot drifting alone through space on the last of his battery life.

[Via fuck yeah, science fiction!]

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The Fourth Wall

July 22nd, 2015

Photographer Klaus Frahm has assembled a series of photographs of European theatres as seen from the rear of the stage:

Isn't that an auditorium over there?

I find the way that from this angle the auditorium seems like such an afterthought – a mere add-on to the real functionality of the building – fascinating.

[Via swissmiss]

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'Googling StackOverflow', surely?

July 21st, 2015

Computer Programming To Be Officially Renamed "Googling Stackoverflow":

Washington DC – The IEEE have produced a report today where they strongly recommend that from now on, the discipline of Computer Programming should be officially renamed to "Googling Stackoverflow". […]

[Via @AlecMuffett]

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Rudeness to robots

July 18th, 2015

Ben Hammersley, on sharing a house with AIs with differing personalities:

It's a little wrinkle in what is really a miraculous device, but it's a serious thing: The Amazon Echo differs from Siri in that it's a communally available service. Interactions with Alexa are available to, and obvious to, everyone in the house, and my inability to be polite with her has a knock-on effect. My daughter is too young to speak yet, but she does see and hear all of our interactions with Alexa. I worry what sort of precedent we are setting for her, in terms of her own future interactions with bots and AIs as well as with people, if she hears me being forced into impolite conversations because of the limitations of her household AI's interface. It's the computing equivalent of being rude to waitresses. We shouldn't allow it, and certainly not by lack of design. Worries about toddler screen time are nothing, compared to future worries about not inadvertently teaching your child to be rude to robots.

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

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Doesn't everyone do this?

July 18th, 2015

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One-Minute Time Machine

July 10th, 2015

One-Minute Time Machine doesn't outstay its' welcome:

[Via MetaFilter]

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Advantageous

July 8th, 2015

The other week I made a note to myself to watch out for a recent science fiction film called Advantageous, an expansion of a previous short of the same name.1 This morning I came across a copy of the original short film on YouTube, and it's really very good:

Now I'm definitely going to watch out for the feature length version.

  1. I found out about the film via a Mike D'Angelo review at The Dissolve. Sad news today that The Dissolve has ceased publishing. Dammit, not only did they have a host of excellent reviewers who produced readable, insightful reviews and a range of essays and news stories that catered for a wide range of interests, but they also put out a pretty decent podcast. At least as importantly, in the space of not quite two years they'd attracted the second-best community of commenters of any site I visit regularly, second only to the folks who make MetaFilter so good.

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Project Seen

June 27th, 2015

Project "Seen": a typeface that redacts your words as you type them.

Not a Secret

[Via Subtraction.com]

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Coda

June 24th, 2015

Coda:

A lost soul stumbles drunken through the city. In a park, Death finds him and shows him many things.

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