If you know your Science Fiction, and maybe even if you don’t, you recognize the iconic line from the HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL was the artificial intelligence who, while incredibly smart, was driven to violence by the directives provided by his human creators.
Artificial intelligence is a staple of science fiction, and it’s a trope that enables writers to examine what it means to be human, what it means to create life and what our responsibility to that life we create actually is. And further, it enables us to tell stories about what that life might want to do to us in return.
There have been brilliant examples of stories in the AI genre. Colossus: The Forbin Project is a terrifying vision of what could happen if the tools of war are handed over to a machine intelligence designed to make war more efficient. The Terminator, with all it’s lean savagery, is another take on what happens when the machines come online and want control. Continue reading →
That was when the original Star Trek series aired on one of the only two channels that were available in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1966, and it was something we, as a family watched. I remember my mother being certain that the sight of one alien in the closing credits (Balok from The Corbomite Maneuver) would scare me too much, so she charged my sisters with distracting me so I wouldn’t see it.
Of course, when I finally did, I wasn’t bothered at all.
Star Trek truly entered my consciousness in the Seventies during first run syndication after school. When I rediscovered it, I would race home and hope it was one I hadn’t seen yet. Not that it mattered. I watched them over and over, poring over every detail, memorizing the look, the ideas, the performances. I tried over and over to build the Enterprise with my Lego. And this was back in the day when there weren’t any specially shaped blocks, just flat bits, rectangles and squares. My love for the show just continued to grow. Continue reading →
“People must be remembered Charlie, otherwise it’s as if they were never here at all. All we are are the people who remember us. If we go away, and everybody forgets we were ever here, its as if we never were.”
Have you ever revisited a movie you saw many, many years before? One that you remember loving, even though decades have passed and you can’t even remember when you saw it the first time? For me, this weekend, I found one of those movies again. Sweet November, starring Sandy Dennis and Anthony Newley. I have such vivid memories of loving it, and they were borne out when I watched it again tonight. The quote above imprinted on me somehow. I’m not sure if I loved it because it resonated with what I already believed, or if it was seeing the film and hearing those words that helped create the belief. Maybe it’s even more resonant now in the aftermath of my own brush with mortality. But it’s a lovely film. And it’s one I’ve taken in, one that has become part of who I am.