An interview with Ursula K. Le Guin by TVAP (The Video Access Project) / The Creative Outlet, Inc.
Tagged with “science fiction” (334)
Climate change and population growth will combine in the twenty-first century to put an enormous load on humanity’s bio-infrastructural support system, the planet Earth. Kim Stanley Robinson argues that our current economic system undervalues both the environment and future human generations, and it will have to change if we hope to succeed in dealing with the enormous challenges facing us. Science is the most powerful conceptual system we have for dealing with the world, and we are certain to be using science to design and guide our response to the various crises now bearing down on us. A more scientific economics — what would that look like? And what else in our policy, habits, and values will have to change?
Winner of Hugo, Nebula and Locus Awards, Kim Stanley Robinson is best known for his award-winning Mars trilogy. He has published fifteen novels and several short stories collections, often exploring ecological and sociological themes. Recently, the US National Science Foundation has sent Robinson to Antarctica as part of their Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. In April 2011, Robinson presented his observations on the cyclical nature of capitalism at the Rethinking Capitalism conference, University of California, Santa Cruz. In 1984, he published his doctoral dissertation, The N…
Once humans start colonizing other planets, how will politics work between Earth and those who live offworld? Ariel is joined by author Annalee Newitz and linguist Nick Farmer—who works on the show the Expanse—to discuss science fiction’s portrayal of realistic space politics!
I Think You’re Interesting - Why 2001: A Space Odyssey is still one of the greatest films ever made, 50 years later | Listen via Stitcher Radio On Demand
Even if you haven’t seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick’s mind-melting 1968 science fiction epic, you probably know at least something about it. It’s one of those movies, like Star Wars or Citizen Kane, that has become so thoroughly dissolved into our pop culture that you’ll have heard of the villainous computer HAL or know the famed music cue (Richard Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra”) that plays over its most indelible images.
But how were those moments created? The story of 2001 is the story of an almost obsessive attention to detail, of a budget that almost completely destroyed the film’s studio, of an initial wave of terrible reviews that might have killed a lesser movie. At every step of the way along its production process (and even after its release), 2001 is a fascinating example of big-time moviemaking gone right.This week, Todd is joined first by Vox film critic Alissa Wilkinson to talk about 2001’s long legacy, then by author Michael Benson, whose book Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece is the definitive account of the making of the film, to talk about how this titanic achievement came to be.
Bruce Sterling at The Interval: The future is a kind of history that hasn’t happened yet. The past is a kind of future that has already happened.
The present moment vanishes before it can be described. Language, a human invention, lacks the power to fully adhere to reality.
We live in a very short now and here, since the flow of events in spacetime is mostly closed to human comprehension. But we have to say something about the future, since we have to live there. So what can we say? Being “futuristic” is a problem in metaphysics; it’s about getting language to adhere to an unknowable reality. But the futuristic quickly becomes old-fashioned, so how can the news stay news?
Bruce Sterling is a futurist, journalist, science-fiction author, and culture critic. He is the author of more than 20 books including ground-breaking science ficiton and non-fiction about hackers, design and the future. He was the editor in 01986 of Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology (1986) which brought the cyberpunk science fiction sub-genre to a much wider audience. He previous spoke for Long Now about "The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole" in 02004. His Beyond the Beyond blog on Wired.com is now in its 15th year. His most recent book is Pirate Utopia.
Pick up a femur, order a moon sandwich, and always remember to bring your space helmet with you! On its 50th anniversary, we’re discussing Stanley Kubrick’s classic “2001: A Space Odyssey.” What is the Monolith’s purpose? When and why does HAL become murderous? And why is there so much solarized stock footage of landscapes? Watch out for cheetahs!
They might find beauty in the same things humans do, you never know.
Alien invasion is a constant theme of Hollywood science fiction, from War of the Worlds to Independence Day. But Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, author of the new book Enlightenment Now, argues that highly developed civilizations tend toward peace and tolerance, and that advanced aliens are much more likely to be friendly.
“I think it’s not inconceivable that wars between countries will go the way of slave auctions and dueling, just be seen as too ridiculous for any reasonable country to engage in,” Pinker says in Episode 296 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “And maybe that’s the natural arc of civilizations, including ones on other planets.”
But wouldn’t alien brains be so different from ours that it would make mutual understanding impossible? On the contrary, since aliens would have been subject to the same evolutionary pressures as us, they would probably possess an appreciation of science—and maybe even beauty—similar to ours.
“It’s conceivable that other intelligences have a sense of beauty that is not wildly different from ours,” Pinker says, “because they too might be expected to be attuned to counter-entropic forces and patterns in nature.”
An example of this is our appreciation of the bright colors and symmetrical configuration of many flowers. “Flowers are designed to attract bugs,” Pinker says, “but they also attract us, and our brains are pretty different from bugs’ brains.”
But there are limits. Vast differences in culture and biology would definitely lead to some significant differences when it comes to art appreciation.
“It may be pushing things to say that little green men from Alpha Centauri would groove to Thelonious Monk,” Pinker says. “I don’t think I’d push it that far.”
Listen to the complete interview with Steven Pinker in Episode 296 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Steven Pinker on progress:
“Nowadays in the most conservative part of the world, namely the Islamic Middle East and North Africa, in many ways they are as liberal, even a bit more liberal, than people of the same age in, say, Sweden or Norway in the early 1960s. At first when I saw that graph I just couldn’t believe it, what are you talking about? People in Libya today are more liberal than people in Sweden in the early sixties? But if you actually think about it, if you go back to people’s attitudes in the sixties, the idea of say gay marriage—you ask a Swede in 1960 what they thought of gay marriage, they’d think you were nuts. Or women’s equality. We tend to underestimate how much the world has changed, particularly when it comes to generation by generation turnover.”
Steven Pinker on AI:
“If Elon Musk was really serious about the AI threat he’d stop building those self-driving cars, which are the first kind of advanced AI that we’re going to see. Now I don’t think he stays up at night worrying that someone is going to program into a Tesla ‘take me to the airport the quickest way possible,’ and the car is just going to make a beeline across sidewalks and parks, mowing people down and uprooting trees, because that’s the way the Tesla interprets the command ‘take me by the quickest route possible.’ That’s just idiotic, you wouldn’t build a car that way, because that isn’t an example of artificial intelligence — plus he’d get sued and there’d be reputational harms. You’d test the living daylights out of it before you let it on the streets.”
Steven Pinker on science fiction:
“If you take Moral Philosophy 101, or even better you dive into the technical literature in moral philosophy in the philosophy journals, it’s kind of all science fiction. It’s ‘what would happen if …?’ I mean, it’s not very good science fiction, as literature, but it’s putting together an imaginary world and exploring the consequences, to see what you really deep down believe. A simple example is the trolley problem—you know, imagine there’s a hurtling trolley and if it continues on its way it’ll kill five workers on the track who don’t see it coming, but if you flip the switch it’ll be diverted and kill only one person. Should you flip the switch? And all kinds of variations that start to go into the realm of science fiction. But it’s these stretches of the imagination that clarify what you really believe. So science fiction and moral philosophy are often pretty similar.”
Steven Pinker on academia:
“Just yesterday I got a slew of letters after I published an article in the Wall Street Journal just mentioning climate change, and a lot of the readers wrote back and said, ‘Don’t tell me you believe in climate change. That just comes out of universities and everyone knows that there’s just a left-wing echo chamber in the universities.’ Now that’s total and utter nonsense, I know these people—the climate scientists and planetary scientists and geophysicists, and they are not left-wing fanatics—but when you’ve got the university culture developing a reputation for orthodoxy and suppression of controversy, which is true in some parts of the university, it taints the university system as a whole, to the detriment of the entire society.”
You may love "2001," but you probably don’t love it as much as he does.
Francine Stock explores the hidden wonders of 2001: A Space Odyssey in a special edition.
Fresh from the movie theaters, here’s our flash review of “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” In a world where there’s a new “Star Wars” movie every year, sometimes it’s a relief not to have the fate of the galaxy at stake. What are the rules of Sabacc? Are references the lowest form of fan service? Will casual fans be more enthusiastic than hard-core ones? Why watch droids fighting for entertainment when you have holograms? From train heists to floating space yachts to surprise cameos, we break it all down.
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