Do Androids Dream of Living Computers?

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I’m much excited for the new Blade Runner 2049 movie coming out soon, but also a bit worried it may not live up to the grandeur of the original, a cinematography and storytelling work of art.

With that in mind, I attended the “Do Androids Dream of Living Computers?” event at the awesome Living Computers: Museum + Labs in the SoDo area of Seattle, last weekend. the event was an homage to the classic 1984 Blade Runner classic movie with its influence on tech, AI, and cyberpunk culture. With that were live performances, Voight-Kampff tests, cosplay, origami foldings, cosplay, AI developments examples, and much more. I had a good time and took a few pics…

 

Also, big thanks to the Living Computers: Museum + Labs for putting this on. The entire place is super great, with many preserved computer machines and new innovations on display. Much of which I plan to focus on with another write-up someday with another visit to the awesome museum. Visit www.livingcomputers.org for more information.

– Orion T

 

Reflecting on Star Trek: The Next Generation, 30th Anniversary…

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30 years ago on this day, Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered with its two-part pilot episode, “Encounter At Farpoint.” And ever since, the show has had a profound effect on my journey through life.

I was lucky enough to catch it on its premiere night, not quite as eager in the beginning. But something drew me, being a mixed cast of characters on a big starship, seeking out new life, new civilizations, and boldly going…. On this new starship, the NCC-1701 Enterprise D, held an android seeking humanity in itself, a mighty alien warrior eager for new challenges, a blind engineer expanding his self in science and technological advancement, a ship doctor balancing her work with the challenges of single motherhood, a ship counselor with empathic abilities often not very helpful, a charming first officer, and a captain who seeks the peaceful, diplomatic, humanitarian solutions to every problem.

This would go on for seven years, and four movies. Star Trek: The Next Generation became a show I grew up with, identifying with much of the crew on their journeys and moral dilemmas. To me, the show was about finding self in seeing what’s out there. For the crew and the journey, establishing humanity’s place in the Alpha Quadrant as a member of the Federation; ever-exploring and spreading peace along the way while interacting with new alien species. Each crew member had an ongoing quest to reaffirm their place on the bridge as an individual and team. Through them as inspiration and admiration, I often dealt better with relatable challenges in school, social explorations, and direction in life.

So, I love Star Trek: The Next Generation. Here are my top five favorite episodes in no particular order:

  • Darmok – Picard is trapped on a planet with an alien with a very complex language system. The challenge puts Picard’s communication skills to a great test, with the solution being finding common ground and learning about each other.
  • Q Who – The omnipotent Q throws the Enterprise into a distant uncharted space, where they meet the Borg. The experience is a lesson in humility for humanity, with new and iconic challenges to come.
  • Yesterday’s Enterprise – An awesome episode with much of everything packed in; time travel, an alternate reality, epic ship on ship battles, revealing history connecting the classic series with the new, crew members put in new roles, moral dilemmas, high stakes.
  • Chain of Command Part II – a gut-wrenching episode where Picard is held prisoner and tortured, physically and mentally. The acting between Picard and his Cardassian captor is intense, with an unforgettable ending. How many lights are there?
  • “The Offspring” – Data creates an android daughter for him, in a continual effort to be “human.” This raises dilemmas and challenges on multiple levels, in a new role he must take on as a father and protector. A mix of emotions results with twists and turns, leaving me as a viewer feeling sad in the end for a fictional character whose existence didn’t last.

Overall, I love Star Trek: The Next Generation for what it was to myself, and what it gave to its growing audience – a vision of the future for a possible destiny in the stars, where the exploring and bonding with the universe and ourselves will never stop. With that, I best recall that epic last line of Captain Picard from its very first episode, that still remains a most important marker for us all…

– Orion T

Picture of Today 5/25/2017, “Don’t call me a mindless philosopher”

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40 years ago on this day, a cinematic vision appeared detailing interesting conflict in a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. That was the first the world would truly know of the STAR WARS!

You may have heard of it. If not, here is a trailer.

I would know of it a bit later in my childhood, initially through the first sequel. But its presence was clear, and ingrained into my constant pop-culture appreciation for all things that involved dueling space wizards, weird-looking spaceships, bizarre aliens with mundane lifestyles, and robots that beep or speak with English accents.

My favorite character in the original is C-3PO (See-Threepio), a humanoid shaped droid with fluency in over six-million languages yet still seems to know so little of the universe around him. He discovered much but with hesitation, guided by his beeping, short astromech droid companion. His journey is not center through the film, and not very useful. But his humorous observations and interactions give the story a much needed dimension from someone less familiar or interest with galactic conflicts and strange religions. He just tags along, and provides funny comments.

My favorite Threepio line of the 1977 classic:  “Don’t call me a mindless philosopher.you overweight glob of grease!.”

 – Orion T

Picture of Today 9/8/2016, Boldly Still Going..

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50 years ago on this day, a five-year mission began.

To explore strange new life and new civilizations, and you probably know as that message began the science fiction phenomenon, Star Trek. For decades, I have always been a Trekkie at heart, following all the series and all the movies with so much I wish I had the time to say about it all.

And here we are, looking back to the show that put forth some pretty crazy concepts back then (and through later reboots and spin-offs). Behold a crew exploring the final frontier, where all were welcome on a Federation spaceship with no boundaries on race, religion, gender, or non-threatening alien species

Much was already gained in that experience, centuries earlier. We have expedited the tech used in the show. I took the picture above with my phone, that can communicate at the touch of a button. We have computers that can respond to voice commands, give us endless amounts of information at any time, do video-conferences, and more. We have handheld devices that can detect heartbeats, sleep patterns, and give medical data on the fly. With simple instructions, we can produce objects through 3-D printers. Modern VR tech might as well be the earliest form of the holodeck. And if testing goes well, the NASA EM Drive will bring us much faster to the planet Mars. Who knows how far the tech will progress after that?

And, there is so much more to learn from the show about ourselves and the many interesting moral challenges we continue to face. Star Trek examines every facet of humanity to some extent, including religion, war, philosophy, politics. There are challenges to the open mind in many episodes, while there are breaks of fun and action-packed sequences.

Cheer’s to the five-year mission, that was originally televised for less than three, yet expanded and built upon itself for fifty and beyond. The legacy shall last for as long as humanity shall move, perhaps into that final frontier.

But for now, some of us have a railcar to catch. Here is are a couple more shots of the transport craft above, promoting the nearby Star Trek exhibit at the Experience Music Project (EMP) Museum.

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– Orion T