Blog : Science Fiction

The rise of artificial intelligence: all in the mind?

The rise of artificial intelligence: all in the mind?

Margaret tells me that she will be away this summer – making her annual trip to a remote Pacific island – out of touch from phones and email.

Now over 80 years old and a Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the Department of Informatics at The University of Sussex, Margaret Boden isn’t how you’d picture an expert on artificial intelligence.  The walls of her living room are covered in collections of computer generated art from the 1960s, alongside Balinese puppets and a collection of glass from early history.

Studying medical sciences and later philosophy and psychology, she worked to develop the world’s first academic programme in cognitive science in the 1960s. Though she talks lucidly about technology,  her interest and authority on AI comes from understanding the impact and relationship of AI to people.

In science fiction, robots reflect our deepest desires, needs and fears – they are our slaves, entertainment and our personal assistants – caring for the elderly, serving as companions for the lonely but at the same time threatening to outsmart, outperform and overthrow us.

According to Margaret, far away from the realms of science-fiction, AI is already transforming what it means to be human. Behind every internet search, bank transaction or online movie recommendation, AI is influencing the very fabric of the societies we live in.

Acknowledging AI’s conflicting and complex influence on people, she sees major developments on the horizon: from disrupting work and the jobs we do, to tackling currently incurable diseases and enabling “the generation of previously impossible ideas.”
Watch Margaret’s interview to hear her hopes for the future.

 

Watch Margaret’s interview

 

Have your say and follow the conversation using the hashtags #its2097 and #expertinterview

 

Grassroots Utopias and how to build them

Grassroots Utopias and how to build them

“The streets are twenty feet broad; there lie gardens behind all their houses… Their doors have all two leaves, which, as they are easily opened, so they shut of their own accord; and, there being no property among them, every man may freely enter into any house whatsoever.”

Thomas More, Utopia, first published in 1516

Arguably the first science fiction ever written, Thomas More’s Utopia has inspired generations of thinkers and writers to imagine new worlds in the future.

Today is a chilly December morning and our host, Christian Juuls Wendell leads me and a group of young people from Hull and Aarhus through a warren of wood workshops: past a blacksmith and out to the area they use for converting shipping containers into anything from food stalls to homes. This is Institut for X in Aarhus, Denmark, a utopia of sorts that has sprung up on the outskirts of the city centre and that is heralded as an example of how to design and manage the cities of the future.

Once home to the city’s homeless and dispossessed, the former railway yard now houses designers, architects, carpenters and artists – who over the last nine years, have built an improvised village from sheds, shacks and old shipping containers. A form of ‘bottom-up’ development, the area provides small scale solutions which in turn act as the fertile soil for building a creative and inclusive city – which adapts to the needs of its citizens.


Its success may be due, in part, to what Christian calls ‘municipal bowling’ – where getting permission from a city government for grassroots development is just a question of finding the right person to persuade. Find the right person and they themselves will advocate for change and persuade the rest of the city administration to come on side.

Torre David, Caracas
Torre David, Caracas


From examples such as Torre David in Caracas – a 45 storey high-rise left abandoned after the collapse of the Venezuelan economy and adapted by a community of 750 families – to digital infrastructure and questions over how and smart technology is deployed in our cities, the arguments about who is best placed to lead development of our cities continues.

Watch Christian’s interview to hear his views from the ground in Aarhus.

 

Watch Christian’s interview

 

What does 2097 look like?

What does 2097 look like?

What does 2097 look like?

Take a look at some of the images scriptwriter Matt has been drawing inspiration from to create the world of the five sci-fi films. Can you imagine these buildings, objects and people being part of your city in 80 years time?

Objects

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Neri Oxman mask, credit: Dezeen

Thinking about what ceremonial objects may look like 80 years from now, we came across these beautiful 3D printed death masks by Neri Oxman on Dezeen. The bruise-colours and the crystalline quality of the material have a sci-fi edge, almost like the object is alive, “I love the idea that in the future 3D printers will create objects of high cultural value”.

And speaking of 3D printers…

DSC02891_Blast Theory

In January Matt, Ju and Nick were in South Korea and drove past these on the way to Incheon. Machines will undoubtedly change in the next 80 years but cranes from 1937 wouldn’t look that far out of place today.

Buildings

Matt’s been looking at a lot of brutalist architecture from the 50s and 60s because “brutalism was perhaps the last architectural movement that set out to transform everything. It was so radical. You had buildings with almost no windows, entire districts moved onto a different level. And the thing about brutalism is that the designs immediately raise questions as to the building’s purpose. I’m not even sure if the central bank in Baghdad strictly qualifies as brutalism but this photo is shocking. Not just for the US troops guarding it and the damage visible on the bank itself (it was looted by Saddam Hussein’s sons) but for the sense of power emanating from the building.”

US troops guard the Central Bank of Iraq. The building was looted during the war. USAIDS is providing a "ministry in a box" which includes desks, chairs, telephones and computers to help get the misintry get back to business.

This photo of the recently opened Qatar Foundation in Doha, designed by OMA is striking in a different way. From the inside it has this fantastic panoramic view of the city framed between the concrete. It seems remote from the ground below.

qatar-foundation-headquarters-oma-architecture-offices-credit-jazzy-news_dezeen_2364_col_12_Dezeen

People

Umbrellas, skirts, cardigans and patterns. Artist Nick has been looking to the past for inspiration on future clothes. After all things often come back into fashion.

FLASHBACK HDM ARCHIVE LIBRARY IMAGES weekly daily Images of Freetown Way in Hull. Dated 22nd August 1986 - pedestrians and motorists alike get used to Hull's newest road. keywords - roads traffic access 1980's car cars wet weather rain umbrella umbrellas rainy pouring generic brolly brollie

 

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Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting more snippets of inspiration that have influenced the film scripts form Aarhus, Hull and beyond.


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Casting Call

Casting Call

Want to star in a series of sci-fi shorts?

Are you an actor and up for a new challenge? The search is on for two older Danish actors as a casting call launches for major roles in a series of short sci-fi films being shot in the city.

The sci-fi films are part of the Aarhus European Capital of Culture 2017 commissioned 2097: We Made Ourselves Over, a year-long interactive art project by internationally renowned artists group Blast Theory that invites the cities of Aarhus and Hull, UK to reimagine their communities 80 years in the future.

Now, Blast Theory are looking for one male and one female actor in their late 50s to take part in filming in Hull and Aarhus in June and July 2017. The films will be screened online and in both cities later this year.

Matt Adams from Blast Theory says: “It is the year 2097 and a new era is dawning in the city of Aarhull. Mass and Varda are in their late 50s and are ready to walk an epic journey.

“Can you see yourself playing one of these imaginative sci-fi roles? Can you swim and are you up for a challenge? If you want to help bring this vision of the future to life we’d love to hear from you.”

Interested candidates are asked to register their interest by emailing gizmo@caster.com by 22 May, with their name, age, address and a recent photograph. Good luck!

Auditions will take place in Aarhus on 24 May.