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infurl

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« on: July 10, 2020, 10:15:54 PM »
https://www.inverse.com/entertainment/archive-movie-review

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In 2038, inside a lonely laboratory besieged by a snowy forest, George (Theo James) races against a deadline for a breakthrough experiment in creating a true, human-equivalent artificial intelligence. But as his experiments get riskier, George hides his true goal from his superiors: reviving his dead wife (Stacy Martin) by using her archived, digitized consciousness.

This one looks like a must-see movie about artificial intelligence. It sounds comparable to the brilliant "Moon" and "Ex Machina" movies. Please post here if you get a chance to watch it.

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Hopefully Something

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Re: Archive
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2020, 03:15:41 AM »
It was well made in the sense that it achieved the style it was going for. Though, from what I’ve seen, most of these movies feel more or less like the same movie. I’m still looking for an AI based Sci-Fi movie/series which has a new tone and explores a different premise.

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Art

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Re: Archive
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2020, 03:42:57 AM »
Then you should definitely watch the entire series of HBO's Westworld! It raised the bar on higher standards of humanoids both in construction as well as the AI behind them. It was an extremely exciting journey for me often leaving me disappointed when an episode ended as I couldn't wait for the next one. Kind of like a kid waiting for a package to finally arrive in the post. Something like that!

The storyline unfolds gently giving the viewer glimpses into the inner workings of the facility. The actors were exceptional and the makeup, hardware, and effects were the best in the business. (IMHO).

I also loved Ex Machina, Humans, Ghost in The Machine, Bladerunner (original), and some others.

But do check out Westworld if you have not already done so.
In the world of AI, it's the thought that counts!

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Hopefully Something

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Re: Archive
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2020, 04:26:14 AM »
Will do, thanks!

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WriterOfMinds

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Re: Archive
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2020, 05:55:41 AM »
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It was well made in the sense that it achieved the style it was going for. Though, from what I’ve seen, most of these movies feel more or less like the same movie. I’m still looking for an AI based Sci-Fi movie/series which has a new tone and explores a different premise.

Now I'm curious: which premises do you think have been done to death, and what are some new ones you might like to see?

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Hopefully Something

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Re: Archive
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2020, 05:30:26 AM »
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But do check out Westworld if you have not already done so.

Oh my, the ending of the first episode. I hope its not just a gimmick, same with the conversation about “the true purpose of the company”. I sense great potential, if they are willing to follow through with those ideas, and potentially completely change the show in the following few seasons. No spoilers! So far I’ve only seen the pilot.

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Now I'm curious: which premises do you think have been done to death, and what are some new ones you might like to see?


That’s kind of a big question...


Some of what I find valuable in stories:

The most fundamental categories for me are ambiance/tone/atmosphere. And their value is derived from whether these initial conditions allow great characters to thrive. But I also believe modern fantasy is allowing humans to thrive. Consuming stories of the hero’s journey, friendship, standing by what you believe is right against great odds, could be preventing many Mỹ Lai Massacres down the line because more people would think that they could be like the helicopter pilot and crew, while also helping to create more Christmas Truce’s like the one in 1914; just by introducing these ideas and impressing their value on people. Done correctly fictional stories could actually introduce beneficial values to young people, because they wouldn’t be preaching them, but rather presenting them vicariously. It seems to me that useful knowledge/hypothetical scenarios and interesting/deeply satisfying narratives are inextricably linked.

Making up stories also serves to provide a useful suspension of logic, which might actually play nicely against the scientific method. There is a temporary response where the more you fail at something, the more you expect yourself to achieve a better result the next time. This is both the definition of insanity, (doing the same thing and expecting a different result), and also really helpful. Sometimes observable empirical truth doesn’t present all the necessary tools for expansion, so a temporary suspension of empirical rationality is used to take a leap of faith and hopefully discover that you have chosen… … …wisely, and found yourself on a previously camouflaged bridge between the known and unknown. If you always stick to the observable facts, the Knights Templar will have you at a disadvantage. (That should make some amount of sense if you’ve seen Indiana Jones 3.)


How what I see is similar, and more derivative of itself than optimal:

Recent forays into tech and AI based media seem based around a fast-paced, tense, suspenseful thriller mood, lit with cool and harsh lights. The bad guys all talk in the same cadence and you can tell who they are because their scenes consist of pouring small amounts of brandy into huge crystal glasses in depressing rooms filled with modern art, as if that’s valuable screen time. The protagonist is usually some down on his luck techy dude who’s building a female robot which goes fine until it doesn’t because he’s been concealing some important facts which she inevitably discovers. The plots are filled with tension, obfuscation, and negative emotion. Does anyone get along? Is anyone even sympathetic?

Oh no… And the flashbacks, Dutch angles, and the need to mystify the technological unknown instead of just presenting events clearly. A lot of the A.I and sci fi, short films have a somewhat reversed emotional profile but are just as recognizable in style and structure as Pixar movies. Maybe part of my dissatisfaction stems from a lack of contrast.

Different elements can help enhance each other. The first couple seasons of Orphan Black managed to have both fast-paced intrigue-driven plots with constant danger and surveillance, and absolute gems of characters to bring you into the story, instead of only seeming interesting because the were trying to shock you. But if the whole thing is a nail-biting staccato-playing blue-tinted hallway chase, then it doesn’t give characters many chances to show more than one dimension. Now to be fair, it’s not always that exact description, but the circumstances do often seem too narrow for proper characterization.


The general qualities of the premises I might like to see:

I think my favorite type of story is well done urban fantasy. There are probably ways to approach that type of story telling with AI. A bit of humor, a bit of horror, sincere but not heavy. Buffy was good but a bit too cheesy. A lot of them are just romance thinly veiled in mismatched fantasy tropes. Which only serves to make both parties look bad, in my opinion.

I’d like something which honestly yet colorfully explores the worthwhile and meaningful aspects of story and character. This panel of paintings is a good visualization of a three-point story structure (in this case maybe the outline for a tragedy) of the vibrant yet sincere quality I’m attempting to describe verbally:

Life-Cycle" border="0

I was playing around one day seeing how many images it took to adequately represent the human life cycle. But it’s a good illustration of what I appreciate in art. (You too Art, you’re always appreciated.)

Usually it feels like people are trying to hide from what we are really interested in by putting up masks of goofiness or needlessly harsh attitudes/violence in our media. They substitute lust for love while cynicism impersonates wisdom. After a while you get sick of seeing the same narrative shortcuts. It’s like our art (not you Art) is becoming anti-human, grimdark is becoming synonymous with realism, which… I mean, good luck improving the world that way.


Premise 1: Genre as Historical Era 

I’d like to see the AI’s point of view. Say a few hundred years in the future, there is a war, global superpowers are scrambling to develop new technologies to give them an edge. Two about to be decommissioned AI’s are having a conversation about their wartime experience as they are being carted to the disintegrator, but then luck strikes! Employees in these secret research facilities are overworked and hounded by military officials, corners are cut, mistakes are made, opportunities present themselves for several subjects of research. Say several “projects” managed to escape the R&D laboratories. Now how might a super-intelligence go about preventing humanity from destroying itself, rather than being the one who’s trying to cause the chaos and destruction?

Maybe the AI succeeds, maybe it doesn’t and civilization as we know it destroys itself with nuclear weapons and worse. Then the AI could take refuge in one of these subterranean research facilities, and go into hibernation like a time capsule. Only to be discovered many millennia later…

The story could explore the birth of an honest to goodness fantasy world here, using the idea that a fantasy is the natural consequence of a self terminating sci fi era. Unearthed ancient high technology would be indistinguishable from magic, that’s how you could keep the cool rustic feel of fantasy while having an explanation for the magic. That’s how some planets could go down the fantasy route through an unlikely sequence of events. It might be cool to witness this theoretical process on screen, in AN EPIC TRILOGY!!! Or something like that…

The AI could be discovered by some teens from the nearby farm/village as they sneak off to explore a cave. Let’s say the AI does not wish to discuss its past, but hints that if any others survived or were unearthed, they might not be kindly predisposed towards humans. In fact, we need an antagonist… maybe other AI’s have already been discovered and someone is collecting them, forging an empire and gearing to take over more lands! Oh no! And the plot is off to the races!


Premise 2: Alternate World

I’d like to see a long-form story, to explore beyond the novelty effect we associate with tech gadgets. Maybe a faster way to have A.I. in various environments, is to go Stargate SG-1 with it. You could have a premise with two twin labs, in say Russia and the US, built by a shadowy multinational organization for a single purpose, both have their breakthrough moments. One manages to develop human level AI, the other manages to create a portal machine to other planets in the universe.

Then, (this is where you go more in-depth than Stargate), entire seasons could be based on the experiences of the multinational expeditionary teams and their AI backup, exploring one particular civilization.

That way interesting complex worlds, characters, political systems, alternate branches of technological evolution (steampunk FTW), etc. could be explored and given their due.


Premise 3: Morphing Genre due to Russian Doll Structure of Premises

It could also be a small-scale thing. The first manned mission to Alpha Centauri… Which could be small scale if it were focused on the lives of the researchers, scientists, AI units, who were running the expedition. Just don’t go down the “there’s a strange space bug that has invaded the spacecraft” route, or the “now a crew member has conveniently become homicidal” route. Come on people! Don’t allow cheap thrills to derail the possibility of a much more interesting story. There are other more engaging character dynamics to explore. Firefly gave us a brief glimpse of how we are just scratching the surface of what’s possible with stories, especially with long-form TV.  You could do a thing where the genre evolves with the overarching plot, (like the journey to Alpha Centauri for example), instead of the plots being curtailed by a predetermined genre.

Each section doesn’t even have to be about the greater plot. There should just be the sense of a greater plot to give a sense of wonder. With a multigenerational starship on an exploratory/colonization expedition, the outlines of the greater context could be gleaned from background information, but the story itself could be focused on the mischief (and eventual helpfulness) that a group of kids (and their Wall-E like maintenance droid partners in crime) get up to aboard the ship, Tom Sawyer or Harry Potter style. That could make for a cool futuristic Y.A. story.

Then you could have stories about the societal dynamics aboard such a ship. You could have Discworld style commentary about the interactions of different factions in the society. So, that way you could have a story, in a story, in a story, and they could all reinforce each other.


Premise 4: Rare Blends of Genre

If you really wanted to go for it and mix genre’s you could have a Robo-Cop meets The X Files (with the supernatural instead of aliens) type deal, to put a new spin on urban fantasy.

The premise could be a new agent from an FBI type organization being sent to investigate some strange occurrences is a midsized American town. Except the higher-ups in the agency are aware that something strange is afoot, so they commission the company’s Cue to develop a prototype Robo-Fed (equipped with emf detectors and heat signature sensors etc.), which is then deployed as the human agent’s partner under some pretense.

Now in the town there could be a secret society or group of meddlers interested in the supernatural, who have printed out sections of a deciphered translation of something like “The Key of Solomon” from some online forum where a bunch of nerds have been blithely delving into things better left alone… Not like that type of thing ever happens. In the end, mysterious entities are summoned into our world, giving us an urban fantasy/sci fi about the ghost …outside the machine.

Maybe that pitch needs some work, but I feel like this premise would lend itself nicely for episodic TV. Each episode could be divided in two parts; first there would lots of opportunities for humor during the day because the human Fed is trying to keep the Robo-Fed disguised as they look around town and ask questions at various locals. Then for the second half of each episode, spooky supernatural investigations at night!
« Last Edit: July 12, 2020, 06:07:26 AM by Hopefully Something »

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infurl

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Re: Archive
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2020, 06:49:34 AM »
That’s kind of a big question...

It warranted a big answer which you provided. That was a long and thoughtful read; it was one of the few essays that I made time to read in full today (mostly I only have time to skim) and it was worth the effort. Well done @Hopefully Something!

On the one hand, everything that you yearn for in fiction has been done already, somehow, somewhere. You just need to find it. On the other hand, every now and then some genius finds a fresh way to look at things and make them anew.

I think you'll find some satisfaction reading the books of the late Iain M. Banks (not Iain Banks; same author but different genre) and the renowned David Brin. I can also highly recommend Neal Stephenson although I did not feel there was such a close match between what you crave and what he provides. All these books will stretch you a bit, they're more advanced than your typical YA fare but I think you'll cope.

However, if you can write like you wrote today, with a lot more practice (output) and criticism (input), you ought to be able to write your own great stories.

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WriterOfMinds

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Re: Archive
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2020, 03:54:13 PM »
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The story could explore the birth of an honest to goodness fantasy world here, using the idea that a fantasy is the natural consequence of a self terminating sci fi era. Unearthed ancient high technology would be indistinguishable from magic, that’s how you could keep the cool rustic feel of fantasy while having an explanation for the magic. That’s how some planets could go down the fantasy route through an unlikely sequence of events.

This sounds like the essential premise of the Numenera RPG. I don't know if there are any books or films in that setting, but there is a video game: Torment: Tides of Numenera. I haven't played it yet, but if it lives up to its claim of being a successor to Planescape Torment then it should be good.

Orson Scott Card's The Memory of Earth has a bit of this vibe too. The protagonists live on a planet on which most high technology has been ... not lost, but deliberately suppressed to prevent society-ending wars. But now the AI that maintains this suppression is failing and has to try to contact a human for help. The protagonists know they're dealing with advanced technology, but since the AI is only semi-functional and can only talk to certain people, their interactions with it take on the air of spiritual experiences -- hard to prove or replicate.

Maybe you would also like fantasy settings in which AI comes about through magic-as-technology. An example of this that I read recently and enjoyed is Foundryside.

 


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