Believing the Fantastical

After spending Easter Sunday Dinner with my Grandparents I’ve come up with a new idea for a Bucket list item.

Arrived to start chatting about the latest family developments. Since I brought Oscar I took him for a walk along the creek to recheck his stomping grounds. Returned to a cup of tea which lead into fixing a computer and installing some software. Bit of heavily lifting later and concluded with dinner made for a welcome rest. Following dinner, sitting in the lounge chatting, listening to their stories and checking BBC News we flicked over to watch Loch Ness (1996).

As a boy I toured Scotland camping and caravaning seeing bits and pieces with the family but never seen or stayed near enough to see Loch Ness. During the film when a familiar scene showed we’d diverge onto anecdotes regarding their visits including mentions about their dog Tinker.

With a little after thought I’ve decided I want to stay at one of the (probably ridiculously overpriced) Bed & Breakfasts in the area (ideally the Moffat Arms). This is a typical reaction to seeing the movie I’d reason but a followup thought to this, unique to me and this visit are the stories I’ve heard during.

In addition to this visit I’d like ask the locals about their stories, not really to hear the vastly over exaggerated tourist tales but to see the expression on the faces of the people telling the story. I’m hoping that eventually someone will tell earnest stories with wonder of the magic and mystery of the loch.

Sure we live in the Age of Information where rational thought and empirical data rules but there must still be some fellow daydreamers, imagineers or fantasists up there who whilst accept that a Nessie or Kelpy probably doesn’t exist it would be rekindle that childhood belief of extraordinary possibility that so many have forgot.

When does the new decade start? (Was there a year zero?)

Is tomorrow the last day of this decade or do we still have 366 days to go? Either way is acceptable, but because I love finding out the reasons for this sort of thing I thought I’d share them with you. 🙂 Continue reading When does the new decade start? (Was there a year zero?)

Remembering the Future

At a young age you imagine what it’ll be like when you grow up, whether you’re going to be an actor(ess), Fireman or Space Cowboy. You create an entire life in the blink of an eye, you’ve streamlined out all the boring preparations to the fun bit at the end, the goal. Unfortunately not all of these daydreams can come true, for whatever reason you get detoured and things change, for some people its major, others’ practically unnoticeable.

To believe that you could’ve achieved your dream if it weren’t for certain obstacles is easy, optimists would say that if you really apply yourself you can do anything, but some obstacles truly are unavoidable, not in the sense of fate or destiny but simply uncontrollable random events.

For those that didn’t get exactly what they dreamt, nor are happy with the outcome there is a quote that you’ll appreciate:

The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly one you can never have.

Søren Kierkegaard

I never had a dream of becoming anything particular, I had one of those aptitude tests and I remember the top two results to this day 1) Actor, 2) Naval Architect. I suppose a graphic designer is a good blend between them, the structure and function of architecture with the character and creativity of a Thespian. I’m fairly happy with what I do, my only regret, the future that I remember is knowing when I was younger what I would enjoy design and geared myself towards it sooner rather than playing catchup essentially being further along with my life than I am. However the slow road has its advantages…..

So even though your future never happened the fact that it could is a great source of melancholy, but still trying for it is a great source of hope. And any source of hope is a good thing, even if it comes from sadness.

What futures do you remember?

What Books would you Rebuild Humanity with?

One of my favourite films is the 1960 classic (H.G. Wells’) The Time Machine. A 19th Century Scientist builds a Time Machine and travels forwards in time to see the progress of Humanity. Witnessing the destruction in World War II he travels further eventually seeing the 803rd Century and a Utopian society of gentle humans. But all is not as ideal as it seems.

The end of the film, without giving away any spoilers, he comes back to his present collects 3 books and returns to the future. If you were going to rebuild civilization what 3 books would you take?

Zeroth Law

The inherent flaws of Isaac Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robots have been reviewed with much scrutiny by many people over the years since there inception as a plot device. The favoured outcome; a rule to correct the problem already laid out in the first Law.

Zeroth Law

0. No robot may harm humanity or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

This removes ambiguity from the 1st Law, now it only concerns an individual and the Zeroth Law protects humanity as a whole.

3 Laws Unsafe

Most people should be familiar with the box office success I, Robot (2004), it’s 2035 AD, robots are everyday tools and are programmed to live and serve alongside humans. Detective Spooner is called out to investigate the apparent suicide of the scientist that designs robots; Dr. Alfred Lanning. A robot is found in close proximity to the crime scene and Spooner suspects it might be the perpetrator despite robots never having injured a human because of the unbreakable 3 Laws in there Circuits.

Those with a superficial interest in Science Fiction assume that the 3 Laws just ‘break’ because its a movie. This is not the case. Below are the 3 laws:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Can you see the flaw that lets the movie take place? The laws are in a descending order of importance, so the first law must always be followed, the second if it can, and the third if our orders permit it. So you can ask it to kill itself because the 2nd Law overrides the robots self preservation (3rd) however you can’t ask the robot to shot someone else because it would break the 1st Law.

The reason the robots can kill humans is the 2 letter word ‘or’ in the first Law. Its a logical operator that means one or the other. So if they follow the second part of the 1st Law in an attempt to preserve humanity they can injure humans.

A logical robot would find the first part most important and follow it first. An altruistic robot, one with emotions such as compassion would want no harm to all humans; the greatest good.

This is why the smarter a robot, indeed computers, the harder it will get to control them because there understanding of the laws we give them might surpass ours with dire consequences.