Tag Archive for 'philosophy'

Transcendence movie review

Transcendence is excellent composition and an important an important film for humanity to discuss both the next age of civilization and what is humanity. Compositionally, every opening scene details and symbols get tied to something in the later in the story, so every string is tied off and the whole thing is rather balanced. Transcendence is probably the first commercial film that drives its story atop of a relatively accurate prediction of the capabilities of super powerful artificial general intelligence (AGI) and the promises and proverbial magic of nanotechnology. The actors’ performances were excellent, and Johnny Depp delivered quite believably on point, going from human to death to resurrection in a machine and beyond—certainly a long character arch.

As with many great films and in line with recent story telling styles, the antagonists are relatable, and one of which, Max, a colleague of the protagonists, changes sides, so one finds oneself halfway through the movie before deciding whether to like or hate Max.

I always love the theme of a machine becoming more human, and this film explored this overarching theme from the angle of making a human become a machine. I am not a true philosopher, and although this film restated at least twice the impossible test of what it means to be conscious, another, while more subliminal, question was an undertone of whether a machine can love. A human can quite easily love a machine, but how true a machine’s reciprocation of such love is beyond imagination perhaps unless it is personally experienced. Perhaps as Ray Kurzweil states it, and I’m paraphrasing, “It’s so compelling that it doesn’t matter if it’s real.” One stance of that debate within the film was that love along with other emotions could be so illogical that only a human can handle the internal dissonance while a machine will never reconcile that because it is merely a simulation, and therefore any notion of love would fall apart within a machine. But frankly, how is that so different from the human experience because after all, once there is too much dissonance, it too can fall apart?

Finally, the significance of the closing scene, in the protagonists’, Casters, sanctuary garden, leaves much to wonder what is happening inside the puddle of water that is riddled with nanotechnology. My take on it is that puddle now contains a consciousness—or two. This film shows technology on the horizon of humanity, a horizon that is also the end of humanity, as we know it. The only controllable change is redefining humanity. Everyone should see this film and then decide on which side of technology to take a position. At least this way, everyone will be better prepared for both change and the dialog.

Architectural lecture by William Pedersen

A good friend of mine invited me last minute to see an architectural lecture at the Dallas Museum of Art by the world-renown architect William Pedersen. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is one of my friend’s and mine favorite buildings in Dallas, and Pedersen designed it. Pedersen is one of the lead architects of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project in New York City, which he considers to be a project of a lifetime.

The presentation was memorable for me in that Pedersen had searched for a fundamental exercise in structural design equivalently analogous to musical scales. So, he showed photos of how he balanced random rocks on the beach as one such exercise. He walked us through some of the most important aspects of his creations, many of which won awards, emphasizing balance and motion. He considers the Rockefeller Center in New York as the greatest architectural achievement of all time because it balances nobility with humility. This is why the grander or larger the building, the simpler it must look. He also stated that it is very difficult to achieve simplicity because underneath it is very complex.

Afterward the lecture, everyone walked over the Federal Reserve building for a reception (marker B). There was airport-like security but nicer to get in. After we got our free drinks and viewed the exhibit, we actually got a chance to talk with Pedersen, where we commented that we comparing the Federal Reserve building to something mathematical, like Bach. My friend called it lyrical, but I disagreed and call it a stationary interval. I asked him whether he considered proportions of intervals found in the well-tempered scale. Although he was very intrigued with the question, he stated he did not consider that because he does not know anything about music theory and responded that everything plays off the golden mean. I tried to relate the intervals to which I was referring to physics rather than music theory. Interestingly, although it became time for him to go and someone started ushering him away, it was apparent he wanted to continue this conversation. The upside is that because Pedersen does not use harmonics or frequency proportions found in musical scales, I won a bet with my friend, so he had to pay for dinner.

Here are some photos I took of the Federal Reserve building back in October 2012 during the Klyde Park opening. Click on the images for full resolution.
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas as seen from Klyde Park

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas close up

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas as seen down the street a block away

Beethoven spoke to us through his last symphony

This morning, I had to the pleasure of listening to radio show To the Best of our Knowledge, and show discussed a topic that held my interest since I was an young teenager starting a rock band. The concept of “a song that changed the world” seemed like the ultimate accomplishment any musician could achieve. Later, as I tried to discuss the idea with people, I was discouraged that such a thing was impossible. So, it caught my attention as I turned on NPR while making a late breakfast to hear about this very concept over a decade later that I have all but abandoned.

The entire show The Soundtrack to War and Peace were interviews with various musicians and musicologists discussing just how music has changed socio-political situations. The last segment was an interviewed with author Harvey Sachs who wrote The Ninth: Beethoven and the World in 1824 and discussed on the show Beethoven’s political leanings and philosophical aspirations and how they’re reflected in his last symphony. Sachs stated that Beethoven spoke to all future generations, us, people before and after us, and how we should all get along. This is why he had voice in his symphony, which is very unusual; he wanted to speak to those who do not know how to understand music and explicitly state that all previous men of power, although many admirable, have never done much good for common man. The lyrics of the symphony couldn’t be clearer.