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The Intersection: AI and Creator-bias

19 Apr

Today’s post isn’t about science fiction exactly, but we’ll file it under “thoughts that inspire science fiction” and vice versa.

Ask a professional scientist if observer bias exists, and they’ll say yes. Medical science alone has many examples of what happens when bias is ignored. It affects medical practice in dangerous ways. Until recently, drug testing was almost never conducted on women. The reasoning was that women have “hormone fluctuations,” and the male-dominated medical industry wanted a pure data-baseline. Society believes that male is default for human. So, the establishment assumed that whatever is safe for men is safe for women and never looked back. Of course, the failure in logic here is that if a drug’s effectiveness is adulterated enough by female hormone fluctuations that it alters the end data, how could they have missed that this also meant this interaction could change its efficacy on the patient? Or to put it another way: How could they possibly know whether or not the drugs were, in fact, safe for women if the drugs aren’t tested under conditions with shifting hormones — the very conditions under which the drug was being used? This isn’t the only example.[1] And medicine isn’t the only science to suffer because of unexamined bias.

And here is where we begin our discussion of AI. Continue reading

The Intersection: Dear Horror Genre, Let’s Talk

15 Mar

Dearest Reader, I hope you don’t mind taking a side-quest into Horror today. Horror, as I see it, is related to Science Fiction and Fantasy. Yes, it’s its own entity, but it’s related via Surrealism. Sometimes they’re so closely related that it’s difficult to separate one from the other. (See Alien, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Attack the Block, Pitch Black, and Event Horizon to name a few.) I used to consume a great deal of Horror[1], but at a certain point I no longer felt safe or welcome — even as a viewer. So, I left it behind, but I think I may be wandering back in thanks to a number of new releases and well, a certain podcast that I’d also like to recommend. (Women in Caskets, I’m looking at you. :)) WiCs reminded me of how much I miss Horror, and of how much I’ve missed. Continue reading

The Intersection: Imagine

15 Feb

“This is called the theory of narrative causality and it means that a story, once started, takes a shape. It picks up all the vibrations of all the other workings of that story that have ever been. This is why history keeps on repeating all the time.” — Terry Pratchett

“People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.” ― Terry Pratchett

When people ask me why I feel diversity is important in Science Fiction and Fantasy, I direct them to Terry Pratchett. He wrote a great deal about racism, sexism, and classism. He also knew a thing or two about people and story. Mainly, that story has a big effect on how people view the world and themselves. Continue reading

Diversity in SF Film: Things to Come (1936)

21 Dec

This is my third post on diversity in Science Fiction films. I started with Metropolis (1927), and then skipped two decades to The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). Largely, my reason was that there weren’t any options for the 30s or 40s available on Netflix. Apparently, there aren’t very many SF films within that twenty year period.[1] I’ve decided to skip Frankenstein  although the novel is one of the first, if not the first, SF novels — because the classic film has more in common with horror than SF. I feel much the same about King Kong. Therefore, I settled on Things to Come (1936), which is based upon the H.G. Wells’ novel published in 1933 entitled The Shape of Things to Come. I know I’m risking a bit of confusion by going backward here, but I felt it was too important to skip. Also:  keep in mind that I don’t think I read the novel. At least, I don’t remember having read it.[2] So… Things to Come. Continue reading

Diversity in SF Film: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

15 Oct

I thought I’d seen this film before, but apparently not. For a film made in the early ’50s — the era when post WW2 women were told to return to their “feminine roles” — it’s pretty inclusive. From the beginning, we see PoCs as part of the world’s population — even as part of the American population. They may not always have lines, and they may not be a big part of the action, but they exist in the background. Watch an American film today and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Not only do non-model-worthy people not exist, but neither do PoCs. Mind you, the British newscasters say things like “Throughout the Empire and the rest of the world,” and we see shots of these colonials in their colonial-ness — but hey, they EXIST. Wooo. Continue reading

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