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Category Archives: Transhuman

Seattle faith groups reckon with AI and what it means to be truly human – Seattle Times

Posted: November 12, 2019 at 6:44 am

On a recent Sunday at the Queen Anne Lutheran Church basement, parishioners sat transfixed as the Rev. Dr. Ted Peters discussed an unusual topic for an afternoon assembly: Can technology enhance the image of God?

Peters discussion focused on a relatively new philosophical movement. Its followers believe humans willtranscend their physical and mental limitations with wearable and implantable devices.

The movement, called transhumanism, claims that in the future, humans will be smarter and stronger and may even overcome aging and death through developments in fields such as biotechnology and artificial intelligence (AI).

What does it mean to be truly human? Peters asked in a voice that boomed throughout the church basement, in a city that boasts one of the worlds largest tech hubs. The visiting reverend urged the 30 congregants in attendance to consider the question during a time when being human sounds optional to some people.

Its sad; it makes me feel a lot of grief, a congregant said, shaking her head in disappointment.

Organized religions have long served as an outlet for humans to explore existential questions about their place in the universe, the nature of consciousness and free will. But as AI blurs the lines between the digital and physical worlds, fundamental beliefs about the essence of humanity are now called into question.

While public discourse around advanced technologies has mostly focused on changes in the workforce and surveillance, religious followers say the deeper implications of AI could be soul-shifting.

It doesnt surpriseJames Wellman, a University of Washington professor and chair of the Comparative Religion Program, that people of faith are interested in AI. Religious observers place their faith in an invisible agent known as God, whom they perceive as benevolent and helpful in their lives. The use of technology evokes a similar phenomenon, such as Apples voice assistant Siri, who listens and responds to them.

That sounds an awful lot like what people do when they think about religion, Wellman said.

When Dr. Daniel Peterson became the pastor of the Queen Anne Lutheran Church three years ago, he hoped to explore issues meaningful both to his congregants and to secular people.

Petersons fascination with AI, as a lifelong science-fiction fan, belies a skepticism in the ubiquity of technology: Hes opted out of Amazons voice assistant Alexa in his house and said he gets nervous about cameras on cellphones and computers.

He became interested in looking at AI from a spiritual dimension after writing an article last year aboutthe depiction of technologies such as droidsin Star Wars films. In Petersons eyes, artificially intelligent machines in the films areequipped with a sense of mission that enables them to think and act like humans without needing to be preprogrammed.

His examination of AI yielded more questions than answers: What kind of bias or brokenness are we importing in the artificial intelligence were designing? Peterson pondered. If AI developed consciousness, what sort of philosophical and theological concerns does that raise?

Peterson invited his church and surrounding community to explore these questions and more in the three-part forum called Will AI Destroy Us?, which kicked off with a conversation held by Carissa Schoenick from the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, followed by Peters discussion on transhumanism, and concluded with Petersons talk on his own research around AI in science-fiction films.

Held from late September to early October, the series sought to fillwhat Peterson called a silence among faith leaders about the rise of AI. Peterson and other religious observers are now eager to take part in a new creation story of sorts: Local initiatives held in places of worship and educational institutions are positioning Seattle as a testing ground for the intersection of AI and religion.

The discussion on transhumanism drew members of the community unaffiliated with the church, including David Brenner, the board chair of Seattle-based organization AI and Faith. The consortium membership spans across belief systems and academic institutions in an effort to bring major religions into the discussion around the ethics of AI, and how to create machines that evoke human flourishing and avoids unnecessary, destructive problems, Brenner said in an interview at the church. As Brenner spoke, a few congregants remained in the basement to fervently chat about the symposium.

The questions that are being presented by AI are fundamental life questions that have now become business [ones], said Brenner, a retired lawyer. Values includinghuman dignity, privacy, free will, equality and freedom are called into question through the development of machines.

Should robots ever have rights, or is it like giving your refrigerator rights even if they can function just like us? Brenner said.

Religious leaders around the world are starting to weigh in. Last April, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission the public-policy section of the Southern Baptist Convention published a set of guidelines on AI adoption that affirms the dominion of humans and encourages the minimization of human biases in technology. It discourages the creation of machines that take over jobs, relegating humans to a life of leisure devoid of work, wrote the authors.

In a speech to a Vatican conference in September, Pope Francis echoed the guidelines sentiment by urging tech companies and diplomats to deploy AI in an ethical manner that ensures machines dont replace human workers. If mankinds so-called technological progress were to become an enemy of the common good, this would lead to a form of barbarism dictated by the law of the strongest, he said, according to The Associated Press.

On the other hand, some faith perspectives have cropped up in recent years that hold AI at the center of their value systems. Former Google and Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski formed Way of the Future church in 2017 with the aim of creating a peaceful transition into an imminent world where machines surpass human capabilities. The churchs website argues thathumanrights should be extended to machines, and that we should clear the path for technology to take charge as it grows in intelligence.

We believe it may be important for machines to see who is friendly to their cause and who is not, the websitewarns.

But Yasmin Ali, a practicing Muslim and AI and Faith member, has seen AI used as a tool for good and bad. While Ali believes technology can make peoples lives easier, she has also seen news reports and heard stories from her community about such tools being used to profile members of marginalized communities. China, for instance, has used facial-recognition technology to surveil Uighur Muslim minorities in the western region, according to a recent New York Times investigation.

I think we need to get more diversity with the developers who provide AI, so they can get diverse thoughts and ideas into the software, Ali said. The Bellevue-based company she founded called Skillspire strives to do just that by training diverse workers in tech courses such as coding and cybersecurity.

We have to make sure that those values of being human goes into what were building, Ali said. Its like teaching kids you have to be polite, disciplined.

Back at Queen Anne Lutheran, congregants expressed hope that the conversation would get the group closer to understanding and making peace with changes in society, just as churches have done for hundreds of years.

Bainbridge Island resident Monika Aring believes the rise of AI calls for an ongoing inquiry at faith-based places of worship on the role of such technologies. She shared the dismay she felt when her friend, a pastor of another congregation, said the church has largely become irrelevant.

It mustnt be. This is the time for us to have these conversations, she said. I think we need some kind of moral compass,one that ensures humans and the Earth continue to thrive amid the advancement of AI.

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Seattle faith groups reckon with AI and what it means to be truly human - Seattle Times

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Mexico in 2030: Discover the Top 12 Trends to Drive Decision-Making – PRNewswire

Posted: at 6:44 am

For further information about the agenda and to register for GIL 2019: Mexico, please click here: https://www.growthinnovationleadership.com/mexico/2019/agenda-mexico

"Technologywill be a primary disrupting force, and the industrial, aerospace, infrastructure, and automotive industries will be predominantly driven by autonomous applications endorsed by technological advancements, such as 5G, 6G, blockchain, quantum computing, connected vehicles, the sensorization of devices, wearable devices, digital currency, personal robots, and flexible electronics," said Lorena Isla, Managing Director, Mexico at Frost & Sullivan. "These disrupting forces will have a major impact on various industries and change the way we live, communicate, and conduct business."

The global Frost & Sullivan team and pioneering industry leaders will discuss the roadmap for Mexico's enterprise-wide digital transformation, as well as the relationship between technological development, talent and processes to stimulate innovation. Confirmed speakers include:

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Join us and be a part of what makes GIL a powerhouse of ideas and meaningful connections: Its participants!

Our Strategic PartnersCisco and Telcel,Gold Sponsors Nuance and Softtek, Silver Sponsors IBMand VerintandLocal Partners CANIETI, EGADE Business School and Endeavor will support us through this digital transformation journey.

About Frost & Sullivan

Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today's market participants. For more than 50 years, we have been developing growth strategies for the global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector and the investment community. Contact us: Start the discussion

Contact:Francesca ValenteGlobal Corporate Communications DirectorE:Francesca.Valente@frost.comP: +1 (210) 348.1012https://ww2.frost.com/

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Terminator: Dark Fate Arnie’s back, but he should have stayed away – The Irish Times

Posted: October 24, 2019 at 11:18 am

Gabriel Luna and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator: Dark Fate. Photograph: Paramount Pictures

Film Title: Terminator: Dark Fate

Director: Tim Miller

Starring: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta

Genre:

Running Time: 0 min

The verdict is in! Terminator: Dark Fate is the best Terminator sequel since Terminator 2: Judgement Day! Sadly, thats such a low bar an Olympian limbo dancer couldnt make their way under it. Lest we forget: there are time-lapse rotting fruit videos that offer more thrills than the miscast, misspelled Terminator: Genisys.

Interestingly, there has been rather less shade thrown at this new gender-swapped Terminator than say, the gender-swapped Ghostbusters. But why? From the get-go, this new film is all about diversity: Linda Hamiltons Sarah Connor gets to say Ill be back; theres a new politicised trans-human lady Terminator, plus a Latina hero and her Latino Terminator nemesis.

Not Hollyweird liberal enough for your tastes? Avert your eyes spoiler police. How about an ICE centre breakout? How about an old-school Terminator recast as a nappy-changing hausfrau?

The sixth film in the sequence glosses over past franchise atrocities by pitching itself as a sequel to Judgement Day. Whats that? You spent good money going to see Rise of the Machines? Well, thats no longer canonical. No refunds, suckers. Skynet never happened. The Sarah Connor Chronicles? You have wasted hours of your life, comrade, because none of those things happened either.

Dont you remember Terminator 2: Judgement Day? When Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and the repurposed T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) cancelled the annihilation of humanity? That was really real, as is a new alternate timeline in which another AI menace has taken over and the fate of humanity now rests with a Mexican car factory worker named Dani. Enter lady cyber-soldier Grace (Mackenzie Davis) from the future to save Danis ass from a New Improved Terminator (Gabriel Luna). Enter hard-bitten Hamilton (welcome back!) to save both their asses. Enter Arnie to save everyone.

Working from a story and screenplay written by enough people to pull up a circus tent, Deadpool director Tim Millers reimagining has plenty of commendable progressive ideas and well-choreographed fight scenes. As a retro popcorn entertainment it passes by at a clip. As a nostalgic haze it improves greatly with Arnies arrival. It helps that the gazillion screenwriters have actually supplied him with some deadpan zingers or anti-zingers earlier attempts at banter between Davis and a wasted Hamilton are underwritten at best.

Its fine for two hours. But all the diversity window dressing cant hide Dark Fates inconsequentiality. It has no real point or purpose beyond triggering a Proustian feeling for the first two films in the franchise.

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Do transhumanists need their own bill of rights? – Quartz

Posted: October 23, 2019 at 9:41 am

In todays future-facing era, phenomena once relegated to the world of science fiction are starting to edge their way into reality.

We have scientists growing brains from stem cells in petri dishes; robots are being granted national citizenship; virtual intelligences experience and expressanger.

For the past 50 years, the microprocessorthe chip that processes information in a computerhas doubled in capacity at least everyyear to two years. Experts predict that machine intelligence will be smarter than humans by 2030.

So heres my question: When the machines weve created possesses an intelligence that equals ours, will they deserve our protection?

Will they desire it? Maybe even demand it?

This should be your question, too. Because in a little longer than a decades time, well need answers if want to avert moral and civil rights mishaps.

Futurists and technologists have been working to prepare the world for radical new sapient technologies and intelligences with publications such as the Cyborg Bill of Rights V1.0 which advocates equality for mutants.

Beyond the microprocessor, instrumental in catapulting machine intelligence to new levels through its ever-increasing speed for calculations, weve seen accelerating advances in genetic editing, stem-cell research, and 3D bioprinting, each which will help to create entities that have both consciousness and intelligence. This year 3D bioprinting has come so far that a team of Israeli scientists were able to successfully print part of a human heart.

Netflix released a popular four-part documentary series called Unnatural Selection on the topic.

Scientists are already wading into murky waters when it comes to the rights of these new intelligent organisms that we create. AtYale University brains from deceased pigs are being stimulated in a vat, which has prompted controversy in the animal rights world.

Do the brains of these animals, once dead, now represent live animals? And if so, do they receive the same legal rights that have informed laws that protect animals against harmful animal testing and animal cruelty?

As a result of these emerging ethical issues, were seeing more debates about new terms of futurist-oriented rights.

But the fact remains that there are few, if any, actual rules for most of our new scientific realities.

This is largely what inspired me to come up with theTranshumanist Bill of Rights, which Wiredpublished in full in 2018. The document recently underwent its third rendition via crowdsourcing.

When the machines weve created possesses an intelligence that equals ours, will they deserve our protection?

Like many of the cyborg bills that existthere are about half a dozen significant ones floating around the internetthis bill includes legal protections for thinking robots, gender explanations for virtual intelligences, laws for genetically engineered sapient creatures, defense of freedoms allowing biohackers to modify their bodies, and many other protections. It even includes policies to fight off environmental destruction and planetary existential threats such as asteroids, plagues, nuclear war, and global warming.

In 2015, Iwalked up to the US Capitol building holdinga single-page print out of the document I had written. The machine gun-toting police standing guard just feet away from me threatened arrest, but there was little need; the taped-on page quickly fell off the building, fluttered off the wall in the wind.

I wasnt arrested. The police and journalists surrounding me chuckled at the bungled ceremonial moment.

I recall that I couldnt help but smile myself at the idea of getting a futurist bill of rights to become a fixed part of US governing policy at the time.

But four years later, with machines showing ever increasing sophisticationhumans are even marrying robotsin some parts of the worlda bill of rights is not as wild as it once sounded. We could easily say the same for genetically-modified babies being born, which happened for the first time inChinalast year.

In my work, I meet with people around the world who are interested in answering not if we need a futurist bill of rights, but when we will need it, from Harvard Universitys Kennedy School of Government to theCato Institute to theWorld Economic Forumto European ministries.

If you look through the various cyborg-inspired bills of rights already out there, youll find that a major goal is to include cyborg and transhumanist rights in the UNs 1948Universal Declaration of Human Rights one day.

The ideas of personhood, a right to education, and freedom of speech were once considered unattainable in some countries. Now these basic human rights are common, and at least some of this change is due to the powerful legal influence of the UNs universal bill, often seen as a blueprint for governments and laws around the globe.

Interestingly, one of the challenges of getting a transhumanist bill of rights taken seriously comes from minorities groups, when its perceived that futurist rights will undermine movements of historically marginalized peoples. While plenty of transhumanists are members of the LGBTQ community, the community has been reluctant to wander intofuturist LGBTQissues, such as nongender roleplaying as different species in virtual environments.

LGBTQ friends of minewhile often sympathetic to transhumanist goalshave told me that they believe that after their historic quest for rights in America especially, they still need to focus on progress for their own movement and its goals. They perceive a futurist bill of rights as a distraction.

I respect and agree with this. Minorities in the US and around the world face social discrimination and violations of rights that warrant our attention. But it wont slow down the trajectory of radical technologies, which is spurring a growing futurist community to call for its own set of rights, rules, and protections.

I understand that at times it seems preposterous to believe the world will need to consider whether super intelligentrobots can vote, or whether human heads can betransplantedto waiting tech-engineered bodies, or if four years of college education canbe downloadedinto human brains.

But these realities are likely to occur long before the century is out.

If society doesnt accept that new sapient lifeformswhether its an autonomous digital avatar living in a supercomputer, or a biological creature with human-level intelligence that genetic editing createdalso need rights, or that new forms of engineered conscious intelligences will walk among humans on Earth as a result of scientific progress, society will undergo another wave of civil strife as we scramble to play catch-up to whats fair and moral.

At the very least, societies and governments need more comprehensive plans to formally deal with these new realities. That begins with a Congressional dialogue and forming preliminary legal documents outlining potential rights for the evolving future.

Ultimately, it comes down to how humans believe new intelligent life deserves to be treated.

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The finale issue of House of X/Powers of X: We dig into every detail – Polygon

Posted: October 13, 2019 at 12:48 pm

Marvels House of X/Powers of X event is complicated, full of references to the X-Men past and hints at the X-Men future. Jonathan Hickman, R. B Silva, and Pepe Larraz are delivering a beautifully rendered and textually dense reinvention of one of the biggest franchises in comics history.

Thats too much for just one comics editor to dig into, so we reached out to the folks at the Xavier Files, whose in-depth annotations of House of X and Powers of X impressed us, educated us, and entertained us. Now you can enjoy the Xavier Files Hox Pox Tox right here on Polygon so crack open your copy of House of X #4, and read along! (You can find the first three annotations here).

In this oversized finale, Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva, Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia, and David Curiel reveal the nefarious truth behind all of Moiras lives. Explained by The Librarian in X, mutants are only the next organic step in evolution. Transhuman experimentation through robotics and genetic manipulation pushed human evolution past mutants. Mutants will always lose. Hearing this in her Sixth Life, Moira relays the ugly truth to Xavier back on the park bench of X0, and they begin their mission to beat the odds. In her Krakoan No-Place, Moira clashes with Xavier and Magneto, as she has her whole life. They know mutants may lose, but they wont lose without a fight.

Robert Secundus: I dont know what to say; this is the end. Im excited to dive in one last time.

Chris Eddleman: Rob, were finally at the end. Weve been writing about HoXPoX for twelve weeks now, looking frankly far too closely at this series. Weve talked biology, theoretical physics, philosophy, religion, art, and history. Ive said it many times that its great to see a creative team inspired by a wide range of topics and this might be one of the widest. And to the readers, weve loved your response and your correspondence its been really fun being in the HoXPoX community for the duration of this run. So, we hope youre game for our last go but I figure you are, youve been game for 12 weeks.

[Ed. note: Its a double-sized finale boys, we need to get started.]

CE: Our final epigraph from Xavier (still called Alpha, which after this issue will seem very silly) reminds us that while were at the end of this double miniseries, the journey is really only beginning with this new era of X-Men.

RS: That the title of the final chapter of Powers Of X is House of X really emphasizes the fact that these are two series only in marketing, not in reality. Its also appropriate because, in many ways, this issue concerns recursion and returning to beginnings.

CE: Plus, as X-Men has taught us so often the X can be, and will be, ten. In this case, it refers to House of Ten, meaning the House of Moira. As this issue will go on to state, its really all her plans that have led to this moment, despite setbacks from the other players.

RS: I cant believe that the final twist is It was pronounced House of Ten, actually.

CE: Grant Morrison would be proud.

RS: I expect the flashback sequence to PoX #1 to be fairly controversial, but I really like it. I like that we dont just get a sequel, but we get to see this scene play out again in fuller context. Every single reader, not just those who stop, go back, and pick up the older comics, now experiences that moment again in its full light.

CE: Its interesting to me that the Page 4 has an addition, which just gives us another panel of a very happy Charles Xavier. I guess that hammers home how naive he is prior to meeting Moira in her tenth incarnation. He has a very simple, and to him, achievable dream of mutant coexistence with humanity. This contrasts with Moira, who has seen with her own death, the death of that dream over and over again.

CE: While it could just be the fact that its a jungle, the Preserve to me looks very Krakoan. I wonder if Librarian and friends created this to resemble Krakoa as a sort of comfort to the mutants. Also, of note, its a Preserve of many species. Im guessing the blue folks have done much to the biome of Earth at large that requires extra preservation. I mean, tomorrow its going to be eaten so its a moot point.

RS: Here we start to see that weve misunderstood the nature of the Preserve, the New Eden, from PoX #1 onwards, as those background figures are not those of humans. We approached the Eden from an incorrect paradigm, one that assumed that mutants and humans were a simple dichotomy, and that transhuman individuals belonged to the latter species.

CE: I feel like we were certainly led to believe that. But of course, we X-Men fans like to think of mutants as the evolutionarily superior branch. In fact, in Powers of X #1, Nimrod the Greater says to the Librarian Homo sapiens, so glad to be done with all of that, which cued us to believe those were the ones in the preserve. It was a good swerve. [Ed. note: Though it brings up the question of if post-humans see much difference between Homo sapiens and Homo superior.]

RS: At first, a disembodied voice from the Edenic trees begins to talk about freedom, and raging against ones masters, against the creators of that Eden. Logan is this Edens Miltonic Satan, it seems, and Moira its Lilith, or else they are its Adam and Eve, about to receive knowledge that will lead to their death and expulsion from the garden.

CE: We are reminded how much Wolverine hates to be caged, to be deprived of his freedom in this zoo. [Ed. note: Also how much he loves overthrowing authority figures!]

CE: Its really odd to me after seeing the theoretically benevolent, sometimes childlike Librarian looking like the bad guy, but that was of course more clever storytelling to play with our expectations. Its brilliant.

CE: The Librarian uses the morally kind excuse for incarceration preservation (or protection), when of course he really just cant kill Moira, and wants to know her plans. He is 1000 years of petty, I suppose.

CE: The Librarian reminds us of the entire X storyline- the Ascension of the post-human civilization to godhood, in the convoluted getting eaten and absorbed method. The Librarian dreams of existing outside space and time not immortality exactly, but complete omniscient permanence. [Ed. note: Thankfully, someone understands whats going on in X.]

RS: Two important things to note about intra-singularity aeviternity. If Moiras powers do annihilate the timeline, then mutants are safe, but if her consciousness merely travels back and splits the timeline, the Dominions still know about Moira, and are likely coming for her. Even if they annihilate the timeline, being-in-a-black-hole unsticks you from that timeline, and so Cardinal, Xorn, Dougkoa, and Rasputin may be coming to Life X (Main X-Men continuity), but so may Nimrod and an entire machine Earth. [Ed. note: Of course, they may all be part of a Dominion godhead now, which seems dangerous.]

CE: The Librarian likely wants nothing more than to be rid of Moira, but he absolutely must preserve her until godhood. This very much smacks of bad guy explaining his scheme which as we see carries a purpose. In this Garden of Eden, our zookeeper needs to undergo a confession.

CE: In case you thought that we werent philosophical enough, the Librarian is getting into the meaning of existence. He seems to be implying that existence within the Dominion is merely a simulation, the idea of which puzzles contemporary scientists. [Ed. note: As well as teens who just saw The Matrix for the first time.] Is this nature of existence simply what our senses tell us? Could a manufactured existence be just as real as a material existence? Hes very afraid to find out. I noticed he keeps referring to himself as post-human, which seems to be a coping mechanism to try to escape his very human fear of having his existence compromised.

RS: This gets at older philosophical and theological problems too; how can an immaterial soul in heaven, someones pure essence, their form, without individuating matter, maintain an independent existence in a heaven? How can an individual remain an individual after deification? How can individual humanity retain any identity when it is one human drop among the endless eternal ocean of god?

RS: Homo novissima would be latin for the Last Man. [Ed. note: Not to be confused with the comic book.]

CE: Our robot friend Nimrod spoke quite a bit of his own inevitability. Here we have an argument between Moira, Wolverine, and the Librarian about what existence is truly inevitable, and mutantkinds place in it. This harkens back to the Orchis Protocol, which activated when the inevitability of mutants became a growing concern.

RS: Whats thematically happening here is really interesting in two ways. First of all, PoX is picking up something that was inherent to the original X-Men but quickly dropped. Mutants were, originally, written as the Children of the Atom, as a species that in part resulted from humanitys dominance over nature, over its ability to control even the basic building blocks of our universe. Here its just the post-humans who get to claim that role.

Second of all, its building on the thematic concerns of Morrisons New X-Men. Morrison was primarily interested in using the Mutant Metaphor as a means to explore not oppression but evolution, and not just biological but societal, cultural, and even cosmic evolution. This grand design unites both of those concerns. Humanitys triumph over evolution allows them to oppress mutants, and the evolution of machine intelligences into gods grants them power over the entire universe.

CE: A great deal of this series seems to be dealing with machine intelligence, and the story deceiving us a bit into making them seem like a real threat. I like this reveal that machines are, as always, a tool that humans use in this case to oppress. Also, quite importantly, the vignettes we see are Project: Rebirth (the creation of Captain America) as well as a showcase of the Omega Sentinel. The definition of engineered post-humans includes the rest of the Marvel Universe, which seems to put mutants at odds with other superheroes. But, please, God, no more Avengers vs. X-Men.

RS: Also, if Project: Rebirth is part of trans-human history, then so should be the following Weapon Plus program, which means that a number of mutants guest star in that story.

CE: Weapon Plus was recently featured in a one-shot as well. It would be interesting to see if theres going to be any connection coming up with the Dawn of X titles. [Ed. note: There is an upcoming one-shot tying into Absolute Carnage.]

CE: The Librarian, in all of his post-human intelligence, definitely gives the entire plan of humanity (which doesnt seem to change, timeline to timeline) away here. Very arch of him.

CE: And of course he pays for it here. [Ed. note: You sly dog! You got me monologuing! I cant believe it. The Librarian probably.] Its hard to become a small part of godhood with your head clawed into a tree. Its wild that Moira and Wolverine waited 1000+ years for this conversation, but it sets up her remaining lives. This is the high level plan that Moira needed to know, and she seems to be set on getting the details right as time goes on.

RS: Does he pay for it? I think, given his fears about Ascension, this might be what he really wanted, gruesome as his end is.

CE: That is definitely a distinct possibility. I have an odd feeling this isnt the end of our cerulean friends. But then again, I think that about all the stuff in HoXPoX.

RS: And so we get the major twist of the issue. As was popularly theorized, X is the life of Moira VI. With this blank filled in, we know what she was doing in lives VII and IX: trying to find ways to buy Mutants time, to get back those years and decades that the Librarian believes were key to Post-Humanitys victory. In VII she tries to end all Sentinels and finds them an inevitability; in IX she tries to find a way to keep Nimrod from coming online. She also learned of the nature of the Phalanx and the existence of Dominions in VI, which indicates that both Sinisters experiments in biological hiveminds and singularities in IX as well as Krakoan experiments in archived minds, biotech, and the great machines of society may be attempts to create Mutant Strongholds and Dominions.

CE: Not to mention his delving into chimera creation. This timeline tells us that mutants didnt realize or were too squeamish to delve into their own genomes. As we see in timelines IX (and X for that matter), Sinister breaks that mold.

We get another best there is at what he does reference. Remember, in timeline IX, Moira completes this line. Nice callback.

CE: The Krakoan symbols are M for Mutant in Homo superior, H for Human in Homo sapiens, and P-H for Post-Human in Homo novissima. The note under Homo novissima refers to a self-perpetuating cycle of technological (and in the post-human case, evolutionary) singularities. This shows how easily the post-humans blow past mutants evolutionarily.

RS: Just as House of Xs approach to Society finds antecedents in Hickmans early work (Red Mass for Mars in particular is structured around Bubers ideas), so too does Powers of X. Transhuman focused on an economic war between two rival conceptions of post-humanity, between the biological post-humans and technological post-humans. The former were strongly associated with the X-Men.

CE: I havent read Transhuman but that is completely wild. [Ed. note: Transhuman takes this into a dark direction that may be uncomfortable for some folks. So read at your own risk.]

RS: Poor Charles. I suppose a telepathically induced paradigm shift can be a bit of a Brain Freeze.

CE: Rob, he went from having a delightful day at the fair, thinking about his very nice dream of the future, only to have it blown to pieces. I would feel the same, probably. Love the change in lighting here.

CE: Moira is reminded us, Xaviers dream cannot work, and will never work. This is rather hard for him to grasp.

CE: Doubling down on the naivety of Xavier. Even immediately after seeing the many ways that humanity wins and destroys mutantkind, he thinks little tiny changes can cause a rippling butterfly effect.

CE: And Moira quickly breaks him of that notion. The response of Its not a compliment is fantastic because it shows how frustrated Moira is. The theme of her frustration with partners that dont fully grasp what seems to be at stake continues throughout the issue.

CE: Moira begins her role as the adult in the room as the only one of the triumvirate that seems to really have their eye on the prize. Mind you, this is still Earth-616, which means everything weve seen every schism and failure, is all in canon after this knowledge. This speaks to the unyielding nature of Xavier and Magnetos ideologies. She spends literally her whole tenth life trying to bend them into place.

RS: At this point, is she older than Apocalypse? From her perspective, she may be the only adult on the planet.

CE: I think En Sabah is a bit older but, he spends a ton of time napping. X, as we recall, doesnt literally mean year 1000, just more thousands on a logarithmic scale. She could be incredibly old.

RS: Anyway, I think youre describing her role really nicely there, bending them, and that worries me. The specific way Moira frames the Truth in Entry 5, as a tool to be used given her circumstances, makes me think shes not to be trusted, that she has plans beyond what shes shown to Xavier and Magneto. Truth can be used to deceive, especially when someone has imperfect access to the truth, as she specifically notes that Xavier does here. She has perfect recall. He has limited perception.

CE: Eidetic memory can sometimes be horrifying and inconvenient for people in real life, and I cant imagine how thousands of years of it can affect you, especially in the limited perception of other people. Even after reading her mind, Xavier likely immediately starts forgetting parts of it, and as we know memory is incredibly malleable to most people.

RS: I wonder if Entry 14 is meant to make us think of Onslaught, or else if its meant to make us worry about the state of the present day masked Xavier.

CE: Gosh, it could honestly be both.

RS: Entry 17 mentions Primal Matter. This is the first time that phrase has appeared in HoXPoX and in our discussions, but it should sound familiar to you if youve been following other HoXPoX conversations. The Abyss has appeared several times in HoXPoX, and that is a common translation for (tehom), the primal state of the universe in the book of Genesis before creation.

Genesis abyss isnt pure nothingness, but rather is a kind of primal matter, which in turn may be defined as the most basic form of matter, out of which all materially existing things are composed. If youre picturing fundamental particles or superstrings, go even more basic. Primal matter is entirely undifferentiated. It is materiality itself without any kind of form. This phrase here is important both because it handwaves the metallic nature of Podverine and Archpodgel and because it points toward some kind of connection between Proteus and the Dominions.

CE: I wonder what this redaction is. Speculation though is kind of impossible. Moira alluding to breaking Xavier makes me wonder if were going to see any repercussions later.

RS: Entry 17 also implicitly retcons Moiras relationship with Joseph MacTaggert; his DNA is necessary for her plan. This also implies a retcon that somehow makes Xaviers relationship with his patient Gabriel Haller even less ethical; just as it implies that Moira sought out Joseph to create Proteus, so too it implies that Xavier sought out Haller to create Legion.

CE: Boy oh boy, that has some gross implications though unless the retcon is rather large on Moiras side. In Entry 22, Moira mentions the possibility of strongholds to Magneto, which explains why he makes so many bases and islands the finale of which is Krakoa, of course.

RS: Thats a carefully chosen word, stronghold. Its the name given to Machine Intelligences which have collapsed into a black hole, so here we have Moira connecting the idea of Krakoa to the end of that kind of existence.

CE: We have lost Magneto for sure references Mutant Genesis. This reiterates that all of the conflicts between mutants in the past were completely real, which is extremely good.

[Ed. note: For those of you who havent read the best selling comic of all time, Magneto got turned into a baby once and Moira messed with his genetic code in an attempt to make him less evil. Magento was upset when he found out.]

RS: Its the best kind of retcon. It doesnt eliminate past continuity, but rather it adds significance to it. Entry 57 is extremely troubling. If Moira and Xavier used a prototypical variant of the Pod Process to fake her death, then the process creates copies of the original person rather than restores them and Moira and Xavier killed an innocent sentient individual they created in order to further their plans. [Ed. note: Dont worry, they had a backup.]

CE: I wonder if they just kind of left a body? Moira did seal herself in a room while working on the Legacy Virus, leaving ample opportunity to escape. This retcon might be one of the most clean that I can remember.

RS: Odds on the city which Moiras No-Place opens to? Im guessing New Orleans, and Moira just loves her some gumbo.

CE: Its a little town in like, Ohio, where a cafe makes perfect corned beef hash. Anyway, Magneto bringing tea as an excuse is hilarious. Did Charles and Magneto discuss how they were going to break bad news to her, and settled on tea as an olive branch? These boys are goofs. [Ed. note: Mankinds greatest culinary city is Cincinnati, home of the best chili in the world.]

RS: Before we move on, those final two panels are suggestive, placing Moira in parallel with the masked Xavier, and cutting off her eyes. If anything in this issue frames Moira as sinister, its this depiction here.

CE: Smiling without eyes is a classic in comics for devious intent. I agree with your take here absolutely.

CE: The boys specifically say that they put the bad guys on the council to keep a close eye on them. Theyre well aware of the possibility of them doing something nefarious. Thats a cool detail.

RS: I dont know why Moiras so frustrated; it seems like a great plan, keeping an eye on the evil villains by giving them 50% of the governing power of this nation.

Uncanny X-Men #11 (2019) Matthew Rosenberg, Juanan Ramrez

CE: No precogs on Krakoa is a fascinating rule, and Moira seems to hint that its because Destiny can see Moiras lives. Blindfold, another precognitive mutant, recently died in Rosenberg and Cos Uncanny X-Men. [Ed. note: She fell into a depression and committed suicide after being broken by the inevitability of the mutant cause.]

CE: Magnetos rhyme is an adaptation of a German rhyme about procrastination Tomorrow, tomorrow, not today, all the lazy people say. Moira must be incredibly frustrated with the arrogance of the mutant men in her life. However, to some extent she seems hopelessly pessimistic, even with all her planning.

CE: The boys remind Moira how great she is, as they also undercut her wishes. But even in their praise of her, they also puff themselves up, stating basically that Moira is no longer necessary. This plays interestingly with her Journal Entries, through which we learn the ways she tries to manipulate them. I like that Moira gets to have a complicated, flawed character. Its quite refreshing.

RS: It also plays with the previous version of this scene, which was also set against Xaviers narration. In that scene Xavier acted as though they were all equals and that they were all the dominant powers leading Krakoa forward. But here we see that the Quiet Council is just a set of pawns, and its their secret alliance, the power behind the throne, that actually matters.

CE: I am not ashamed of what I am was the tagline for the last issue. We close on the triumph of these men, and the start of our new status quo. We see a blending of their philosophies in both men, as even Xavier tempts to humans to try to stop them.

CE: Truly, a great ending coda. Mutants arent going away, and they will not be less than again.

RS: That said, Chris, I cant help but think of your observation about the Preserve way back at the start. When I look at this scene, of mutants flying into lively purple, golden trees, I cant help but see a resemblance to X. Our last image of HoXPoX is a very hopeful one, a moment of both celebration and defiance, but that visual parallel adds just a tinge of doubt to the scene for me, makes me worry that theyre still marching to their old doom.

CE: Normally we dont dig too hard into the reading order but, the code at the bottom says Dawn of X 19 and Arakko 20. Perhaps a preview of a comic or event from next year?

CE: Krakoan reads X-Men. Rob, I sight read this one. I have a problem. [Ed. note: Cant remember a thing from three years of Spanish but I can just read this made up language now.]

The rest of the Krakoan reads as the names of our Dawn of X titles, in order: Marauders, Excalibur, X-Force, New Mutants, and Fallen Angels.

RS: I struggled with coming up with the right words for our introduction, and Im struggling again here. How can we sum up this series? It was a wild experience. Never before have I looked forward so much to a weekly release. Never before have I experienced a comics community coming together to read and discuss and theorize about and critique and celebrate one comic.

CE: The sun sets on Krakoa, more darkly than before, and thus does our 12-week journey end. We got a conclusion of sorts, but also an incredibly engaging start on a brand new story and setting. The X-Men have been yet again redefined for the better, in my opinion. I want to see what happens in a world with mutants on top, but with the inevitability of human engineering looming. The possible plot threads abound as we close out this series, and Im sure well have lots to talk about come Dawn of X.

[Ed. note: Thank you for overthinking comic books with us for the last 12 weeks, and thanks to Polygon for bringing us in to talk about X-Men. Lets get a good rest, because Dawn awaits us.]

Chris Eddleman is a biologist and co-host of Chrises On Infinite Earths

Robert Secundus is an amateur angelologist

Zachary Jenkins runs the Xavier Files Media Empire and is a co-host on the podcast Battle of the Atom. Shocking everyone, he has a full and vibrant life outside of X-Men.

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Are LED lights and other techno-implants slowly turning us into the Borg? – SYFY WIRE

Posted: at 12:48 pm

You can sleep tonight, because we probably wont be assimilated into a colony of cyborgs who are more machine than human and call each other by number instead of their names. No one isturning into the Borg (like Captain Picardabove). The thing is that some transhumanists are willingly getting cyber-implants to fast-forward themselves into a future where man fuses with machine.

Transhumanists believe that we can upgrade ourselves through LED lights, computer chips and other implants that can give different human capacities an assist. Were already seeing this in the plans for Elon Musks Neuralink. Now an interview with BBC Scotlands The Nine has given us some insight into the people who voluntarily got LED lights under their skin for some cosmic sparkle or have chip implants in their hands that can open a car doorand already make keys seem archaic.

After engineer Winter Mraz nearly lost her life in a car accident that sent her to the operating room with a fractured back, ankle and knees, she had no idea how cybernetic enhancements would change her life forever. Her back needed to be bolted together, and one of her kneecap was so busted that she needed a 3D-printed replacement.

It if was not for my cybernetic kneecap I would not be able to walk, Mraz told the news channel. She also didnt know what she would be getting herself into.

It was the nearly fatal accident that convinced Mraz to get personal modifications unrelated to her injuries, like the microchips in her hands that can operate things as if by magic. She has a NFC (near-field communication) chip in her right hand that lets her phone, tablet and other gadgets share data. The RFID (radio-frequency-identification) chip in her left hand locks and unlocks her house door kind of like a workplace security card lets you open the door to the office. It also keeps her hand free for the cane she needs to get around.

Microchips are usually injected into the back of the hand like a syringe. When you really think about it, if you have a device like an Apple watch or Fitbit, microchip implants might freak you out right now, but they are (at least according to many transhumanists) the evolution of that technology.

If you want to see a really futuristic view of transhumanism, as in something that takes place in a fictional altverse where the cybernetically enhanced are at odds with the non-enhanced, read Steve Aokis Neon Future comic series. It will blow your mind.

(via BBC Scotland)

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Could a robot be prime minister? Machines will soon be smart enough to run the world, says futurist – CBC.ca

Posted: at 12:48 pm

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Canadians are heading to the polls in two weeks, but one futurist argues that one day we'll be casting our votes for a robot prime minister.

"At some point we're going to create a machine that's better than the human brain, and that machine is going to be better at running the planet and running the world," said Zoltan Istvan.

"You really have an opportunity here to maybe get what we can see as true leadership, for the very first time in perhaps everyone's lifetime."

Istvan ran in the 2016 U.S. presidential election under the banner of the Transhumanist Party, a group that believes in using technology to modify and enhance our intellect and bodies as long as no harm results to anyone else. He is not running in the 2020 campaign.

He said people he met along the campaign trailwere skeptical of the Transhumanist pitch, but argued that people underestimate how quickly technology is advancing.

He told The Current's Laura Lynch that "almost every single action that a human does, a machine can almost certainly do dramatically better."

"When you talk about running a country, you talk about governing for the greatest good," Istvansaid. "Amachine is going to have better algorithms."

He added that one benefit of robot leaders would be that they could improve over time, weeding out idiosyncrasies or issues experienced by previous iterations.

A robotprogrammed to lead wouldn't necessarilybe stuck behind a desk on Parliament Hill it could beartificial intelligence that you could access anywhere, like a smart speaker in your living room.

The implication for democracy would be that "in the future, an AI will be able to keep on millions and millions of close relationships with its voters base," Istvansaid.

It "might be campaigning right in your living room," he added.

"That's where this becomes really interesting, is a really direct relationship with a potential AI political leader."

Kerstin Dautenhahn, Canada 150 research chair in intelligent robotics, said she "would definitely not want political leaders to be robots."

She told Lynch that "we need to maybe be realistic on what machines are good at, and what humans are good at."

"AI is certainly very good [at] enhancing vast amounts of data, so for example, recognizing one face in a million different faces, or collecting data on people's habits and then recognizing patterns," said Dautenhahn, director of the social and intelligentrobotics research lab at the University of Waterloo.

"What machines are not very good at is common sense and general intelligence, so for example machines lack compassion, they lack empathy."

Dautenhahn said those common sense decisions are vital for politicians "because they are dealing with incomplete information, they have to make quick decisions, they have to make predictions."

"That's what people are very good at and it is because we are human beings," she said.

Istvan argued that decisions based on emotion can lead to "total chaos."

"That's why we want pure reason, pure statistical analysis," he said.

He told Lynch that "even if the picture is incomplete, a statistical analysis of that would make a much better decision than something that comes out with emotions."

"Frankly, the last thing I want is [U.S. President Donald] Trump to be emotional as he's making decisions with the military and things like that."

Istvan said the qualities needed for leadership could eventually be programmed into robots, but Dautenhahn warned that the people programming them could unwittingly introduce their own biases.

"I would certainly not vote for a robot because ... there's no such thing as pure rational decision-making," she said.

Dautenhahn acknowledged that humans make mistakes, but perhaps robotics could be used to help us make better-informed decisions, rather than just making them for us.

"I think humans are pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good in what they're doing, and they can certainly be complemented by AI, in areas where the AI is very good."

Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Ben Jamieson.

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Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic, Phill Jupitus and Johnny Ball to star in Festival of the Future in Dundee – The Courier

Posted: at 12:48 pm

Scissor Sisters star Ana Matronic, maths whizz Johnny Ball and comedian Phill Jupitus are among the headline acts at this years Festival of the Future.

As part of Dundee Universitys flagship celebration of art, culture and science, venues across the city will host talks, shows and panels for people of all ages across five fascinating days.

The theme of this years festival the second Festival of the Future is social change, and more than 50 events will explore this.

The festival has grown beyond its base at Bonar Hall to include collaborations at V&A Dundee, Dundee Rep Theatre and Dundee Contemporary Arts. Comedy clubs, exclusive film screenings and music and lunchtime concerts are among the arts events taking place.

Best-selling authors Christopher Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Mark Billingham, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste used to dishing up blood and gore in their books will be murdering songs for fun when they appear at Bonar Hall as the Fun Lovin Crime Writers on October 18.

Scissor Sisters frontwoman Ana Matronic is a transhumanism activist. She will be part of a panel examining how robots are shaping the world we live in, challenging prejudices around transhumanism and celebrating the potential of this technology.

Ana is also well known as the host of Radio 2s Disco Devotion and Dance Devotion, and will perform a DJ set at V&A Dundee on October 19.

Veteran stand-up and Never Mind The Buzzcocks fixture Phill Jupitus, who these days lives in the East Neuk of Fife, will be hosting this years Festival of the Future Comedy Club at Bonar Hall on the same night. He will compere a night of stand-up featuring fledgling comedians. Jupitus will also host The Courier Business Awards on October 26.

Legendary TV presenter Johnny Ball will visit Dundee to discuss The Wonder Of Numbers. Johnny has been a champion of mathematics for more than 40 years, opening up the subject for a popular audience with wit and wisdom.

YouTube star James Bruton, whose DIY engineering projects have captivated tens of millions of viewers across the globe, will bring his one-man (and robot) show to the festival on October 17. The former toy designer has an extensive background in robotics and electrical and mechanical engineering.

Journalist and broadcaster Paul Mason believes there is an all-out attack on values that have underpinned Western societies for hundreds of years, eroding humanity like never before. He will ask if the time is right to fight for universal rights, human-centric institutions, and the right to resist control of our lives by algorithms.

Special performances by Scottish Dance Theatre will take place at Dundee Rep, while families can look forward to The Whirlybird by Ecodrama, Slug by Visible Fictions and other events aimed at youngsters.

Dundee Contemporary Arts will play host to exclusive screenings of Schemebirds and Ken Loachs Sorry We Missed You, films that strongly relate to social change.

Programme director Emma Beatt said: This year we have such wonderful performances and music events as part of the festival. We are super-excited to welcome our guests to Dundee for what is going to be a fantastic five days of fun.

Vice-principal Professor John Rowan added: This year, in collaboration with partners including Dundee Science Festival, DCA and Dundee Rep Theatre, we will journey to Mars, discuss robots, act as a jury, create comic strips, learn how to recycle clothes and jewellery and experience cutting-edge dance and film. We have great writers and celebrity visitors.

dundee.ac.uk/futurefest

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Sports Man of the Future – The Good Men Project

Posted: at 12:48 pm

Im at a challenging place in my manhood. Im developed enough to know that sports dont really matter, at all. In a world threatened by global warming and profound political corruption, while being transformed by quantum technological advancement, the Super Bowl, for example, is so obviously irrelevant that even having an opinion about who wins is basically absurd.

I know this. I read books. I write plays. I publish essays like this one. Companies hire me to create their communications strategies. Im a thinking person, dammit. But I really wanted the Rams to kick the Patriots asses. And I dont even follow football.

My partner Bernie relieves herself instantly of any potential sports angst by simply switching allegiance to whoevers winning. Even the Dodgers. She has no idea why I object to this. Why do I object to this? Im a transhumanist. I see us using technology to take charge of our destinies, create abundance, and live unlimited lifespans. Why should we be subject to the whims of sports?

It helps that the hometown Phoenix Suns are so hideously, perpetually incompetent that I cant bear to care. But thats a bit like a smoker being too depressed to light up, isnt it? Eventually, things will turn around and then where are you?

Growing up in Washington DC, my oldest brother taught me to play basketball in fifth grade and I loved everything about it. The sounds alone quickened me the thump of dribbling, the sneaker squeak of cutting, the swish of a made shot. And I loved, just as much the movement the full court sprint, the change of direction, and the jumping, always the jumping, filling walls then ceilings all over the house with my fingerprints. I loved the ball itself, its size and heft and subtle texture, which spoke to my fingertips in a language that so exquisitely bypassed my brain.

I poured my solitude into basketball, even when asthma made my lungs feel like sacks of sand. When I wasnt playing at school, I played at the playground in my DC neighborhood. I idolized the lanky high school-aged black kids that played in that smooth style that is DC basketball. They didnt think and then move; they played at the speed of spontaneity, out of their minds. I wanted that freedom.

A little white kid, I looked like the type who worked tirelessly to develop a pure jump shot, his one ticket to be on the court. But I was at my best on the move, driving to the basket. This consistently surprised the black kids, who had their own stereotypes. Plus, who wanted to defend a whirling, wheezing white kid who played as if his very self-worth depended on beating you to the spot?

In high school, I finally outgrew asthma and developed physically. By tenth grade, I was winning trophies. I played in a kind of mental bubble, holding my brain at bay, so that it would not block me from moving freely through the game. I had my best games when I was sick; the weakness forced me to an extreme focus, which shut out thought entirely, and the points came in a seemingly automatic flow.

But one day the schools athletic director made a point of taking me aside to inform me that I wasnt as good as I thought and that I would never play at the next level. I had dreamed of being great. It may have always been just a fantasy, but I had already taken a little boys vision of being a high school star and birthed it whole out of my heart, so who was to say? I had the love and the legs, and I had no other dream.

But his words instantly jarred me out of that reverie. Perhaps Id never really believed in myself. Or maybe I just didnt understand where belief came from, thinking it originated from others who could be relied upon to accurately inform me of what I could and could not be. But now I know better.

Ive had brushes with real sports stars. I worked at the first PF Changs restaurant in Scottsdale, outside of Phoenix, back when it was the hot spot in town, when Charles Barkley brought in Michael Jordan, who walked through the restaurant like a god, as the Saturday night din noticeably lowered, heads turned, the air buzzing with awareness of him.

I brought the food to their table once, putting a dish of Orange Peel Chicken in front of Jordan. But the server whod taken the order had somehow botched it Jordan didnt want Orange Peel Chicken. The poor girl, of course, apologized profusely and offered to bring him what hed like. Everything was wok preparedit would only take moments. But he wouldnt let her correct her error, and sedately ate nothing while the rest dug in. Asshole.

I played basketball with the Hall of Fame Quarterback Kurt Warner at the YMCA when he was working his way back to the Cardinals from an injury. The first time I saw him, he was reading his leather-bound bible, waiting for his game. Kurt competed hard, sometimes dominating games, but he played clean and fair, more so than some of the regulars.

Of course, it doesnt matter who these stars really are; it matters who we are. This came to me recently as I was listening to sports talk radio on the way to a client meeting. I know, what could be dumber than listening to people who are so moronic they not only think and talk about sports all day, they get intense, even self-righteous about their utterly trivial perspectives on events with no inherent significance in the first place.

Ill tell you what could be dumber, its the desire to call in.

But they were talking about the freshman basketball phenom at Duke, Zion Williamson, and comparing him to Charles Barkley and Sean Kemp. No way! Hes like a young Dominique Wilkins, the Human Highlight Film, who played for the Atlanta Hawks in the 80s and early 90s, after a sterling career at the University of Georgia. Dont they know anything?

I didnt call in. The freeway traffic was roiling around me like a rodeo, which demanded my focus, considering my unlimited, tech-enabled future might be at stake. But it did make me reflect. I mean, what if the Suns, as a reward for their heinousness, got the number one overall draft pick again? What if they drafted Williamson and turned it around and became contenders? Would that make me any more of a human being? Would that advance me in any significant way as a man?

I dont know, but that 2001 World Series victory by the Diamondbacks was pretty sweet! But was all the suffering before and after made good by that one season of fulfillment?

While Im asking myself these questions another part of me, my cerebral cortex perhaps, which is supposed to give humans the ability to self-evolve and innovate, is trying to make the point that these questions are really irrelevant because its all joy or suffering by proxy anyway; because Im not actually a player on a winning or a losing team; Im just a guy watching. So emotionally, sports is just a simulation, like the Matrix. Its not really happening, not to me.

I may be overthinking this.

I get to my appointment and present the communications strategy. The client gets it, they love it, were good. Which is important. Because this is how I actually earn a living. Back to sports.

Driving home on the radio, theyre talking about the very scenario Id run in my own mind, with the Suns tanking so they could draft Williamson. Weird. Is this evidence of a simulation in action?

Another thought: maybe the car radio is the trigger. Maybe when we have self-driving cars and I can nap my way to appointments the future is going to be amazing maybe then I can beat this sports thing.

Alternatively, several decades down the road, because Im still alive and well, maybe Ill look back on this moment and be so evolved, so advanced, not just technologically, but emotionally, spiritually even, that the whole thing will seem like some kindergarten drama Ive so far outgrown I cant even grasp now what it was about.

Or maybe, just maybe, a millennium from now, Ill have lived long enough to see the Suns get their act together, and build not just a contender, but a champion, no a repeat champion, and it will all have been worth it.

Excerpted from Outlier Heart by Joe Bardin

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Ben Affleck Promises a Heroic Batman in ‘Justice League’ – TVOvermind

Posted: August 16, 2017 at 5:41 pm

Youd think that itd pretty hard for Warner Bros. to mess up Batman. Since his first appearance in 1939, he has proven to be DC Comics biggest cash cow. He has appeared in more movies, TV series and comics than any other character in DCs expansive stable of heroes: even the Man of Steel himself.

And yet somehow, Warner Bros. has screwed the pooch with Batmans most recent film version. Although Ben Affleck is perfect casting for the character, Snyders interpretation of the character as an angst-driven psychopath has turned many fans off from this version of the character.

Sure, Nolans version of the Batmobile a heavily armored assault vehicle was great in his grounded, more realistic take on the franchise, but the version we saw in Batman v Superman was nothing short of a tank used for mindlessly running over criminals. The same character who famously snapped a gun in half, saying this is the weapon of the enemy. We do not need it. We will not use it was seen in the movie blinding firing machine guns into crowds of thugs on multiple occasions.

He didnt just hunt down criminals either: he disfigured them. He would heat a branding iron and then burn his insignia into their bodies as a permanent reminder of crossing paths with the vigilante. But dont worry, its not like they lasted long in prison. It is explicitly stated that criminals with the Bat branding were killed shortly after being admitted.

This isnt the Batman I know: the one that I grew up with on Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons. Hes not some xenophobic madman screaming that if theres even a one percent chance that [Superman] is our enemy we have to take it as an absolute certainty. Hes a man who would stay with [Harley Quinn] all day, risking [his] butt for somebody whos never given [him] anything but trouble simply because he know[s] what its like to try and rebuild a life, [because he] had a bad day too once.

According to Ben Affleck, this is the kind of Batman we can expect going forward in the DCEU. Speaking in a recent interview, he stated that:

[Batman] started out with all this rage directed at Superman, because of his coworkers who had died in the fight Superman had with Zod. He was holding on to a lot of anger, in a little bit of an irrational way. Whereas this is a much more traditional Batman. Hes heroic. He does things in his own way, but he wants to save people, help people.

The actor and Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder have suggested in the past that this was always going to be the case. Theyve previously argued that we were simply introduced to this version of Batman at a particularly low point in his life, shortly after the death of Jason Todd, his most recent Robin, and that his character arc would involve him clawing up from that tragedy.

Thats all well and good in the abstract, but we have never been given any context for this character other than the off-camera word of these men during the press junket for the movie. We never see him before Todds death and are given no reason in the movies themselves to suggest that that is the case.

While Justice League is looking to be an increasingly sketchy prospect, this is at least the right direction to take this character. Hes not a superpowered lab rat, omnipotent alien, transhuman cyborg or a literal God. Hes just a man: the one member of the Justice League who really understands what it means to be Human, able to take down the bad guys just as easily as he can empathize with their victims.

Hes more than just some savage, blood-sucking animal, and its high time that Warner Bros. realizes this. They desperately need to put the man back in Batman.

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