Artificial Intelligence — Thoughts on Ex Machina and Automata

A few days ago I watched two surprisingly good movies on a similar topic — how human future might be entangled with artificially intelligent robots. The first, Ex Machina, has a typically Hollywoodian feel to it — a totally implausible general setting and story-line, which reeks of idiocy. A genius programmer with a major hipster…

About How Self-Help Books kind of Piss Me off

I recently finished, in terms genre, quite a classical self-help book for smokers to help quitting – Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking. I had heard some good things about the book, so my expectations were probably higher than they should have been – it did have some good and valuable points, but these…

The new Star Wars: it is not a sequel, it is an “awakening”

The concept of a sequel usually means that a story and/or characters that are related to the previous movie appear in what is essentially a new film with a distinct plot. The original Star Wars movies were that, as well as the horrible disasters that George Lucas created later under that name. Indeed, this is…

Carl Sagan – Contact

Although I had seen the movie several times, it took me unjustifiably long to get to reading the book. I enjoyed the movie and especially in this case one could expect that the Hollywood machine would only ruin the original and that the book as always would be much better. Which indeed was so. Carl…

Insight of Classics in Party Literature

A few months ago I had the pleasure to (re)read some of the classics in the literature on political parties – Robert Michels, Moisei Ostrogorski (and yes, I did not read his mammoth two volume masterpiece in full, I skimmed through most and read just the more important parts) and some of the texts that…

Ancillary Justice, well worth a read

While looking for recent science fiction books to fill my evenings, I ended up ordering Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice (yes, I have decided to go back to reading books on paper). With the amount of recognition it has received, it is rather hard to not notice it. When I finally received it and started to…

Telling the Story of Science and the Universe

From the Great Library of Alexandria, where among other things much of the knowledge of Antiquity, rediscovered only a thousand years later, was concentrated to the Voyager spacecraft, the furthest from our plant that human artifacts have reached, the Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, nearly 35 years after it aired, is still an inspiring masterpiece of…

Where’s Your Mushroom Plot? 

The autumn is almost perfect here in Budapest and so it is easy for me to forget the few pleasures of the cold, gray and rainy Estonian autumn. But this article definitely captures one of them. Exploring known and unknown forests, hunting for mushroom to later cook them or preserve them — that is a damn…

Mainstreaming psychopathy

Although the idea that psychopathy is a black and white kind of a mental disorder will probably not go away anywhere, there has been quite a bit of chatter on the Internet recently about a different kind of a perspective on this topic. About the fact that it is not a condition, but a spectrum,…

Asimov’s Universe

A while ago I finished a late night project that had been ongoing for about half a year – reading all the 15 books in Isaac Asimov’s so-called Foundation Universe. This includes his collections of robot short stories, the four robot novels, the three empire novels and the seven foundation novels. All the 15 books…