Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ex Machina Is Science Fiction At Its Best

It’s no secret that I am a HUGE fan of what I’ve in the past called “classy science fiction”.  That is to say, sci-fi which tackles broader, more serious topics and how they relate to the human experience.  Alex Garland’s Ex Machina fits this description perfectly and captures the imagination whilst simultaneously offering a frightening and realistic example of the future of artificial intelligence. 
The movie stars Domhnall Gleeson as Caleb, a talented young programmer working for Bluebook, the world largest search engine.  After being selected for a secret weekend at a remote compound owned by the company’s founder Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) Caleb learns he is to administer the Turing Test to an exciting new humanoid robot with astounding AI.  Caleb learns his task is to see how he relates to “Ava” despite knowing she is a machine.  Over the course of the week, Caleb finds himself being drawn deeper and deeper into Ava’s psyche and begins to empathize with her situation.  Ava’s imprisonment inside the compound coupled with her apparent human like intelligence causes some profound moral questions in both the viewer and Caleb.   Particularly when Ava manages to short circuit the facilities security system and speak candidly with Caleb, where she reveals that all is not what it seems. 
Calling into question humanities right to create such life, Ex Machina crafts a beautiful reality; one which we as a species are fast approaching.  AI has long been a deep rooted human fascination and the film manages to capture the love and fear we are certain to have for these intelligent machines when we do in fact create them.  As is said by Nathan in the film, it was not a matter of if, but a matter of when. 
As you watch Caleb interact with Ava you begin to question how you would feel in the same situation.  Simultaneously, you’re left thinking about the broader question of whether or not you consider Ava to be a human equivalent.  If she looks, acts, and feels like a human both internally and externally, does that make her human?  Touching upon a multitude of these themes, the film does what any great sci-fi film should in that causes you to question the very essence of what it means to be alive while managing to avoid cliché.  After many great moments, the film’s ending is both surprising and exciting making Ex Machina one of the best sci-fi films I’ve ever seen. 

Songs from this Morning

1. Just a Girl - No Doubt
2. Grip - Jawbox
3. Misery Over Dispute - Waxahatchee
4. White Fire - Angel Olsen
5. Froot - Marina and the Diamonds
6. The Graduates - Speedy Ortiz
7. Nadine - DENT
8. Just My Luck - Laughing Stock
9. Targets Of Men - G.L.O.S.S.
10. Mulch - Gnards

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Apple Music Enters the Streaming Game

There's no question that streaming services are here to stay.  Just like they did when the MP3 revolution occurred, the music industry has been forced to adapt to the ever changing and constantly evolving technological landscape.  Services like Spotify and Pandora have been around for some time now and as more and more people have come around to their convenience and accesibility, it's becoming harder and harder for other platforms to compete.  While there has been some artist backlash against the current trends, most notably Taylor Swifts refusal to put her music on streaming services, most musicians are doing what they've always done, going with the flow.  The newest player is Apple who after being the one to usher in the digital music age, is rather late to the streaming game.  Their new service Apple Music offers the same type of streaming service people have come to expect: curated playlists, access to a massive online digital library, algorithms that determine new artists you'll like.  But where they differ is most notably in their incorporation of Beats 1 Radio, a radio station with shows by artists for fans.  Similar to Sirius XM radio, Beats 1 will feature programs by artists like Dr. Dre and St. Vincent alongside other programming. Personally, I think streaming services are destroying the personal relationship music has always had with people.  Much like everything else in our constantly updating technological world, it only serves to create a disconnect between fans and music while giving the user the illusion of increased connectivity.  More access and more content is not always a good thing. But that is a discussion for another day. Rolling Stone breaks down the new Apple service and lists it's pros and cons.  You can read their report below.

Apple Music: The Ins and Outs