The worst thing about deepfakes is that we know about them

Roko's Basilisk is a notorious thought experiment regarding artificial intelligence and our own perceptions of reality, particularly as it relates to a hypothetically powerful AI. It's kind of like Newcomb's Paradox, with a little more Battlestar Galactica-style AI genocide.

If you want to know more about it, feel free to click the link. But be warned: the whole point of Roko's Basilisk is that the mere knowledge of Roko's Basilisk also makes you complicit in Roko's Basilisk. If Roko's Basilisk is real—a question which is intrinsic to the thought experiment itself—then the potential contained within that hypothetical idea is enough to sow the seeds to self-destructive doubt. And that's how Roko's Basilisk wins.

You don't need to know the specific details of Roko's Basilisk to understand how the concept could relate to the growing phenomenon of deepfakes—the manipulation of deep Learning technology to create deceptively realistic videos, like adding Nicholas Cage's face into every movie. The cybersecurity firm DeepTrace recently released a report on the myriad ways that deepfakes threaten our trust in knowledge, and in our own eyes. And their conclusion? The mere idea of deepfakes is enough to bring the worst case scenario to life—even if we never actually reach that worst case scenario in practice.

Nicholas Cage as Amy Adams, because Deepfakes.

In reality, deepfakes haven't actually been used to successfully falsify videos of politicians to use as large-scale propaganda; like most things on the internet, they're mostly used for porn. But the fact that they could be used to deceive the public is itself enough to make public trust spiral downwards, causing us to debate both what is true, and the methods by which we determine what is true. Read the rest

Battlestar Galactica's 'Muffit the Daggit' was played by a chimpanzee

The existence of daggits, the original Battlestar Galactica's space-dog, bought that show a special place in my heart. I just learned Muffit the daggit was played by a chimpanzee, named Evolution, in a really uncomfortable suit.

I spent a lot of years thinking "Galactica knew humanity couldn't survive without dogs!" not knowing they'd jammed a monkey in a hot suit to make the point.

Sigh. Read the rest

Deleted scenes from the best OG Battlestar Galactica 2-parter

While I enjoyed the first few seasons of the new Battlestar Galactica, nothing in it compares with the first run's 2-part story arc "The Living Legend" about Commander Cain, played by Lloyd Bridges.

Cain and the super cool Battlestar Pegasus have miraculously survived the destruction of the "Fifth Fleet," during the surprise Cylon attack. These badasses have been harrying the robots ever since. Unburdened by the responsibilities of keeping a rag-tag fleet of survivors safe, Cain and his crew are far more bloodthirsty, and out for revenge! Upon running into their old comrades-in-arms the Galactica, Cain and Pegasus have a hard time fitting into the new human society.

These 2 episodes were just wonderful. The side story of other survivors really expanded the Galactica universe for me, and Lloyd Bridges was such a contrast to Adama!

Today the Youtubes decided I needed to see these 12 minutes of deleted scenes. I am glad they did.

RIP Richard Hatch. Read the rest

Richard Hatch of 'Battlestar Galactica' has died. He was 71.

Richard Hatch, who starred in the original television science fiction series 'Battlestar Galactica' and the mid-2000s reboot, died today of pancreatic cancer. He was 71. Hatch was nominated for a Golden Globe award in 1979 for his performance as Captain Apollo in the iconic science fiction series. Read the rest

Battlestar Galactica: the search for Universals' Sci-Fi film franchise

Universal can not sit quietly and let Paramount's Star Trek and Disney's Star Wars franchises rule the roost! It appears Battlestar Galactica is due for yet another reboot!

The 1978 series was wonderful! Colonial Vipers were even sexier than an X-Wing! The subsequent "movies" were terrible, and the 1980 series a horrible mistake. For decades Battlestar was limited to the 10-12 VHS cassettes I'd found at a Sam Goody clearance. Dirk Benedict became the Faceman, and Starbuck was forgotten.

The 2004 reboot started strong! Das Boot in space! I was emotionally tired after each episode in the first season or two! I was hooked, and then the writers got lost. Where the fuck were the daggetts? The series, and its subsequent spin off Caprica, offered too much Carlos Castenada and far too little desperate-survivors-trying-not-to-die-in-space. I can't really remember the last few seasons, but I watched them, I think.

Now Universal views Galactica as a multi-film franchise. I hope they destroy the 12 Colonies of Kobol in an epic manner!

Via Hollywood Reporter:

Battlestar Galactica is getting another shot at the big-screen.

Powerhouse producer Michael De Luca is teaming up with Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark of Bluegrass Films to produce the movie for Universal, which is hoping to launch a massive event franchise.

Read the rest

The art of Grant Gould

Grant Gould is probably most well known for his Star Wars trading card art and illustrating two Star Wars books, Draw Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Draw Star Wars: Rebels. He's also the creator of the original comic series Wolves of Odin and has done awesome art from just about every fantasy and scifi series out there (and even some pop culture characters too). Read the rest

US naval analyst on science fiction space warfare

Foreign Policy magazine interviewed naval analyst Chris Weuve, a former US Naval War College research professor, about space warfare in science fiction.

Has sci-fi affected the way that our navies conduct warfare?

CW: This is a question that I occasionally think about. Many people point to the development of the shipboard Combat Information Center in World War II as being inspired by E.E. Doc Smith's Lensman novels from the 1940s. Smith realized that with hundreds of ships over huge expanses, the mere act of coordinating them was problematic. I think there is a synergistic effect. I also know a number of naval officers who have admitted to me that the reason they joined the Navy was because Starfleet Command wasn't hiring.

"Aircraft Carriers in Space" (Thanks, Todd Lappin!) Read the rest

HOWTO watch Battlestar Galactica

The rebooted Battlestar Galactica was great at first, then got bogged down as it became clear no-one involved had any idea where things were headed. Choire Sicha offers the essential viewing guide to watch from beginning to end without the crap bits. Yes, most of season 3 is gone. Read the rest