Peer Feedback based on presentations.
Presenters will present their research project in class. A worksheet will be provided in class to judge the presenters. Take notes on what was good, what was bad, and any further questions that you have for the presenter.
Final Course Reflection.
Last piece of homework. Due Saturday at 4pm and worth 5% of our grade.
Final Course Reflection
Female Roles in Science Fiction
- Women rolls in movies are improving
My Final Project
Steampunk and Architecture
- Criticism on real world efforts to build a steampunk inspired building
- Primarily mechanical in design
steam punk and architecture
Looking to the Stars
Hive-minds and Efficiency
- Hive-minds have different forms of leaders
- Social structures can vary
Minds of The Hive Variety
Robots in the Medical Field
- Robots will not replace doctors in the near future
- Patients recover from surgery faster when operated using new operation procedure
Science fiction often depicts a setting on a distant planet or galaxy. These kinds of setting usually have a planet that is sprawling with wildlife and foliage. They are often depicted with humans that can live and breathe the atmosphere without the heavy and clunky space suits we see on astronauts. That the force of gravity has the same effect on such planets as it would as if it had the same gravity as Earth. These planets are imagined to appear like another earth, or very similar to earth. The reality is that such planets are not so welcoming. Planets other than earth do not have many of the necessities for supporting life. Humans can live on Earth because it hosts the perfect standards necessary to support life on it. Planets do not inherently have such an environment. An atmosphere that shields the planet is an absolute necessity to live on the surface of a planet without special equipment. Despite this, some people still dream about making a home on such planets. With technological advancements in certain fields of study, such as space exploration, the dream is much closer to realization. While the sprawling green planets we see in science fiction is still far off, the first steps begin in a few short years. Using the information and data that scientists gain from the International Space Station and the Mars Rover, great minds have devised a plan to colonize a planet in the near future. The project is called Mars One and it is the most ambitious dive into a world that is unknown. Using previously obtained data, the project aims to send colonists to Mars. The first phase of the effort to colonize Mars is to use remote controlled robots to build infrastructure while human astronauts control these robots from orbit. By doing this, the astronauts do not need to risk their lives on the Martian surface to do simple jobs as construction workers. Once these structures and facilities are complete, then mankind may set their first steps on the planet. Not as simple explorers, but as its first denizens.
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Between working on the presentation, a project to finalize a video game, a project to create a working demonstration of a video game and studying for a final; I have finally done it. I have won! And I’m only saying that to give myself false hope so that I can manage to drag myself through my days while every ounce of strength I can get is quickly stripped from me. But I’m not here to blog about the storm that is drowning me. I’m here to blog about how my presentation is going.
After the peer reviews and the meeting with the professor I have redoubled my efforts to clearly define my stance/thesis/topic/whatever you want to call it. I am going to talk about how close we are to colonizing a planet. Science fiction enjoys showing off an expansive galaxy where humans can live on whatever planet they so desire. The topic I want to tackle the distance between the fiction we see in stories and entertainment and our reality. And to better pursue this topic I had to scrap three of the sources I used for my proposal and find some new ones. And you know what? I found them! I read them! I understood… most of it! So now I have some resources to draw facts from. The authors of these sources seem reliable and have a history with the topic.
I have a single minute presentation ready to go. So far all practice sessions with this has ended with me on the floor in a puddle of my own blood, but I have an impromptu speech ready for the lightning presentation. And by that I mean I have a card ready so I can talk about specific topics for about a minute. The presentation itself is probably going to be a powerpoint. I don’t want to kill myself by making things too elaborate so I’m going to have some facts and images up on some slides while I talk. So that’s where I’m at with my presentations. I hope that I can remain as a solid state of matter when the presentation starts.
Planetary colonization is a topic often discussed and explored in science fiction. The infinite expanse of space has made many dreamers wonder what possibilities lie in wait for us. And with a real world attempt to colonize Mars, the dream looks to be within our grasp. But this is still science fiction. What stops this topic of science fiction from being a reality. From the research that I have done there seems to be no end to the issues.
Science fiction often depicts a number of planets that are habitable. So that should mean that there are plentiful amounts of worlds that can support life. The sad truth to this is that such planets are few and far between. Life is delicate. Finding a planet that can support life is one of the hardest things to do. The fact that Earth can support life is similar to winning a few dozen lotteries. Thankfully we have technology. Our understanding of celestial bodes and their effects on our bodies continues to grow as we learn and explore more detailed discoveries. So how does our real world technology measure up to our science fiction stories? Assuming the story does not involve some ancient alien temple that just does so without explanation, this is done in a number of arduous steps. To be able to walk on the surface of Mars without the use of environmental suits, the planet would first need to support an environment that can support life. Behrokh Khoshnevis is a a professor in engineer at the University of Southern California and has given us his insight in the procedure to colonize Mars. In a CNN report he says that the first step is to establish key infrastructural buildings like landing pads and radiation protection. However the process is too dangerous and strenuous for human astronauts to go out to Mars just to be construction workers. These first few steps will require heavy labor on a remote planet that cannot support life. So the answer to this is to use robots to construct these buildings and facilities. Robots will play a key role in colonizing hostile environments like Mars. Given our current technology each motion the robot takes will have an 8 minute delay. While not helpful, it is something we can manage with our current technology. Despite this, it does mean that we can build infrastructure and other buildings without risking very expensive and skilled astronauts to the dangers and horrors of Mars.
Science fiction has a number of stories taking place on distant planets. An example of this is from the Borderlands series. The majority of the series takes place on the fictional planet of Pandora. There native wildlife have a habit of violently killing everyone who attempted to colonize the planet. So colonizing a planet that can’t support life may be a benefit if you do not have to concern yourself with native wildlife that enjoys new entrees in the local food chain. So the theory and practice of colonization is very interesting. It is the imagination of the infinite expanse of space and exploration. Then setting your roots down where few have traveled before.
After the initial proposal I realized I had a glaring problem with it. It doesn’t connect with science fiction. The proposal was just about planetary colonization and had no connection to science fiction. I thought to fix that in this revised proposal. Here’s the problem. I fixed it with a short paragraph. That’s not much of a fix, more like a patch job. It was also brought to my attention that citing my sources is a thing I should be doing so I did it. I drew a lot of this proposal from an interview that CNN did. Originally I wrote some steps that would lead to the colonization of a planet. I thought it was educated and well thought out. Then I realized that I was not an expert in the field and should probably look into a professional’s opinion on the topic as opposed to my educated guess. Thankfully the CNN interview is with a professor at the University of Southern California so that was miles better than the thought out nonsense that I came up with because I thought I was clever for some strange reason. So I used that interview to talk about the steps toward colonization. The interview also went into deeper detail about gravity and radiation but I thought that I was going on long enough about the subject and that I needed to move onto how this all relates to science fiction. When it comes to topics about science fiction I cannot find any sources that relate to science fiction and planetary colonization. To that I responded by trying to pull up a colonized planet from a science fiction setting that I have seen in popular media. The problem with that is the limit in my options. I prefer fantasy stories over science fiction so I don’t have that many options that I can think of. The only science fiction games I can think of are ones that my sister roped me into playing. The only two science fiction games that my sister has managed to drag me into and have something to do with planetary colonization is the Borderlands series and Destiny. The difference between the two is that Borderlands starts as a planet that can support life and involve colonists being destroyed and Destiny has this alien orb thing that makes all planets in the Milky Way a habitat that can support life.
Colonization has been a turning stone of many civilizations. It has been primarily been to the benefit of the colonists and unbeneficial to the natives. Now that earth has no place left to colonize all we can do now is look to the stars. Well the celestial bodies surrounding stars to be more precise. Humanity has only ever known a single planet. Actually we only know a lot about the surface and very little about beneath the surface and the bottom of the oceans. One of the best parts about colonizing other planets is the lack of native inhabitants. Or at least a lack of inhabitants that we know of.
As we humans scrape by the edge between survival and mass destruction, we search for new horizons. Preferably horizons that won’t see calamity. New lands untouched by human hands. That is the dream of many who are have dreams beyond our atmosphere and of people who are quickly realizing that earth is a lost cause and should think about leaving it. As far as I know, plans and preparations are being made to colonize the first planet, Mars. While we have a firm understanding of Mars, there exists a countless number of other planets to explore. It is often glanced over but such possibilities have been explored in the realm of science fiction. But the topic is incredibly complex and interesting.
There was some great author that wrote about laws that we should be binding to machines so they don’t kill us. I forgot the name of this author but he made three rules about robotics and it was really smart. Of course being humans, we make mistakes or poor choices. So what happens when a 0 becomes a 1? Technically it depends on the position of the 1 and what methods or variables call upon it and has the potential to change the whole program if you’re not careful. Metaphorically it means that something that was once impossible is now possible.
Westworld introduces its audience to an amusement park featuring androids designed to play as characters in an attraction. The initial conflict was an update, I’m assuming a Windows 10 update, to a number of androids. The update caused a number of issues with the androids and these androids needed to be recalled and analysed for further malfunctions. The main issue was that the staff were concerned that the androids would disregard a core program to not harm living creatures.
These androids have such human reactions. It makes me wonder if they will act like humans as a result. Humans are prone to acting against logic for a myriad of reasons. So what would these androids, which are nothing but logic do when a restriction is removed from them? This is a theme park where machines are hanging on to guns. Unrestricted robots with guns is something that I can’t imagine ending well.
What does it mean to have individual strength over people who stand beside you? If being in a herd of sheep is considered weak than why do wolves hunt in packs? Parable of the Sower is a story that revolves around a group dynamic instead of focusing on a single character. The group that has been dubbed the Earthseed community is filled with a number of people from different backgrounds and statuses. Both educated and uneducated side with them. Different people have different opinions about the Earthseed religion. But that is what makes this story so interesting. You can only understand a character so much until you have their entire life’s story memorized and than there’s nothing left to explore about them. Then there’s how they interact with other people. How do characters interact with other characters? That is something that is incredibly interesting.
As much as I would hate to make this comparison, I’m doing it because this is a discussion. The cast of characters look like a party in a role playing game. They get into plenty of fights, random encounters and loot everything. But it also has the same party dynamic that a lot of story driven role playing games have. People will tell each other jokes, argue, become friends and perhaps become lovers. This is one of the most interesting aspects of story driven role playing games. One of the primary selling points of Japanese role playing games is the story content and the way the game’s unique characters interact with each other. There are innumerable examples of these kinds of group dynamics, foreign or otherwise. And these kinds of interactions makes it much harder to see a character die.
Once you have built a connection or kinship with a character you tend to respect and value them. Than when for some reason that character dies you lose your mind. If you don’t do that then don’t judge me. Once I learned about a character’s story I either hate them or love them. When I hate them than I feel great. I feel like something great has happened. When a character I love dies I lose my mind. A game series called Fire Emblem has a game feature where a unique and interesting character who has fallen in battle stay dead. It’s recent titles have had a casual mode so that this no longer happens. When I played the games before this feature was implemented I was devastated. And it wasn’t because that character had a steel great lance on their person when they died, but a character who I have used to carve my way to victory just suddenly died. All those battles and close calls were because they were so helpful to me and my journey through the game. Now the later chapters of Parable of the Sower has killed some of it’s characters as well. Although I did not have a similar attachment to these characters as I did playing Fire Emblem, I felt that a story has ended. In my eyes, each character is a book. They told their story and that is the book’s history. As they joined Laura and her group of survivors I witnessed their story being written. And when they died their story ended. Unique characters and the interactions between them are something that I enjoy. And it is a great revelation when you witness their accomplishments and a burden to see them fall.
An internet show that airs on a weekly basis had an object that once said “There is no feeling more terrifying than hunger, and I hunger forever.” The first half of that quote is accurate for all living organisms, and some non-living organisms depending on how you define an object that needs to eat. The same show also said “Life needs things to live.” These two quotes are facts of life that cannot be avoided. So when there are living organisms that severely lack nourishment they have the tendency to act violently. Also if you’re curious about which show this is, it’s called Critical Role on Geek and Sundry
Parable of the Sower is a story about a girl named Laura who lives in a good neighborhood, surrounded by bad neighborhoods. Taking place in 2024 and seeing California in the state that it is in, the reader can assume that the society of the world has devolved and been morphed into something terrible. What we consider to be government services are services you are charged for. To be fair there is no indication that taxes are paid regardless of the effect of such services. And there is a clear separation of societal classes. A clean and healthy neighborhood is surrounded by what is essentially a shanty town with poor and desperate people at every turn. While the story follows Laura, who lives in a good neighborhood, there are desperate people just out of sight. In chapter 4 page 50 Laura writes in her diary, “We hear so much gunfire, day and night, single shots and odd bursts of automatic weapons fire, even occasional blasts from heavy artillery of explosions from grenades or bigger bombs.” The land beyond the gates does not seem to be a happy one according to this diary entry. Then in chapter 6, Laura writes about the break in. After a break-in of these at one of Laura’s neighbors, her father organizes a patrol to safeguard the neighborhood. Two weeks after the initial break-in, there was a confrontation between the trespassers and the patrol. Cory, Lauren’s step-mother, ask her husband “What do we do if they shoot you over some damn rabbits?” In response Laura’s father says “Live!” Laura lives in a community that values it’s humanity and protecting the peace they hold dear. Beyond is a world that wants to find food, like rabbits. While the neighborhood wants to protect human interests, the outside world is only interested in eating. They resort to stealing from others and, from the sounds of it, kill with automatic and perhaps military grade weapons. This feral enemy that the community fears has been driven into a desperate corner where they are willing to go to such extremes to get what they want.
There is a long standing board game that has recently risen to popularity called Dungeons and Dragons. While the game has a long history and complexity, there is only one aspect that I want to focus on. The alignment system. The alignment system in the game works in a 3 by 3 grid forming 9 boxes that form a single larger box. At the top is good, the bottom is evil, the left is chaos and the right is lawful. From this you have 9 different character alignments. For the most part this system is hated by many players, and there are a number of misconceptions and other aspects that are unimportant to the point I am getting at. What is so important about this is the alignment of law and chaos. Many people believe that chaos is bad and is associated with evil. However, chaos isn’t someone becoming wild and beast like. Chaos also means choice and freedom. Even if you break the law, you chose to break the law and you have the freedom to do so. A world where you are expected to follow every law is a world not meant for humans. Of course with laws, there is security, safety and peace. But, where are your freedoms? Laws are used to discard some of your freedoms in exchange for these. And why do people break laws? Of course there are circumstances that make people desperate, but there are those who desire the freedom to choose and to be wild.
In the story Nineteen Eighty-Four Oceania is a country that enforces so many laws that no one has an ounce of freedom. The party has stripped all its citizens of its freedoms. Of course there is the problem that nobody will even think for themselves, but the party has been tampering with documents. Our story features Winston, a man who has taken note of the wrongs of the party and feels frustration towards them for it. At the beginning of the story he purchases a diary and writes in it in hopes of venting his frustration. Unfortunately for him, this only enhances his frustration. After some time, he encounters a woman named Julia. Some time after speaking to each other they have a sexual affair that the party despises so. When Winston asks Julia if she has done this before, she tells him that she has done it with countless other party members. It was then he knew about the party’s corruption. The story tells us how he felt about this at the top of page 128. “Perhaps the Party was rotten under the surface, its cult of strenuousness and self-denial simply a sham concealing iniquity.” If there were countless men who slept with Julia than that means that he is not alone in his law breaking. Winston was overjoyed by this revelation and wanted to further his rebellious acts. He finds satisfaction in knowing that there are others who want to be free. He has found others who detest these laws and find glory and hope in freedom.
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a story taking place in April 4th, 1984. The story follows a man by the name of Winston. He works a government job in a country called Oceania. He works in the Ministry of Truth, where he destroys or changes records to benefit Oceania. This is a strange place, where children can arrest an adult and people believe anything the government tells them.
This government is seemingly absolute when it comes to oppression. Page 4 gives us their motto in bold text. “War is Peace,Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.” Page 35 has a passage in the first paragraph that details Oceania’s alliance and enemies. Winston who tampers with documents recalls that there were a number of alliances and enemies but because of Oceania’s information control Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.” In page 19 paragraph 2 you can see Winston expressing his displeasure with Oceania, or rather Big Brother, and has committed a thoughtcrime. This society twists information to benefit itself and goes as far as to make thinking poorly of the government a crime. There is no seeming relationship between war and peace or freedom and slavery. The only connection that can be discerned is that war is peaceful and that freedom is a form of slavery, but these connections are made with twisted logic. Finally there is the connection between ignorance and strength. The ignorance of the citizens of this society is definitely granting strength. Oceania hold all its power by keeping its citizens ignorant. Page 60 shows us how ignorant the citizens are.”It appeared that there had been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grams a week. And only yesterday, he reflected, it had been announced that the ration was to be reduced to twenty grams a week. Was it possible that they could swallow that, after only twenty-four hours?” And swallowed it they did. These people didn’t even realize that there was a reduction in their rations. They were simply told that there was an increase and they believed it without checking the facts or even remembering an announcement 24 hours ago. The government lied to their faces and these people accepted it without a second thought.
Whatever this motto is, it isn’t accurate. However, it doesn’t need to be accurate since all its citizens believe everything they are told anyway. If everyone is ignorant than there’s no need for anyone to concern themselves in war, peace, freedom or slavery. All anyone has to do is remain ignorant and you won’t commit the crime of thinking. Because even that is a punishable offense in Oceania. There is even a project to develop a language called Newspeak where it is supposedly impossible to express feelings of rebellion. Oceania is a completely oppressive government that takes away free will and expressionism.