Nerd Nite and Apollo Cinema Special Presentation of Ex Machina

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Hello all! It’s been a while since I posted, but things have been hectic in the realm of dissertation writing and conferencing. I wanted to post about a talk I did recently that was hosted by our very own Apollo Cinema in Kitchener-Waterloo, in conjunction with Nerd Nite KW.  What is Nerd Nite, you ask?

“Nerd Nite is a monthly event held in more than 90 cities across the globe during which several folks give 18-21-minute fun-yet-informative presentations across all disciplines – while the audience drinks along.  And there are often bands, acrobats, trivia, and other shenanigans as well.  Imagine learning about everything from math feuds or the science of the Simpsons, to the genealogy of Godzilla or zombie insects, while having a few or a few too many.”

I can’t say enough good things about this community of people. I’ve listened to a bunch of talks over the years in the K-W chapter, and have learned about a lot of cool stuff I never would have otherwise. The organizers were kind enough to ask me to do a talk on cyborgs and A.I. before a screening of Ex Machina, as this was to be their first event at a theatre, and I couldn’t resist. The newly opened Apollo Cinema hosted it, and not only were they incredibly nice and accommodating, but the space was perfect for the (admittedly kind of large) crowd that showed up.  Also, I got to see Ex Machina when I was done speaking, which was even better the second time around! Here is the abstract for the talk I gave:

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How Artificial Are Intelligent Machines? Exploring the Anxieties of A.I. in Cinema

Since the 1950s’, advancements in artificial intelligence (A.I.) have led to the creation of computers that can beat people at chess, drive cars, and manage/organize daily aspects of life. Robots equipped with simulated human voices, such as Apple’s Siri or Google Navigation make us think we’re engaging in conversational feedback loops with our machines, even if they’re one-sided. Yet, these are not the same as artificially intelligent beings – sentient, self-aware machines that can learn and grow past their programming, feel, or maybe even achieve “technological singularity.” Some think that these beings will surpass humans and endanger our survival, while others simply see them as inevitable. This talk will explore the shift away from “worker” robots to the creation of “social” robots, their functions, and their utopian/dystopian presence translating from science fiction films to real life. Directly after this talk will be a screening of Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, the newest in the ever-evolving genre of A.I. exploration in cinema, followed by an informal discussion.

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For everyone living in the Tri-city area, give Apollo Cinema a shot! They deserve a lot of support, because not only are they Kitchener’s only classic theatre (to match Waterloo’s Princess), but they serve craft beer and have little fold-out tables so you can enjoy your snacks and drinks during the movie, which has been sorely lacking in my other movie-going experiences, to be honest. They also frequently host 70s and 80s all-day movie marathons, so that’s a plus.

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