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Even J.Lo in a mech suit can’t save Netflix’s by-the-numbers AI thriller

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Even J.Lo in a mech suit can’t save Netflix’s by-the-numbers AI thriller

You would think that a sci-fi movie where Jennifer Lopez partners with a smart-ass, sentient mech suit to fight against her evil AI brother would be a little more fun. Alas, Atlas — Netflix’s latest attempt at a hit streaming action movie — takes itself far too seriously. It also fails to really dig into the complexities of the AI debate, despite essentially being a conflict between a friendly AI assistant and machine intent on a doomsday scenario. There are some funny moments, particularly the banter between Lopez and her mechanical companion, but every other part of the movie seems to be fighting against Atlas’ true form. This is a buddy comedy trying too hard to be a serious action flick.

Atlas takes place almost three decades after an uprising that saw an advanced AI bot named Harlan (Simu Liu) help liberate other machines, who then proceeded to bypass their security protocols and start a war with humanity. It’s a setup that echoes plenty of real-world concerns. Except, in this case, the AIs lose, and Harlan heads off-planet to lick his wounds — but not before issuing an ominous threat to the human population. Atlas (Lopez), the daughter of Harlan’s creator who essentially grew up with him as a sibling, spends the ensuing 28 years trying to locate precisely where Harlan went so the threat can be eliminated for good. The movie kicks off when she discovers that location after interrogating the severed head of an AI henchman.

The most important thing you need to know about Atlas is that she has grown to absolutely loathe AI and, by extension, most futuristic tech. She has the same fears many of us do (along with sci-fi characters like Will Smith in I, Robot), which are exacerbated by the fact that the tech around her can be hacked and exploited by Harlan and his associates. At one point, while briefing a group of soldiers, she says, “You can’t trust AI,” while handing out plans printed on paper.

This fear extends particularly to a device called a Neural Link (not to be confused with the Elon Musk-backed Neuralink), which lets a human mind connect directly to an AI companion. It’s a cool idea, but the movie never slows down enough to explore it in depth. Inevitably, Atlas finds herself with no choice but to use a Neural Link to connect to an AI named Smith (Gregory James Cohan) who looks just like Siri and is housed inside of a mech suit ripped right out of Titanfall.

This is what Alexa could look like one day.
Image: Netflix
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Contrived as it might be, the relationship between Smith and Atlas is easily the best part of the movie. Atlas is cranky and sarcastic, and because of his adaptive learning capabilities, Smith soon becomes exactly the same. The AI swears and makes jokes, dishing it out to Atlas the same way she does to him. The banter is genuinely funny, to the point that, even though you can see it coming a mile away, their inevitable friendship still feels touching. It’s almost worth watching the whole movie just for its heartwarming finale.

The problem with Atlas isn’t so much that it’s predictable (though that doesn’t help, nor does its painfully generic vision of a sci-fi future). It’s that the movie doesn’t lean into this strength. Outside of Smith and Atlas, everything else about Atlas is self-serious and dull. Harlan is the biggest offender, played with a stilted effect by Liu that makes him more boring than scary. In a future where AI bots can mimic human beings perfectly, it’s confounding that the most advanced machine sounds like an old GPS giving directions. Overall, there’s a lot of wasted potential. In particular, the movie’s premise is a perfect framing for current AI debates — Siri vs. Skynet — but doesn’t take the opportunity to say anything new.

There are already plenty of recent movies that explore a potential AI future with a heavy dose of sincerity, whether it’s The Creator, Dead Reckoning, or even Netflix’s own Jung_E. Atlas adds nothing to that extensive body of work. Even worse, it fails to capitalize on its one defining aspect. The comedic moments are the best part of the movie, and yet they can feel out of place buried under everything else. Atlas was a chance to take an urgent AI conversation and explore it in an approachable Hollywood package. It could’ve been fun and smart — instead, like a lot of AI right now, it’s neither.

Atlas starts streaming on Netflix on May 24th.

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Former head of NSA joins OpenAI board

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Former head of NSA joins OpenAI board

OpenAI has appointed Paul M. Nakasone, a retired general of the US Army and a former head of the National Security Agency (NSA), to its board of directors, the company announced on Thursday.

Nakasone, who was nominated to lead the NSA by former President Donald Trump, directed the agency from 2018 until February of this year. Before Nakasone left the NSA, he wrote an op-ed supporting the renewal of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the surveillance program that was ultimately reauthorized by Congress in April.

OpenAI says Nakasone will join its Safety and Security Committee, which was announced in May and is led by CEO Sam Altman, “as a first priority.” Nakasone will “also contribute to OpenAI’s efforts to better understand how AI can be used to strengthen cybersecurity by quickly detecting and responding to cybersecurity threats.”

Recent departures tied to safety at OpenAI include co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, who played a key role in Sam Altman’s November firing and eventual un-firing, and Jan Leike, who said on X that “safety culture and processes have taken a backseat to shiny products.”

“Artificial intelligence has the potential to have huge positive impacts on people’s lives, but it can only meet this potential if these innovations are securely built and deployed,“ board chair Bret Taylor said in a statement. “General Nakasone’s unparalleled experience in areas like cybersecurity will help guide OpenAI in achieving its mission of ensuring artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.” 

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Chilling fake of birthing 30,000 babies in eerie artificial wombs

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Chilling fake of birthing 30,000 babies in eerie artificial wombs

The intriguing yet fictional video, “EctoLife: The World’s First Artificial Womb Facility,” has recently regained traction on social media, likely due to creator Hashem Al-Ghaili releasing another fake video – on head transplants called “BrainBridge” – sparking discussions and raising questions about the EctoLife video’s authenticity. 

However, both videos are conceptual presentations and do not depict an existing facility or technology.

An image from the controversial concept video (EctoLife)

A thought-provoking concept, not a reality

The EctoLife video, created by Hashem Al-Ghaili, a science communicator and filmmaker, presents a futuristic concept of an artificial womb facility that claims to offer a safe and pain-free alternative to natural pregnancy and childbirth.

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The video showcases rows of fetuses in clear, football-shaped pods inside a high-tech building, accompanied by a narrator describing the facility’s capabilities.

However, it’s crucial to understand that the EctoLife video is a concept video and not a representation of an existing reality. Al-Ghaili himself has clarified that the technology depicted in the video does not yet exist, and the video is marked as a “concept” near its end.

artificial womb 2

Controversial concept video (EctoLife)

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Partial ectogenesis: A more realistic approach

While the concept of complete ectogenesis (gestating a fetus entirely outside the womb) remains a distant possibility, researchers are making progress in the field of partial ectogenesis. In 2017, researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia successfully gestated premature lambs in artificial womb-like “biobags” for several weeks. However, experts emphasize that these efforts are focused on potential life support options for premature human babies, not an alternative to full gestation.

WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)?

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ARTIFICIAL womb 3

Controversial concept video (EctoLife)

Sparking discussions and ethical considerations

While the EctoLife video may not depict a current reality, it has succeeded in igniting discussions about the potential implications and ethical considerations surrounding artificial womb technology. As scientific advancements continue, it is crucial to engage in thoughtful dialogue and address the complex ethical, legal, and social issues that may arise.

As Hashem Al-Ghaili stated, the main goal of creating the video was “to ignite the discussion about an emerging technology and to highlight scientific progress in the field of ectogenesis.” By presenting a thought-provoking concept, the video has sparked conversations that could shape the future development and regulation of artificial womb technology.

artificial womb 4

Controversial concept video (EctoLife)

BOSTON DYNAMICS’ CREEPY ROBOTIC CANINE DANCES IN SPARKLY BLUE COSTUME 

Kurt’s key takeaways

While the resurfacing of the EctoLife video has reignited discussions and raised eyebrows, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. The video, though intriguing, is a conceptual presentation and not a depiction of an existing reality. However, its creator, Hashem Al-Ghaili, seems to have a knack for sparking conversations with his thought-provoking, albeit fictional, videos.

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The recent release of Al-Ghaili’s “BrainBridge” video on head transplants has likely contributed to the renewed interest in the EctoLife concept. While these videos may not represent current scientific capabilities, they serve as a reminder of the rapid pace of technological advancements and the ethical considerations that must accompany them.

As we continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible, it’s crucial to engage in thoughtful dialogue and address the complex ethical, legal, and social issues that may arise. The EctoLife video, though fictional, has succeeded in igniting discussions about the potential implications of artificial womb technology, and these conversations could shape the future development and regulation of such technologies.

Ultimately, while we may not have artificial womb facilities like EctoLife just yet, the video serves as a thought-provoking glimpse into what the future might hold and a reminder to approach such advancements with careful consideration and ethical responsibility.

What are your thoughts on the implications of artificial womb technology? If a facility like the conceptual “EctoLife” were to become a reality in the future, what potential concerns would you have? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

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The Beats Studio Pro are down to $180, nearly matching their all-time low

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The Beats Studio Pro are down to $180, nearly matching their all-time low

If you’re not an audiophile and can’t otherwise afford to splurge on a substantial pair of headphones like the AirPods Max or the new Sonos Ace headphones, a pair of Beats can do the job just fine. The brand’s headphones consistently sound pretty good and have kept up well with the times under Apple’s stewardship. You can consider the Beats Studio Pro the pinnacle of the line right now, and the flagship over-ear pair are nearly matching their all-time low price at around $179.95 ($170 off) at Amazon and Best Buy. That’s only $10 more than the all-time low price we saw during Black Friday.

For example, these headphones are more adaptable than most across the mobile ecosystem duopoly currently ruled by iOS and Android. On iOS, they support key features like one-touch pairing, Siri, spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, Find My, and iCloud sync. On Android, you also get Fast Pair, Find My Device support, and automatic pairing and seamless audio switching between Android devices and Chromebooks. Plus, you get better active noise cancellation and transparency mode compared to the Beats Studio 3 they replaced, not to mention lossless USB-C audio (although you give up the aforementioned audio features when using it).

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