I’m finally getting around to posting on last Saturday’s Masters of Science Fiction. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the beginning of the show, but even what I saw was wonderful, particularly as it relates to my current research on religion and artificial intelligence. A lawyer who is arguing the case that an android named Jerry is “human” does so by pointing out not its great intelligence (it was built with limited intelligence, to do things like eliminate mines from a minefield – being blown up in the process) but its similarities to us in being capable of lying, cheating, and selfishly sacrificing another android so as to save itself – as well as liking Christmas music. The lawyer admits that, as someone who believes in God, he believes there is a spark of the divine in Jerry, because just as we are made in God’s image and have that spark, those we make in our image have it too. The final voice-over by Stephen Hawking suggests that perhaps one day humanity will be defined not by the gifts we possess, but by the virtues we lack.
If you have already watched all the latest Hollywood releases and still have time to kill before LOST, Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who start up again, in the last few days of the holiday I watched two movies that were non-Hollywood and which both impressed me. One is called Sweet Land and provides a wonderful look at an earlier time in American history, addressing issues of prejudice but without being at all preachy. The second is called The Italian, a Russian film about a young boy scheduled to be adopted who escapes from the orphanage to see if he can track down his birth mother.