• Mort de Philippe Curval : plus qu’un Monsieur de la SF, une “Tronche”

    Né Philippe Tronche le 27 décembre 1929, l’écrivain, illustrateur, connu avant tout pour son œuvre de science-fiction débutée en 1956, #Philippe_Curval s’est éteint. Il aura parcouru son chemin en compagnie des surréalistes, côtoyant des écrivains célèbres tels que Boris Vian et Topor. En tant qu’auteur de classiques de la science-fiction et de romans qui défient toute catégorie, il se distingue comme un authentique observateur de son époque et des changements radicaux qu’elle a connus.

    #SF #science_fiction

  • Sécheresse, pas vraiment une dystopie.

    Il y a sans doute quelque chose d’un peu masochiste à lire Sécheresse maintenant que le réchauffement climatique la provoque partout pour de vrai, mais il y a surtout quelque chose de fascinant au fait que J. G. Ballard se soit dit en 1964, à une époque où personne ne parlait du dit réchauffement et […]

    #Bibliothèque #littérature #lecture #livre

  • Give Every AI a Soul—or Else | WIRED

    Quand on demande aux auteurs de science fiction d’imaginer des formes de régulation, on tombe parfois sur des idées étranges... qui viennent certainement de la conception d’IA comme des entités “human-like”, non pas comme chaque humain (sentient et ayant un corps - quoique ce dernier point est évoqué pour les IA aussi) mais comme les civilisations d’humains qui s’auto-contrôlent.

    Why this sudden wave of concern? Amid the toppling of many clichéd assumptions, we’ve learned that so-called Turing tests are irrelevant, providing no insight at all into whether generative large language models—GLLMs or “gollems”—are actually sapient beings. They will feign personhood, convincingly, long before there’s anything or anyone “under the skull.”

    Anyway, that distinction now appears less pressing than questions of good or bad—or potentially lethal—behavior.

    This essay is adapted from David Brin’s nonfiction book in progress, Soul on Ai.

    Some remain hopeful that a merging of organic and cybernetic talents will lead to what Reid Hoffman and Marc Andreesen have separately called “amplification intelligence.” Or else we might stumble into lucky synergy with Richard Brautigan’s “machines of loving grace.” But worriers appear to be vastly more numerous, including many elite founders of a new Center for AI Safety who fret about rogue AI misbehaviors, from irksome all the way to “existentially” threatening human survival.

    Some short-term remedies, like citizen-protection regulations recently passed by the European Union, might help, or at least offer reassurance. Tech pundit Yuval Noah Harari proposed a law that any work done by gollems or other AI must be so labeled. Others recommend heightened punishments for any crime that’s committed with the aid of AI, as with a firearm. Of course, these are mere temporary palliatives.

    Un peu de SF...

    By individuation I mean that each AI entity (he/she/they/ae/wae) must have what author Vernor Vinge, way back in 1981, called a true name and an address in the real world. As with every other kind of elite, these mighty beings must say, “I am me. This is my ID and home-root. And yes, I did that.”

    Hence, I propose a new AI format for consideration: We should urgently incentivize AI entities to coalesce into discretely defined, separated individuals of relatively equal competitive strength.

    Each such entity would benefit from having an identifiable true name or registration ID, plus a physical “home” for an operational-referential kernel. (Possibly “soul”?) And thereupon, they would be incentivized to compete for rewards. Especially for detecting and denouncing those of their peers who behave in ways we deem insalubrious. And those behaviors do not even have to be defined in advance, as most AI mavens and regulators and politicians now demand.

    Not only does this approach farm out enforcement to entities who are inherently better capable of detecting and denouncing each other’s problems or misdeeds. The method has another, added advantage. It might continue to function, even as these competing entities get smarter and smarter, long after the regulatory tools used by organic humans—and prescribed now by most AI experts—lose all ability to keep up.

    Putting it differently, if none of us organics can keep up with the programs, then how about we recruit entities who inherently can keep up? Because the watchers are made of the same stuff as the watched.

    Personally, I am skeptical that a purely regulatory approach would work, all by itself. First because regulations require focus, widely shared political attention, and consensus to enact, followed by implementation at the pace of organic human institutions—a sloth/snail rate, by the view of rapidly adapting cybernetic beings. Regulations can also be stymied by the “free-rider problem”—nations, corporations, and individuals (organic or otherwise) who see personal advantage in opting out of inconvenient cooperation.

    There is another problem with any version of individuation that is entirely based on some ID code: It can be spoofed. If not now, then by the next generation of cybernetic scoundrels, or the next.

    I see two possible solutions. First, establish ID on a blockchain ledger. That is very much the modern, with-it approach, and it does seem secure in theory. Only that’s the rub. It seems secure according to our present set of human-parsed theories. Theories that AI entities might surpass to a degree that leaves us cluelessly floundering.

    Another solution: A version of “registration” that’s inherently harder to fool would require AI entities with capabilities above a certain level to have their trust-ID or individuation be anchored in physical reality. I envision—and note: I am a physicist by training, not a cyberneticist—an agreement that all higher-level AI entities who seek trust should maintain a Soul Kernel (SK) in a specific piece of hardware memory, within what we quaintly used to call a particular “computer.”

    Yes, I know it seems old-fashioned to demand that instantiation of a program be restricted to a specific locale. And so, I am not doing that! Indeed, a vast portion, even a great majority, of a cyber entity’s operations may take place in far-dispersed locations of work or play, just as a human being’s attention may not be aimed within their own organic brain, but at a distant hand, or tool. So? The purpose of a program’s Soul Kernel is similar to the driver’s license in your wallet. It can be interrogated in order to prove that you are you.

    Again, the key thing I seek from individuation is not for all AI entities to be ruled by some central agency, or by mollusk-slow human laws. Rather, I want these new kinds of über-minds encouraged and empowered to hold each other accountable, the way we already (albeit imperfectly) do. By sniffing at each other’s operations and schemes, then motivated to tattle or denounce when they spot bad stuff. A definition that might readjust to changing times, but that would at least keep getting input from organic-biological humanity.

    Especially, they would feel incentives to denounce entities who refuse proper ID.

    If the right incentives are in place—say, rewards for whistle-blowing that grant more memory or processing power, or access to physical resources, when some bad thing is stopped—then this kind of accountability rivalry just might keep pace, even as AI entities keep getting smarter and smarter. No bureaucratic agency could keep up at that point. But rivalry among them—tattling by equals—might.

    Above all, perhaps those super-genius programs will realize it is in their own best interest to maintain a competitively accountable system, like the one that made ours the most successful of all human civilizations. One that evades both chaos and the wretched trap of monolithic power by kings or priesthoods … or corporate oligarchs … or Skynet monsters. The only civilization that, after millennia of dismally stupid rule by moronically narrow-minded centralized regimes, finally dispersed creativity and freedom and accountability widely enough to become truly inventive.

    David Brin is an astrophysicist whose international best-selling novels include The Postman, Earth, Existence, and Hugo Award winners Startide Rising and The Uplift War. He consults for NASA, companies, agencies, and nonprofits about the onrushing future. Brin’s first nonfiction book, The Transparent Society, won the Freedom of Speech Award. His new one is Vivid Tomorrows: Science Fiction and Hollywood.

    #Intelligence_artificielle #Individuation #Science_fiction #Régulation

  • “Ce qui nous rend humains” : la science-fiction de Liu Cixin

    Bien évidemment, comme tout amateur de SF, j’ai adoré la trilogie de Liu Cixin... mais j’ai fini complètement déprimé par les futurs qu’elle nous propose. Voici que cet univers va paraître en BD.

    « La science-fiction véhicule fréquemment des idéaux humanistes et des aspirations partagées », écrit le romancier chinois Liu Cixin. Et comment ne pas le rejoindre ? C’est avec cette perspective que les éditions Delcourt ont lancé la collection Les Futurs de Liu Cixin. Aujourd’hui, Corinne Bertrand, qui la dirige, nous raconte le projet éditorial, autant que la plongée dans ces avenirs…

    #Science_fiction #Liu_Cixin

  • Fahrenheit 451 Full Text - Google Docs

    Fahrenheit 451 — Wikipédia

    Fahrenheit 451 est un roman d’anticipation dystopique1 de Ray Bradbury publié en 1953 aux États-Unis chez l’éditeur Ballantine Books. Il paraît en France en 1955 aux éditions Denoël dans la collection Présence du futur. Le livre a obtenu le prix Hugo du meilleur roman 1954.

    Le titre fait référence au point d’auto-inflammation, en degrés Fahrenheit, du papier. Cette température équivaut à 232,8 °C.
    Titre original Fahrenheit 451
    Réalisation François Truffaut
    Scénario François Truffaut
    Jean-Louis Richard
    adapté du roman éponyme de Ray Bradbury
    Musique Bernard Herrmann
    Acteurs principaux
    Oskar Werner
    Julie Christie
    Cyril Cusack

    Pays d’origine Drapeau du Royaume-Uni Royaume-Uni
    Genre Science-fiction
    Durée 112 minutes
    Sortie 1966

    #science_fiction #censure #in_english

  • Quand l’armée engage des auteurs de science-fiction pour imaginer les menaces du futur

    Le problème du "saut temporel, c’est qu’il fait fi des débats, pratiques, affrontement partiels qui accompagnent la création d’une situation donnée. Ce monde réel fait la différence avec la SF comme roman.
    Le scénario des « safe sphères » est une pale reproduction des articles anxiogènes sur les médias sociaux... sans tenir compte de l’effet des travaux universitaires contre les monopoles de la pensée numérique, tels qu’on les voit se déployer aujourd’hui après plusieurs années de dénonciation argumentée.
    Tirer des tendances fait de bons bouquins... mais pas forcément de la bonne futurologie dans un monde complexe. Et notre monde est complexe.

    Efficaces pour limiter les conflits entre communautés, puisque tout citoyen vit à l’abri de ce qui pourrait le heurter, ces « safe spheres » (littéralement, « sphères sûres ») ont fini par provoquer une fragmentation du corps social, encouragée par certaines puissances politiques. A commencer par la Grande Mongolie, issue d’une scission politique de la Chine et très portée sur la manipulation pour parvenir à dominer la planète. Tandis que la Grandislande se désagrège peu à peu, l’armée française décide d’exfiltrer ses ressortissants, ce qui n’est pas une mince affaire : 200 000 Français vivent dans ce pays très déréglementé, beaucoup d’entre eux soumis aux safe spheres et perméables à toutes sortes de « fake news », qui menacent de contaminer les militaires français eux-mêmes. Mais comment désactiver ces prisons cognitives, dans un Etat qui n’assure plus sa mission et où l’essentiel de la vie passe par ces bulles, y compris les données de santé ou administratives ?
    Article réservé à nos abonnés Lire aussi Se faire servir un cocktail par une pieuvre ou ouvrir un casino : le « métavers », univers virtuel de tous les possibles

    Réponse à partir du 8 juillet, sur le site Redteamdefense.org. Où l’on verra, bien sûr, que ce monde horrifique n’existe pas encore, même s’il est facile d’en distinguer quelques prémices dans le nôtre. Une fable, donc, mais pas sortie, comme on pourrait le croire, du cerveau d’un seul auteur de science-fiction (SF). Intitulé « Chronique d’une mort culturelle annoncée », ce scénario ne prétend d’ailleurs pas être une œuvre littéraire : il s’agit en fait d’une commande de l’armée française, mise en mots et en images par un groupe d’écrivains, scénaristes, illustrateurs et graphistes civils, dont certains bien connus dans leur domaine, comme Laurent Genefort, Xavier Mauméjean, DOA, le scénariste et coloriste Xavier Dorison ou le dessinateur et scénographe belge François Schuiten. La Red Team, c’est son nom, résulte d’une collaboration innovante entre le ministère des armées, l’université Paris sciences & lettres (PSL) et une grosse dizaine de créateurs – le chiffre exact n’est pas communiqué –, dont certains préfèrent garder l’anonymat.

    #Science_fiction #Red_Team #SF #Militarisme #Culture_numérique

  • Bouclier défensif, réalité communautaire... Les scénarios de la Red Team dévoilés

    En juillet 2019, le ministère des Armées avait lancé une mobilisation d’écrivains et autres créatifs, appelés sous les drapeaux pour rejoindre une « Red Team ». L’objectif : faire dans la prospective pour aider l’armée française à innover, en imaginant des situations hypothétiques, certes, mais crédibles. Les deux scénarios sont désormais en ligne.

    Pas si crédibles que ça. La politique est complètement évacuée. Les aspirations communes également. Les membres des sociétés sont décrits comme incapables d’agir indépendamment de la présence des armées qui représentent le seul point stable de l’univers. Ce qui marche dans les récits de SF, forcément archétypiques, ne peut se confronter à un réel complexe. Cela remet en question l’exercice lui-même.

    #Science_fiction #Red_Team #SF #Militarisme #Culture_numérique

  • Aux États-Unis, un timbre pour rendre hommage à Ursula K. Le Guin

    Ursula K. Le Guin, décédée le 22 janvier 2018, reste considérée comme l’une des plus importantes autrices de science-fiction américaines. Depuis les années 1960, ses nouvelles, romans et essais font le bonheur des amateurs, avec des thématiques et des points de vue atypiques. Le service postal américain, au troisième anniversaire de sa disparition, lui rend hommage avec un timbre spécial.


    • la fille feu follet de Ursula K. Le Guin éditions Goater

      La fille feu follet (titre original The wild girls) est le titre d’une longue nouvelle publiée pour la première fois en 2002 dans Asimov Science Fiction Magazine. Le texte a été révisé pour cette présente édition.
      Capturée par des hommes de la Couronne, deux fillettes devenues esclaves découvrent le monde et le système social de la Cité avec la Couronne, le Peuple-poussière et les Racines. Un récit légendaire dans la belle tradition des contes de Terremer.
      Ce texte est suivi de deux essais : l’un de 2008 dont c’est la première publication en livre, « Lire sans s’endormir ». Et l’autre complètement inédit sur la « modestie ».
      Le recueil comporte également quatre poèmes de cette grande autrice ainsi que la traditionnelle interview d’Ursula K. Le Guin menée par Terry Bisson.
      La fille feu follet (The Wild girls) a reçu le prix des lecteurs de Locus et celui des lecteurs d’Asimov’s science fiction magazine en 2003.
      Traduit de l’anglais (américain) par Nardjes Benkhadda
      Couverture de Pierre Bunk

    • De l’autre côté des mots

      Ursula K. Le Guin est une autrice majeure du monde de la science fiction et de la fantasy. Elle a laissé des chefs d’oeuvres comme La Main Gauche de la Nuit, Les Dépossédés ou Le Nom du monde est Forêt. Elle a aussi laissé son empreinte sur les littératures de l’imaginaire et au-delà en explorant des thématiques ethnologiques, féministes, politiques, anarchistes, psychologiques ou sociétaux.

      De l’autre côté des mots cherche à lui rendre hommage, dans une #monographie qui explore son oeuvre à travers des articles, des interviews et des essais, afin de découvrir qui elle était et de décrypter son influence qui perdure de nos jours.

      à paraître en septembre

    • Music and Poetry of the Kesh par Ursula K. Le Guin & Todd Barton

      Music and Poetry of the Kesh is the documentation of an invented Pacific Coast peoples from a far distant time, and the soundtrack of famed science fiction author, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home. In the novel, the story of Stone Telling, a young woman of the Kesh, is woven within a larger anthropological folklore and fantasy.

      The ways of the Kesh were originally presented in 1985 as a five hundred plus page book accompanied with illustrations of instruments and tools, maps, a glossary of terms, recipes, poems, an alphabet (Le Guin’s conlang, so she could write non-English lyrics), and with early editions, a cassette of “field recordings” and indigenous song. Le Guin wanted to hear the people she’d imagined; she embarked on an elaborate process with her friend Todd Barton to invoke their spirit and tradition.

  • Lire en ligne - Livres sur internet gratuits - Jules VERNE

    66 oeuvres disponibles

    Autour de la lune
    Bourses de voyage
    César Cascabel
    Cinq semaines en ballon
    Claudius Bombarnac
    Clovis Dardentor
    De la terre à la lune
    Deux ans de vacances
    Docteur Ox et autres nouvelles
    Face au drapeau
    Gil Braltar
    Hector Servadac
    Hier et demain
    Kéraban le têtu
    L’archipel en feu
    L’école des Robinsons
    L’épave du Cynthia
    L’étoile du sud
    L’étonnante aventure de la mission Barsac
    L’île à hélice
    L’île mystérieuse
    L’invasion de la mer
    La chasse au météore
    La jaganda
    La maison à vapeur
    Le chancellor
    Le château des Carpathes
    Le chemin de France
    Le comte de Chanteleine
    Le pays des fourrures
    Le phare du bout de monde
    Le pilote du Danube
    Le rayon vert
    Le secret de Wilhelm Storitz
    Le sphinx des glaces
    Le superbe Orénoque
    Le testament d’un excentrique
    Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours
    Le village aérien
    Les cinq cents millions de la bégum
    Les enfants du capitaine Grant
    Les forceurs du blocus
    Les frères Kip
    Les histoires de Jean-Marie Cabidoulin
    Les Indes noires
    Les naufragés du Jonathan
    Les révoltés de la Bounty
    Les tribulations d’un chinois en Chine
    Maître du monde
    Mathias Sandorf
    Michel Strogoff
    Mirifiques aventures de maître Antifer
    Mistress Branican
    Nord contre sud
    Robur le conquérant
    Sans dessus dessous
    Un billet de loterie
    Un capitaine de quinze ans
    Un drame au Mexique
    Une ville flottante
    Vingt mille lieues sous les mers
    Voyage au centre de la terre
    Voyages et aventures du capitaine Hatteras

    #littérature #science_fiction #domaine_public

  • L’armée française recrute des écrivains de science-fiction, pour prédire les scénarios du futur. Ça s’appelle la #RedTeam.

    « La RED TEAM vous attend pour sa présentation officielle au Digital Forum Innovation Défense le vendredi 4 décembre à 14h.
    Pour les inscriptions, cliquez ici
    Découvrir le concept »

    La vidéo de présentation : https://vimeo.com/482760785

    Un résumé par le Point : https://www.lepoint.fr/high-tech-internet/qui-sont-les-dix-auteurs-de-sf-de-la-red-team-du-ministere-des-armees-04-12-

    #armée #prospective #science_fiction

  • About David Weiner – IT CAME FROM…

    An entertainment industry mainstay, David Weiner is the creator of the Rondo Award-nominated, retro genre pop-culture site IT CAME FROM…

    He is the director/writer/producer of IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS, a critically acclaimed four-and-a-half-hour documentary about ’80s horror movies, its follow-up IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS: PART II, and IN SEARCH OF TOMORROW, a documentary about ’80s Sci-Fi movies, for CreatorVC.

  • ‘We’ve Already Survived an Apocalypse’: Indigenous Writers Are Changing Sci-Fi - The New York Times

    Dimaline, along with Waubgeshig Rice, Rebecca Roanhorse, Darcie Little Badger and Stephen Graham Jones, who has been called “the Jordan Peele of horror literature,” are some of the Indigenous novelists reshaping North American science fiction, horror and fantasy — genres in which Native writers have long been overlooked.

    Their fiction often draws on Native American and First Nations mythology and narrative traditions in ways that upend stereotypes about Indigenous literature and cultures. And the authors are gaining recognition in a corner of the literary world that has traditionally been white, male and Eurocentric, rooted in Western mythology.

    Some authors say that sci-fi and fantasy settings allow them to reimagine the Native experience in ways that wouldn’t be possible in realistic fiction. Writing futuristic narratives and building fantasy worlds provide a measure of freedom to tell stories that feel experimental and innovative, and aren’t weighted down by the legacies of genocide and colonialism.

    “We’ve already survived an apocalypse,” said Roanhorse, who is of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo descent.

    For Indigenous authors, writing themselves into sci-fi and fantasy narratives isn’t just about gaining visibility within popular genres. It is part of a broader effort to overcome centuries of cultural misrepresentation.

    “What most people know about Native people was created by outsiders, so it’s no surprise that it’s faulty,” said Debbie Reese, who is tribally enrolled at Nambé Pueblo and founded the site American Indians in Children’s Literature, which analyzes representations of Native people and beliefs in children’s books.

    While Indigenous writers are still underrepresented in the literary world, especially in genre fiction, their work is having an outsize impact. Roanhorse won two of the genre’s most prestigious awards, the Hugo and the Nebula, for her 2017 short story, “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™,” and the Locus Award for best first novel for “Trail of Lightning.” Both works have been optioned for screen adaptations.

    Dimaline’s novel, “The Marrow Thieves,” which unfolds in a dystopian future where Indigenous people are hunted for their bone marrow, won the Kirkus prize for young adult literature and is being adapted into a television series. She and Roanhorse have signed multi-book deals with major publishing houses in recent years.

    #Lecture #Science_fiction #Peuples_indigènes

  • La zone du cador. Révolution viriliste chez un « héros » de la gauche critique, Alain Damasio | Leïla Bergougnoux, Nina Faure et Yéléna Perret

    Alain Damasio est partout. Il est un invité régulier sur les ondes de France Culture [1] et dans les colonnes des Inrockuptibles [2], tandis que les journaux et revues de la gauche critique lui dressent des éloges panégyriques, de Reporterre à Ballast ou Lundi Matin, dont il est contributeur, en passant par le regretté Article XI. Quiconque s’intéresse aux idées libertaires, aux luttes anticapitalistes, aux ZAD et aux recherches d’alternatives croisera tôt ou tard sa prose enflammée et ses tirades tonitruantes, au détour d’un article ou d’un remix électro. Source : Les mots sont importants

  • We’re not going back to normal - MIT Technology Review

    Social distancing is here to stay for much more than a few weeks. It will upend our way of life, in some ways forever.

    Vous cherchez une bonne dystopie pour la situation : lisez l’éditorial de la MIT Tech. Review. Extraits (mais bien sûr, on peut contester ce qu’il juge inéluctable, et recréer un monde plus solidaire à partir de ce nouveau constat... j’ai toujours pensé que les « collapsionnistes » sont au fond les meilleurs alliés du système en place, car ils estiment qu’on ne peut pas le changer. Il ne faudrait pas que le COVID-19 leur donne encore plus de place mentale) :

    It’s now widely agreed (even by Britain, finally) that every country needs to “flatten the curve”: impose social distancing to slow the spread of the virus so that the number of people sick at once doesn’t cause the health-care system to collapse, as it is threatening to do in Italy right now. That means the pandemic needs to last, at a low level, until either enough people have had Covid-19 to leave most immune (assuming immunity lasts for years, which we don’t know) or there’s a vaccine.

    How long would that take, and how draconian do social restrictions need to be? Yesterday President Donald Trump, announcing new guidelines such as a 10-person limit on gatherings, said that “with several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly.” In China, six weeks of lockdown are beginning to ease now that new cases have fallen to a trickle.

    But it won’t end there. As long as someone in the world has the virus, breakouts can and will keep recurring without stringent controls to contain them. In a report yesterday (pdf), researchers at Imperial College London proposed a way of doing this: impose more extreme social distancing measures every time admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) start to spike, and relax them each time admissions fall. Here’s how that looks in a graph.

    Under this model, the researchers conclude, social distancing and school closures would need to be in force some two-thirds of the time—roughly two months on and one month off—until a vaccine is available, which will take at least 18 months (if it works at all). They note that the results are “qualitatively similar for the US.”

    Eighteen months!? Surely there must be other solutions. Why not just build more ICUs and treat more people at once, for example?

    Well, in the researchers’ model, that didn’t solve the problem. Without social distancing of the whole population, they found, even the best mitigation strategy—which means isolation or quarantine of the sick, the old, and those who have been exposed, plus school closures—would still lead to a surge of critically ill people eight times bigger than the US or UK system can cope with.

    There’ll be some adaptation, of course: gyms could start selling home equipment and online training sessions, for example. We’ll see an explosion of new services in what’s already been dubbed the “shut-in economy.” One can also wax hopeful about the way some habits might change—less carbon-burning travel, more local supply chains, more walking and biking.

    But the disruption to many, many businesses and livelihoods will be impossible to manage. And the shut-in lifestyle just isn’t sustainable for such long periods.

    So how can we live in this new world? Part of the answer—hopefully—will be better health-care systems, with pandemic response units that can move quickly to identify and contain outbreaks before they start to spread, and the ability to quickly ramp up production of medical equipment, testing kits, and drugs. Those will be too late to stop Covid-19, but they’ll help with future pandemics.

    Qiuand la surveillance totale devient la seule solution vue par le déterminisme technique.

    Ultimately, however, I predict that we’ll restore the ability to socialize safely by developing more sophisticated ways to identify who is a disease risk and who isn’t, and discriminating—legally—against those who are.

    We can see harbingers of this in the measures some countries are taking today. Israel is going to use the cell-phone location data with which its intelligence services track terrorists to trace people who’ve been in touch with known carriers of the virus. Singapore does exhaustive contact tracing and publishes detailed data on each known case, all but identifying people by name.

    The airline wouldn’t be able to see where you’d gone, but it would get an alert if you’d been close to known infected people or disease hot spots. There’d be similar requirements at the entrance to large venues, government buildings, or public transport hubs. There would be temperature scanners everywhere, and your workplace might demand you wear a monitor that tracks your temperature or other vital signs. Where nightclubs ask for proof of age, in future they might ask for proof of immunity—an identity card or some kind of digital verification via your phone, showing you’ve already recovered from or been vaccinated against the latest virus strains.

    Une « carte de bonne santé »...quelle imagination débordante (on dirait de la SF des anées 1930)

    As usual, however, the true cost will be borne by the poorest and weakest. People with less access to health care, or who live in more disease-prone areas, will now also be more frequently shut out of places and opportunities open to everyone else. Gig workers—from drivers to plumbers to freelance yoga instructors—will see their jobs become even more precarious. Immigrants, refugees, the undocumented, and ex-convicts will face yet another obstacle to gaining a foothold in society.

    Moreover, unless there are strict rules on how someone’s risk for disease is assessed, governments or companies could choose any criteria—you’re high-risk if you earn less than $50,000 a year, are in a family of more than six people, and live in certain parts of the country, for example. That creates scope for algorithmic bias and hidden discrimination, as happened last year with an algorithm used by US health insurers that turned out to inadvertently favor white people.

    Il va falloir inventer vite autre chose, sinon, nous allons vraiment vivre dans « Le meilleur des mondes » ou « Tous à Zanzibar ».

    #Coronavirus #Science_Fiction #surveillance

  • Q&A with Sofia Alaoui, dir. Qu’importe si les bêtes meurent [So What if the Goats Die] - Clermont 2020

    In the heights of the Atlas mountains, Abdellah, a young shepherd, and his father are snowed in. As their animals start to starve, Abdellah goes in search of supplies in a village more than a day’s walk away. With his mule, he arrives in the village and discovers that it has been deserted because of a curious event that has left all the believers baffled. The product of a truly incredible mix of genres, this short is a mesmerising oddity shot amongst the stunning, other-worldly landscape of (...) #Festivals

    / #arab, #French_film, #Film_Africa, #Science_fiction

  • Q&A with Noël Fuzellier, dir. Mars Colony - ClermontFF 2020

    Logan is a sci-fi obsessed awkward teenager who often finds himself the butt of his friends’ jokes. One day, he’s visited by an older man who claims to be him, 39 years from now and asks him to join him on a mission to save humankind. A sci-fi enthusiast himself, Noël Fuzellier’s passion for space travel and Mars in particular shines through this optimistic, unpretentious yet ambitious #Short. He deftly mixes low-key family dynamics typical of French cinema with zany space travel sequences. (...) #Festivals

    / Short, #Science_fiction


  • Retour sur la nucléarisation et la militarisation des Utopiales 2019 | La Volte

    Nous nous étions alarmé.e.s à la fin du mois d’octobre au sein des éditions La Volte en découvrant la grille de programmation du festival.

    Motifs : la présence du Ministère des Armées en la personne d’Emmanuel Chiva, Directeur de l’agence d’innovation de défense (invité par le festival), et l’accueil d’un concours d’écriture co-organisé par l’ANDRA et le magazine Usbek et Rica.

    Le Ministère des armées est invité depuis 2017 au festival. C’est aux Utopiales qu’est née et qu’a été testée l’idée de la future “red team”. Calquée sur le modèle US et censée réunir des auteur.e.s de SF pour “préparer les technologies et innovations qui seront nécessaires à nos futurs systèmes d’armement“, la création de cette fameuse équipe a été annoncée cet été à grand bruit dans la presse.

    Les Utopiales comme terrain d’expérimentation et source d’inspiration pour l’armée : c’est un point dont le principal intéressé, Emmanuel Chiva, ne s’est jamais caché, n’hésitant pas à en faire étalage dans divers médias ainsi qu’auprès du Sénat.

    Si le Ministère des armées est invité à recruter sa red team d’auteur.e.s en plein festival, pourquoi ne pas convier également Amnesty International ?

    Si l’on invite l’ANDRA à faire campagne auprès du public des Utopiales, pourquoi ne pas solliciter dans le même temps GreenPeace ou le réseau Sortir du Nucléaire ?

    Mais ce que nous soulignons par-dessus tout, c’est cette tentative de détournement massive de la littérature de science-fiction qui a éclaté au grand jour avec l’article paru sur le site de France Culture le 31 octobre, premier jour des Utopiales.

    Pour reprendre les propos d’Alain Damasio, qui était invité à intervenir à la table ronde “Secret Défense” le vendredi 1er novembre : est-ce là le rôle d’auteur.e.s de science-fiction que de se faire les promoteurs d’un “genre utile”, au service d’un état de guerre permanent, tel que l’a décrit Emmanuel Chiva sur scène ?

    À utiliser la science-fiction dans un but militaire, cet imaginaire de la guerre risque fatalement d’impacter notre vision du monde. La guerre est-elle un horizon souhaitable et désirable ?

    Bon, l’ANDRA ou les Armées ne sont pas « invitées », mais sponsors. Les festivals ne peuvent plus, malgré le succès comme celui des Utopiales, boucler leurs budgets sans l’apport de « partenaires » intéressés (au double sens du terme). C’est aussi ce recul de l’allocation sociale par le biais de l’impôt et des collectivités territoriales qui est en jeu. Quand les 1% captent tout l’argent, ils ont donc plus d’argent à dépenser pour servir leurs propres intérêts, y compris au travers d’activités culturelles ou sociales. L’imaginaire est donc réduit à ne voir l’avenir qu’au prisme des intérêts de ces 1%... très peu imaginatif donc. C’est comme les chercheurs (aussi présents aux Utopiales) qui ne peuvent plus voir l’avenir de leurs travaux qu’au filtre des « appel d’offre » immédiats et formatés en fonction des besoins des subventionneurs. L’imagination scientifique en prend un coup elle aussi.
    Je soutiens pleinement ce texte.

    #Utopiales #Science_fiction #Armée #ANDRA #Sponsoring #Imaginaire

  • Cory Doctorow: Fake News Is an Oracle – Locus Online

    In the same way, science fiction responds to our societal ideomotor responses. First, the authors write the stories about the futures they fear and rel­ish. These futures are not drawn from a wide-open field; rather, they make use of the writer’s (and audience’s) existing vocabulary of futuristic ideas: robots, internets and AIs, spaceships and surveil­lance devices. Writers can only get away with so much exposition in their fiction (though I’ve been known to push the limits) and so the imaginative leaps of a work of fiction are constrained by the base knowledge the writer feels safe in assuming their readers share.

    So the writers write the stories. Then the editors choose some of those stories to publish (or the writers publish them themselves). Then readers choose some of those stories to elevate to the discourse, making them popular and integrating them into our vocabulary about possible futures, good and bad. The process of elevation is complicated and has a lot of randomness in it (lucky breaks, skilled agents, PR wins, a prominent reviewer’s favor), but the single incontrovertible fact about a SF work’s popularity is that it has captured the public’s imagination. The warning in the tale is a warning that resonates with our current anxieties; the tale’s inspiration thrums with our own aspirations for the future.

    Reading a writer’s fiction tells you a lot about that writer’s fears and aspira­tions. Looking at the awards ballots and bestseller lists tells you even more about our societal fears and aspirations for the future. The system of writers and readers and editors and critics and booksellers and reviewers act as a kind of oracle, a societal planchette that our hands rest lightly upon, whose movements reveal secrets we didn’t even know we were keeping.

    Which brings me to “fake news.”

    “Fake news” is a nearly useless term, encompassing hoaxes, conspiracy theories, unfalsifiable statements, true facts spoken by people who are seek­ing to deceive audiences about the identity of the speaker, and as a catch-all meaning, “I read a thing on the internet that I disagree with.”

    But for all that, “fake news” is useful in one regard: the spread of a given hoax, or unfalsifiable statement, or truth delivered under color of falsehood, or conspiracy, or objectionable idea undeniably tells you that the idea has caught the public imagination. The fake news that doesn’t catch on may have simply been mishandled, but the fake news that does catch on has some plausibility that tells you an awful lot about the world we live in and how our fellow humans perceive that world.

    The anti-vaxers have a point. Not about the safety of vaccines. I believe they are 100% wrong about vaccines and that everyone who can should get a full schedule of vaccines for themselves and their children.

    But anti-vaxers have a point about the process.

    About 20 years ago, Purdue Pharma introduced a new blockbuster pain­killer to replace its existing flagship product, MS Contin, whose patent had expired. The new drug, Oxycontin, was said to be safe and long-lasting, with effects that would last an incredible 12 hours, without provoking the fast adaptation response characteristic of other opioids, which drives users to take higher and higher doses. What’s more, the company claimed that the addictive potential of opioids was vastly overstated, citing a one-paragraph letter to the New England Journal of Medicine penned by Boston University Medical Center’s Dr. Hershel Jick, who claimed that an internal, un-reviewed study showed that opioids could be safely given at higher doses, for longer times, than had been previously thought.

    Purdue Pharma weaponized the “Jick Letter,” making it one of the most-cited references in medical research history, the five most consequential sentences in the history of NEJM. Through a cluster of deceptive tactics – only coming to light now through a string of state lawsuits – Purdue cre­ated the opioid epidemic, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans and counting, more than died in the Vietnam War. Purdue made $31 billion. The Sackler family, owners of Purdue, are now richer than the Rockefellers.

    The regulators had every reason to know something terrible was going on, from the small town pharmacies ordering millions of pills to the dead piling up on the streets of American cities and towns. The only way they could miss the opioid crisis and its roots in junk science was if they were actively seeking not to learn about it – and no surprise, given how many top regulators come from industry, and have worked at an opioid giant (and more: they are often married to pharma execs, they’re godparents to other pharma execs’ kids, they’re executors of pharma execs’ estates – all the normal, tight social bonds from the top players in concentrated industries).

    Ten years ago, if you came home from the doctor’s with a prescription for oxy, and advice that they were not to be feared for their addictive potential, and an admonition that pain was “the fourth vital sign,” and its under-treatment was a great societal cruelty, you might have met someone who said that this was all bullshit, that you were being set up to be murdered by a family of ruthless billionaires whose watchdog had switched sides.

    You might have called that person an “opioid denier.”

    #Fake_news #Cory_Doctorow #Science_fiction #Vaccins #Opioides

  • Liu Cixin’s War of the Worlds | The New Yorker

    As the standoff has intensified, Liu has become wary of touting the geopolitical underpinnings of his work. In November, when I accompanied him on a trip to Washington, D.C.—he was picking up the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation’s Award for Imagination in Service to Society—he briskly dismissed the idea that fiction could serve as commentary on history or on current affairs. “The whole point is to escape the real world!” he said. Still, the kind of reader he attracts suggests otherwise: Chinese tech entrepreneurs discuss the Hobbesian vision of the trilogy as a metaphor for cutthroat competition in the corporate world; other fans include Barack Obama, who met Liu in Beijing two years ago, and Mark Zuckerberg. Liu’s international career has become a source of national pride. In 2015, China’s then Vice-President, Li Yuanchao, invited Liu to Zhongnanhai—an off-limits complex of government accommodation sometimes compared to the Kremlin—to discuss the books and showed Liu his own copies, which were dense with highlights and annotations.

    Liu’s tomes—they tend to be tomes—have been translated into more than twenty languages, and the trilogy has sold some eight million copies worldwide. He has won China’s highest honor for science-fiction writing, the Galaxy Award, nine times, and in 2015 he became the first Asian writer to win the Hugo Award, the most prestigious international science-fiction prize. In China, one of his stories has been a set text in the gao kao—the notoriously competitive college-entrance exams that determine the fate of ten million pupils annually; another has appeared in the national seventh-grade-curriculum textbook. When a reporter recently challenged Liu to answer the middle-school questions about the “meaning” and the “central themes” of his story, he didn’t get a single one right. “I’m a writer,” he told me, with a shrug. “I don’t begin with some conceit in mind. I’m just trying to tell a good story.”

    The trilogy’s success has been credited with establishing sci-fi, once marginalized in China, as a mainstream taste. Liu believes that this trend signals a deeper shift in the Chinese mind-set—that technological advances have spurred a new excitement about the possibilities of cosmic exploration. The trilogy commands a huge following among aerospace engineers and cosmologists; one scientist wrote an explanatory guide, “The Physics of Three Body.” Some years ago, China’s aerospace agency asked Liu, whose first career was as a computer engineer in the hydropower industry, to address technicians and engineers about ways that “sci-fi thinking” could be harnessed to produce more imaginative approaches to scientific problems. More recently, he was invited to inspect a colossal new radio dish, one of whose purposes is to detect extraterrestrial communications. Its engineers had been sending Liu updates on the project and effusive expressions of admiration.
    “We’re looking for someone who can be very naughty when left alone, and your name kept popping up in our database.”

    Earlier this year, soon after a Chinese lunar rover achieved the unprecedented feat of landing on the dark side of the moon, an adaptation of Liu’s short story “The Wandering Earth” earned nearly half a billion dollars in its first ten days of release, eventually becoming China’s second-highest-grossing film ever. A headline in the People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party newspaper, jubilantly summed up the mood: “Only the Chinese Can Save the Planet!”

    Liu was born in 1963 in Beijing, where his father was a manager at the Coal Mine Design Institute and his mother was an elementary-school teacher. His father’s family came from the plains of Henan Province, in the Yellow River Basin, a region that suffered particularly dire calamities in the twentieth century. After the Japanese invaded China, in 1937—interrupting a civil war between Nationalists and Communists that had been raging for a decade—Henan became a vital strategic point in the Nationalist government’s attempt to prevent them from sweeping south. Chinese forces breached dikes on the Yellow River to halt the Japanese advance, but the resulting flood destroyed thousands of villages and killed hundreds of thousands of people. It also ruined vast areas of farmland; the next harvest was a fraction of the expected yield. In 1942-43, after the government failed to respond to the shortage, some two million people starved to death.

    When the civil war resumed, after the Second World War, both sides conscripted men. Liu’s paternal grandparents had two sons and no ideological allegiance to either side, and, in the hope of preserving the family line, they took a chilling but pragmatic gamble. One son joined the Nationalists and the other, Liu’s father, joined the Communists. He rose to the rank of company commander in the Eighth Route Army, and, after the Communist victory, he began his career in Beijing. To this day, Liu doesn’t know what became of his uncle.

    Je comprends mieux, Lui a lu un de mes livres d’enfance préféré.

    Meanwhile, his father had turned him on to speculative fiction, giving him a copy of Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” To the young Liu, reading Verne’s book was like walking through a door to another world. “Everything in it was described with such authority and scrupulous attention to detail that I thought it had to be real,” Liu told me.

    The great flourishing of science fiction in the West at the end of the nineteenth century occurred alongside unprecedented technological progress and the proliferation of the popular press—transformations that were fundamental to the development of the genre. As the British Empire expanded and the United States began to assert its power around the world, British and American writers invented tales of space travel as seen through a lens of imperial appropriation, in which technological superiority brought about territorial conquest. Extraterrestrials were often a proxy for human beings of different creeds or races.

    Types are central to the way Liu thinks of people; he has a knack for quickly sketching the various classes that make up Chinese society. A scientist is described as “nothing more than a typical intellectual of the period: cautious, timid, seeking only to protect himself.” Another character, “a typical political cadre of the time,” had “an extremely keen sense for politics and saw everything through an ideological lens.” This characteristic endows his fiction with a sociopolitical specificity that has the texture of reality. At the same time, it doesn’t allow for much emotional complexity, and Liu has been criticized for peopling his books with characters who seem like cardboard cutouts installed in magnificent dioramas. Liu readily admits to the charge. “I did not begin writing for love of literature,” he told me. “I did so for love of science.”

    August Cole, a co-author of “Ghost Fleet,” a techno-thriller about a war between the U.S. and China, told me that, for him, Liu’s work was crucial to understanding contemporary China, “because it synthesizes multiple angles of looking at the country, from the anthropological to the political to the social.” Although physics furnishes the novels’ premises, it is politics that drives the plots. At every turn, the characters are forced to make brutal calculations in which moral absolutism is pitted against the greater good. In their pursuit of survival, men and women employ Machiavellian game theory and adopt a bleak consequentialism. In Liu’s fictional universe, idealism is fatal and kindness an exorbitant luxury. As one general says in the trilogy, “In a time of war, we can’t afford to be too scrupulous.” Indeed, it is usually when people do not play by the rules of Realpolitik that the most lives are lost.

    #Science_fiction #Liu_Cixin