Ember Randall

Fantasy and Science Fiction


Imagine a world where every movement is tracked, every internet search logged – even your coffee maker keeps track of how many cups of espresso you make every morning. Is that science fiction, or reality?

The answer is a bit of both. Big Brother is Watching: Surveillance Technology and Privacy explores the current state of privacy in tech and how it can apply to fictional worlds.

“Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a princess,” or a king, or a woodcutter, or a miller. Such a beginning is familiar to us all, as are the stories that generally follow. Over the course of the tale, the hero will overcome hardships, deceit, and treachery; rescue the princess; and live happily ever after.

Or, at least, that’s what we expect today. But the original fairy tales in the West were rather different. Explore how fairy tales have grown and evolved in Tropes of the Western Fairy Tale, published in the 47th edition of New Myths.

Machine learning (ML) is the current special sauce of the tech world. Adobe uses it to organize your photos; Yelp uses it to give you recommendations for great restaurants; Amazon, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google run virtually everything with machine learning. Other companies, from two-person startups to tech giants, use it for everything from recognizing spam calls to detecting credit card fraud. It’s even in some of our airports, which are now using facial recognition in place of IDs.

Yet most people, even most computer scientists, don’t understand ML, and the misconceptions in popular fiction don’t help. Machine Learning For Writers aims to clear up some of those misconceptions — particularly for writers who want to write ML well, but also for those who simply want to understand the hot tech everyone is talking about.

Science fiction novels and movies are full of machines that develop consciousness and try to take over the world. Almost always, such machines are more intelligent than humans, more powerful, and easily able to accomplish their goals. Yet current attempts to create artificial intelligences (AIs) lack most of the capabilities that the AIs of science fiction have. What will it take to create a truly conscious AI? Check out Conscious Machines, in Visions Magazine Issue 2, to learn more.