One of the biggest breakthroughs in computer science has been the ability to simulate human neural networks via programs and algorithms, thereby combining the power of artificial intelligence with the computing power of the human brain. This advancement will aid in creating artificial “superintelligence,” as well as figuring out how the human brain works in an attempt to simulate it — and perhaps consciousness itself — in a machine (which scientists recently did with a worm). One specific aspect of mimicking human neural networks that has been particularly challenging is vision and object recognition, which has recently yielded some impressive and promising results, and now has taken another leap forward. Neuroscientists at MIT recently conducted a study that indicates that recent advancements in “deep neural networks” allow computer networks to see and recognize objects just as well as primates.
If you read the latest installment of Titan Comics’ Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor, issue #6, and get seriously annoyed with the narrative storytelling gimmick it employs, you are not the only one. See, the story is told backwards, beginning with the end and moving through time in reverse. It gets really, really irritating.
You start out with the Doctor and his former librarian companion, Alice, sitting on the TARDIS, and she says, “I can’t believe he’s dead.” Who is not the mystery, as the next line reveals it’s Jones, the future rock star from the past who has been tagging along for the ride for the last few issues. She questions, given the power and technology that they have at their disposal, why they can’t go back and fix things, and the Doctor explains that life must move forward, no matter how painful. As he says that, however, the Doctor jumps back through time, and the story gradually starts to come into focus. There’s a creature named Nimon with a grudge against a planet, and he has a device, a bomb, that can create a black hole, but he needs the TARDIS to set it off and smite his enemies, which leads to much unpleasantness.
The Purge, as a movie, didn’t do much for me. It had an intriguing concept and a cool hook, but didn’t do much with it outside of deliver a standard home invasion yarn. Which is why I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the follow-up, The Purge: Anarchy—came perilously close to making my top ten list for 2014. Hitting theaters almost exactly a year after the first film, many of us expected a hasty, thrown together sequel intended to capitalize on the popularity of the first. While it is definitely that in many ways, it’s better than it has any right to be, and eschews the horror trappings of the first film to deliver a modern day equivalent of a grim, gritty 1970s revenge/exploitation flick that you’d see at a grindhouse. Part three was announced a few months ago, and now it looks like two key players from Anarchy are coming back for another night of chaos, murder, and mayhem.
Michael Kenneth Williams, best known for playing Omar Little on HBO’s The Wire, has a small, but intriguing, part in Anarchy, and he recently revealed that he expects both he and Frank Grillo to be back for The Purge 3. Talking to Collider, he said:
If you’ve ever watched AMC’s mega-hit The Walking Dead, then you know that no one is safe. That’s kind of their jam, that anyone can die at any time. Robert Kirkman’s comics are the same way, but even though the series follows the same rough pattern as the source material, that doesn’t mean characters that are still alive in on the pages can’t die off on screen. They’re not afraid to kill of kids, the elderly, people you love, people you hate; you name it, they’ll kill it. Kirkman even recently hinted that one fan favorite could be next on the chopping block.
There are SPOILERS beyond this point if you’re not 100% caught up on The Walking Dead.
Summer Glau may not be a household name, but within a certain segment of the population, she’s a goddamned superstar. You love her, and you’ll always love her because she was in Firefly, not to mention the underappreciated Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. She may have been a robot in that second show, but now in the webseries Jeff 1000 she’s become best buds with a 10-foot-tall, not-quite-killer mechanoid.
For an actor, having a signature, career-defining role, can be a double-edged sword. Sure, it means that you’re permanently part of the pop culture landscape, and no matter what happens afterwards, you will always be remembered. That can also be part of the problem. No matter what, you’ll always be remembered for that one part. If it’s good, you spend the rest of your career trying to out do what you accomplished earlier, and if it’s bad, that failure will dog you. Such is the case with Natalie Portman, who claims her role in the Star Wars prequels almost ruined her career.
Prior to landing the Amidala role in George Lucas’ much-derided trilogy, Portman only had a few, largely supporting roles on her resume. She did, however, show a great deal of promise and skill beyond her young years in Luc Besson’s modern action classic Leon: The Professional. She was on the way up, but her turns in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones took her for a bit of a detour. These were big roles in movies that everyone saw, and she wasn’t particularly good. Granted, there are a great many terrible things in those movies, so it isn’t entirely on her, but her career took a hit.