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Crafty Dog
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« on: May 10, 2003, 08:33:18 PM »

Bullet Time Again: The Wachowskis Reload
By DAVID EDELSTEIN

 



Keanu Reeves as Neo in "The Matrix Reloaded." The sequel to the science-fiction thriller "The Matrix" promises to take that film's technological bravura even farther.

MAYBE it was the moment when Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) leapt in the air and froze, legs akimbo, fingers like talons, a bird of prey in black vinyl, while the camera arced around her in normal time: that was when movies as we knew them changed.

Or it might have been when Trinity and Neo (Keanu Reeves) ? the computer nerd turned messianic superhero ? strode into the government lobby, looking lean, hard and preternaturally cool in sunglasses and long black coats concealing an arsenal of weaponry: diving, tumbling and sprinting horizontally along the walls to escape a torrent of bullets, the duo remained gorgeously intact while the pillars around them exploded into dust.

Or, most likely, it was the scene that the filmmakers called "Bullet Time": the camera revolved around Neo as he twisted backward ? almost parallel to the ground ? to dodge a gunshot, his long coat fluttering beneath him, the bullets soaring by in slow motion like beads of mercury, leaving shimmering traces in the air.

By the time we hit Bullet Time, we had learned that the Matrix ? the universe in which Neo lived before he took the red pill offered by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and "woke up" ? was a collective delusion, a computer simulation engineered by machines to keep the human race dormant while they harvested its energy. But we also learned that anything was possible in the Matrix if you could "free your mind."

More to the point, we learned that anything was possible in the movie "The Matrix": thanks to free minds in concert with technological bravura, space, time and motion had become love slaves of the filmmakers' visual fancies.

The sequel, "The Matrix Reloaded," opens on Thursday. Written and directed again by Larry and Andy Wachowski, it shows that even more is possible ? including an entirely computer-generated sequence assembled here on a vast former naval base near Oakland, in which Neo fights 100 incarnations of his nemesis, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), who has managed to replicate himself like a virus within the Matrix.

But before the Wachowski brothers try to raise the bar again, it's worth remembering how, in 1999, "The Matrix" changed not only the way we look at movies, but movies themselves. "The Matrix" cut us loose from the laws of physics in ways that no live-action film had ever done, exploding our ideas of time and space on screen.

The foundation for this great leap forward was the "Bullet Time" work of John Gaeta and his visual effects team, which expanded on a technique made famous by a Gap ad called "Khakis Swing" and involved more than 100 meticulously coordinated still cameras in a circle around the action. But that technology wouldn't have such a kick without the Wachowskis' stylisic (and philosophical) underpinnings.

The number of inspirations for "The Matrix" can make your head swim. Among other elements, the Wachowskis were inspired by video games, Hong Kong sword-fighting ghost epics, Japanese anime, William Gibson cyberpunk, Philip K. Dick dystopian science fiction, druggy "Alice in Wonderland" surrealism, the bio-mechanical designs of the artists H. R. Giger and Geoff Barlow, David Cronenberg's visions of cybernetically enhanced flesh and "Terminator"-like battles of man versus runaway machine (with a nod to the writer Harlan Ellison and the father of robotics, Hans Moravec).

Then there is the ancient philosophy of Gnosticism, which in this case overlaps with Jean Baudrillard's postmodern book "Simulacra and Simulation" (which makes a cameo in "The Matrix"), messianic Christianity and even Zen Buddhism. You could go on and on ? and there's a lucid new collection of essays on the subject, "Exploring the Matrix: Visions of the Cyber Present," that does just that.

What's most distinctive about the Wachowskis' vision is not how many ingredients they "jambalaya-ed" (the word is Mr. Gaeta's), but how much of a piece the movie feels.

The central theme of "The Matrix" is as old as storytelling. A man learns that his life is a dream; to realize his full potential (or self-actualize), he must break through to the "real" reality. "You are born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch," says Morpheus. "A prison for your mind." For the Gnostics, this prison was a consequence of mankind's imperfect creation; for Baudrillard, the upshot of our materialism and dependence on technology; for paranoid science fiction writers like Dick, a plot by nefarious government entities with access to advanced technology to control our destinies. For the Wachowskis, it might be all three.

Tales in which the world turned out to be a computer simulation have been told on screen before, as recently as "Dark City" (1998) and "The Thirteenth Floor" (1999) ? neither a hit. A science-fiction screenwriter I know said he'd been stewing over his own simulated-universe project for years when "The Matrix" came out. "What I didn't think of," he said sadly, "was the martial-arts angle."

And that's the crux of it. The Wachowskis were aficionados of Hong Kong action movies like Tsui Hark's "Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain" (1983) and "Once Upon a Time in China" (1991) ? films in which the actors (many of them rigorously trained at places like the Beijing Opera) engaged in hand-to-hand combat while soaring and somersaulting through the air. A friend once asked me, "How are the characters able to fly around like that?" and I rolled my eyes and said, "It's a convention." What I should have said is that it's a convention rooted in a philosophy essential to many Eastern martial arts: that the material world is secondary, and that the properly directed mind can triumph over matter.

In a funny way, the Wachowskis ? who hired Hong Kong's greatest action choreographer, Woo-Ping Yuen ? have provided a retroactive explanation for why warriors in Hong Kong movies can fly: they're in a kind of simulation, a Matrix.

It is no accident that, in "The Matrix," Morpheus's way of helping Neo to understand his own powers is to upload a martial-arts program into his brain and take him into a virtual dojo, a Zen monastery. But what happens in the dojo isn't computer-generated: the actors trained for three months to master the kung-fu, the midair triple-kicks and the intricate wire work, and the sequence is edited (by Zach Staenberg) to emphasize the actors' fluid movements. It's that combination of the credible and the incredible that puts "The Matrix" in a different class from its imitators.

The films that have followed in its wake don't have the same aesthetic foundation or feel for the way bodies move in space. They're simply collections of eye-popping stunts: martial arts plus special effects plus Cuisinart editing. "Charlie's Angels" (2001) promptly ripped off Trinity's suspended kick, but as fetching as Cameron Diaz might look in midair with her long legs extended, there's no reason (literal or poetic) for her ability to stop time. This year's "Daredevil" revolves around a blind lawyer (Ben Affleck) whose cane transforms into a weapon, but the fight scenes appear to take place in some abstract cyberspace in which physical laws have no sway. It's as if his blindness and suffering (he has self-inflicted stigmata) have given him an E-ZPass to the Matrix.

IN Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" (2002), Peter Parker enters a kind of Matrix when he discovers that he has superhuman powers. But at that point he turns into a computer-generated little guy who swings around digital skyscrapers in impossibly long takes ? and the charming movie about a goofy young man with a crush on the girl next door and the amazing ability to shoot sticky stuff hundreds of yards becomes a weightless cartoon.

In "The Matrix," the special effects are seamlessly integrated into the cinematography by Bill Pope, the production design by Owen Paterson and the costumes by Kym Barrett. The Matrix itself has a pale green hue, a myriad of reflective surfaces and ? matrices. "All around us are matrices and patterns," Mr. Pope said by telephone from Los Angeles. "The modern world is based upon mathematics ? your car, your watch, the grid of a building, the grid of a street, the grid of a city. We live inside matrices all over the world ? and in `The Matrix' we tried to suggest the ways in which the characters were trapped in them."

Of the many movies influenced by "The Matrix," only Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report" (2002) ? itself based on a short story by Philip K. Dick ? has a comparable visual integrity. The palette is cool, blue-washed, with a grainy texture suggesting the unstable molecules of reality. Digital video is the instrument of the state: it's a world in which the government keeps tabs on you with retinal scans and marketers tailor billboards to your previous purchases. Like "The Matrix," it features images of hairless bodies wired up in chemical baths ? humans dreaming under the direction of an authoritarian power.

The people behind "The Matrix" acknowledge its influence on cinema, car commercials, video games and even fashion, but they're too busy looking ahead to "The Matrix Reloaded" (and later this year, in November, the final part of the trilogy, "The Matrix Revolutions") to complain about the homages (a k a ripoffs). The Wachowskis themselves rarely speak to reporters ("They've never talked to the press," Mr. Pope said. "You guys only thought they were talking to you. They were dodging you right and left. They can manage to talk without saying anything"), which leaves their visual effects supervisor John Gaeta to answer the deeper questions about the legacy of "The Matrix."

Interviewed in his office here in Alameda, where the naval base is now studded with faceless barracks and warehouses, many of which contain the future of the special effects industry ? Mr. Gaeta averred that the sequels would be more difficult to imitate. "I think that the next two films will absolutely plaster and pummel everything in all directions," he said. "There will be a very low likelihood that we will see a quick repetition of the material."

Chief among the promised marvels is the "Burly Brawl," which Wired magazine has called "Bullet Time Squared." The set was entirely recreated inside the computer, along with dimensional replicas of the heads of Mr. Reeves and Mr. Weaving. What makes the sequence groundbreaking is that after creating it in three dimensions, the directors can select any of an infinite number of camera angles just by plugging in the right equation ? all without having to reanimate a single frame.

"I can now do 50 simultaneous events in a fluid, unending shot, whereas each of those events used to take us all day long to get a two-second piece with 40 takes to perfect," Mr. Gaeta said. "And I can have all this action make sense and interrelate, and I can follow it with a God's-eye camera moving at speeds that would tear an ordinary camera apart. The system will escalate martial arts into a now-transcendental super zone. I think there are going to be people in Hong Kong and Asia who will look at this film and just be, like, flipping."

"I guarantee you your brain will work harder than any action movie you've ever seen in your entire life."

All this digital wizardry is both thrilling and, for those of us who loved the realness of "The Matrix," a little worrisome. But Mr. Gaeta assured me that "The Matrix Reloaded" will feel just as real. It's possible, he suggested, that the next time anyone writes about the influence of "The Matrix," it won't be on movies but on government and the military ? a grim irony for a film about the empowerment of the individual in a world of technology run amok.

"The subtleties of reality manipulation in your life are all around, and they're becoming denser and more sophisticated and more intimidating every day," Mr. Gaeta said. "I've often said that the visual effects technicians of today will be the social engineers of the future."
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lynda
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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2003, 03:45:06 PM »

http://www.zap2it.com/movies/news/story/0,1259,---16823,00.html

The Kung Fu of Keanu
By Vanessa Sibbald
Mon, May 05, 2003, 02:05 PM PT

 
HOLLYWOOD (Zap2it.com) - Thanks to "The Matrix" films, Keanu Reeves is becoming a martial arts film star. With a little help from Hong Kong-based choreographers Yuen Wo Ping and his brother, Yuen Cheung-Yam, Reeves has attained a level of mastery over what he dubs "movie kung fu." But does that mean he's better than martial arts star Jet Li?

"The Matrix" producer Joel Silver thinks so.

"I've made three pictures with Jet Li 'Lethal Weapon 4,' 'Romeo Must Die' and 'Cradle 2 the Grave' and I mean, not to incite anything here, what I said is working with them both, I think Keanu could take him," Silver tells Zap2it.com.

"Keanu doesn't like hearing me say this, but I think he could. I mean look, Jet has been doing this since he was 4 years old and he's very, very fast, very good at it -- but Keanu has really mastered this," he explains. "I wouldn't screw with him in an alley."

"Reloaded" co-choreographer Yuen Chueng-Yam says that what he tried to do is help each actor find their personal style, but he still referred to their fighting skills as "make believe."

 "You have to find their personal style and work around that. Film is the art of make believe, so you can work around their invulnerabilities," he recently said at UCLA's Heroic Grace Hong Kong film festival.

"I wouldn't make a distinction between real life and film kung fu because in front of the camera, you punch and you can pull back," he added.

But John Gaeta, visual effects supervision for "The Matrix" films, is on Silver's side. He says that Reeves isn't just going through the motions -- he's developed his own style.

"He has attitude, it reads in this performance there," he says referring to Reeves' fighting scenes in "Reloaded." "It's not just precision -- there is a flair. He actually has a style that's sort of unique to him, the snappiness of it."

Jet Li was actually offered a role in the two "Matrix" sequels, but had to turn it down in order to make the Zhang Yimou film, "Hero," which is slated for release this November.

"We were thinking of having him do the Saraph role (played by Collin Chou in the movie), but it was just dates and time and he just wasn't available to do it," says Silver.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2003, 10:46:09 PM »

The always thoughtful Ed Rothstein who does cultural columns for the NYT-- but don't hold that against him.

Crafty
--------------------------------

May 24, 2003
Philosophers Draw on the Film 'Matrix'
EDWARD ROTHSTEIN


Hundreds of millions of dollars ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a hacker named Neo reached into his bookcase and pulled out a leatherbound volume with the title "Simulacra and Simulation" ? a collection of essays by the French postmodernist philosopher Jean Baudrillard. But when Neo opened it to the chapter "On Nihilism," it turned out to be just a simulacrum of a book, hollowed out to hold computer disks.

It resembled, then, the rest of the real world in the 1999 film "The Matrix" ? the first of a trilogy directed and written by Larry and Andy Wachowski. That world, with its office buildings and restaurants and teeming populace, was, like its book, a hollowed-out illusion, a virtual universe filled with computer code, a simulacrum of ordinary life, which Neo, a master hacker, is gradually taught to see for what it is: the Matrix.

Neo is inducted into the horrifying truth: that human beings are unknowingly being force-fed this virtual fantasy while their bodies are held captive in gelatinous pods by bug-eyed machines. And as Neo learns to perceive how hidden code shapes the apparently real world surrounding him, so too did fans begin to examine the coded allusions lying within the film itself. Mr. Baudrillard was only the beginning. When asked how many hidden messages there were in "The Matrix," the Wachowski Brothers once teased, "More than you'll ever know."

Now that its sequel, "Matrix Reloaded," is out, the interpretive industry is also gearing up. After the first film, Christian allegorists leaped at the bait the authors left: characters named Neo and Trinity, allusions to Jesus and resurrection, a city named Zion. The Buddhist character of Neo's "awakening" to reality's veil of illusion was discussed. And academic interest grew because the film self-consciously tapped current fascination with pop culture and critical theory. Recent anthologies have included " `The Matrix' and Philosophy," edited by William Irwin (Open Court), "Taking the Red Pill," edited by Glenn Yeffeth (Benbella Books), and "Exploring the Matrix," edited by Karen Haber (St. Martin's Press). Even the Warner Brothers "Matrix" Web site contains a growing collection of papers by academic philosophers: (whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com/rl_cmp/new_phil_main.html).

Descartes, of course, is a recurring presence in these anthologies, since, like Neo, he attempted to discover what man can be certain about, even if, as he put it, a "malicious demon of the utmost power and cunning has employed all his energies in order to deceive me." Plato is invoked as well, particularly his allegory of the cave, in which prisoners are convinced that shadows on the cave's walls are the sole reality until they are freed by philosophical inquiry and led upward into the sunlight.

The problem is that in the movie, the cave is the reality ? the rebels hide out from demonic machines in the sewers of this post-apocalyptic world ? while those who dwell in the illusions of the Matrix bask in sunlight. One character, Cypher, explicitly prefers the world of the programmed Matrix, with its sensual pleasures, compared with the reality of darkness, warfare and struggle. So some philosophical essays ask, is there a reason the choice of the real world is more ethical?

But there is another twist to the Wachowskis' fable. The Matrix is not arbitrary; it is the world of contemporary America. It is our world. And the rebels, in discovering its illusory quality, the film suggests, are discovering the truth about our world: that it deserves to be overturned. "The Matrix" is a political allegory.

This is why Mr. Baudrillard's book "Simulacra and Simulation" is so closely associated with the film (some cast members were asked to read the book, which Morpheus, the rebel leader, also quotes). In these essays, mostly written in the 1970's, Mr. Baudrillard suggests that because of technology and the rise of modern capitalism, everything has become a simulacrum; as in the Matrix, nothing real remains. Disneyland is one of his examples: an imaginary world that invokes something "real," though that "real" world is just as imaginary. In fact, Mr. Baudrillard argues, Los Angeles and California are as fantastical as Disneyland.

There is a distaste for contemporary American culture in many of Mr. Baudrillard's analyses, and a distaste too for American power and its images. This is also shared by the rebels of "The Matrix," who reflect a kind of hacker ideology, seeking to "free" information from its "system" of control, to overturn the Matrix and its tyranny of images.

But this has a disturbing side. In the essay "On Nihilism" Mr. Baudrillard announces that in the face of "hegemonic" power, there is but one response: terrorism. He writes, "I am a terrorist and nihilist in theory as others are with their weapons." Similarly, in "The Matrix," Morpheus tells Neo he must regard all inhabitants of that virtual world as enemies that may be killed; anyway, most people are "not ready" for the truth. Morpheus is even wanted by the Matrix's ruthless agents for "acts of terrorism." While we are meant to cheer him on, neither Mr. Baudrillard nor the Wachowskis nor the philosophical essayists explore the ethical limits of these all-too-familiar convictions.

Now, though, in "Matrix Reloaded," something else takes place. At the risk of spoiling some plot twists, it is worth pointing out that, despite the film's flaws and misjudgments, it seems intent on questioning many ideas from the first film.

Some things stay the same. Neo and the rebels must head off a full-scale attempt by the machines to destroy the underground city, Zion, so the basic revolutionary posture remains intact. In some ways the film becomes even more extreme in its objections to American life (at one point, as a character speaks of the "grotesqueries" of human nature, background images of Hitler and George W. Bush appear).

But other things change. What exactly is Neo supposed to do? In the first film Morpheus hailed Neo as the One, the Savior of the real world. This belief in the real may be one reason Mr. Baudrillard has never found identification with "The Matrix" congenial, suggesting it has "stemmed mostly from misunderstandings" of his own work. But in the sequel he seems a nearer presence. Boundaries and premises break down. Morpheus's prophetic claims begin to seem strident. Neo can't even trust what he is told by the Oracle, a woman who foresees the future but who may also be manipulating Neo with her prophecies.

In fact we eventually learn through cryptic pronouncements of the Architect of the Matrix ? its software writer, its God ? that Neo is actually living in the sixth version of the Matrix. In each, a savior figure has arisen. And in each earlier case, the savior has not been able to free humanity at all. Instead, the result has been a large-scale loss of life, until the Matrix begins again, with an apparent upgrade ? a new web of earthly illusions ? allowing no recollections of the disastrous past. By the end, Neo has reason to wonder whether any revolutions accomplish what they claim, whether he is free to make a choice at all and whether even the real world is what it seems.

So the third movie, scheduled for November release, faces its own choice. It could end up moving even closer to the nihilism of Mr. Baudrillard and its ultimately sordid message. But faced with what Mr. Baudrillard has called "the desert of the real," it could also find some other path, as yet undreamed of in its philosophy, that may bring hackers, humans and machines together.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2003, 12:24:26 AM »

Today: Memorial Day, The Matrix

I took down the flag at sunset, and did my little memorial day ceremony then. There?s something about the folding of the flag that makes you stand up straight and wipe that smile off your face, because you can?t help but wonder what it would feel like to hand it to a widow.

I?m particularly grateful today for the sacrifice of the soldiers, who allowed me to live in a nation whose Constitution does not permit my child the right to whine for chocolate milk for six straight hours. The EU Constitution will, it seems, at least as I read Article 24: ?(Children) may express their views freely.? And these views ?shall be taken into consideration on matters which concern them, in accordance with their age and maturity.? I WANT CANDY is now a Constitutional issue. I exaggerate of course, but the EU Constitution gives me the creeps. The more specific the set of rights, the easier it is to deny all others, and infringe on the rights your Eurobetters kindly deign to grant.

I?m doing a Newhouse column on this, and alas I haven?t the space to draw all the parallels with the 1977 Soviet Constitution, which I have right before me now. It?s a masterpiece of high-minded hypocrisy, and there are so many passages that mirror the EU Constitution - which of course proves nothing. <sgtschultz voice. IT PRRRRUVS NOTINK! </sgtschultz voice> But one does get the impression that in either case it?s the state granting the rights, not acknowledging that you have these rights already and that the state shall promise to get out of the way. Small, tiny, minor point. Almost too small to mention.

I saw the Matrix Reloaded Friday. I was looking forward to this one, since I loved the original. I don't care about any of the subtextual meanings or the backstory or whether it's the purest distillation of the zeitgiest, etc. - I just thought the first Matrix was like no other movie I'd seen, and I wanted to go back to that story and get knocked around some more.


Short version of the review - Attention, Wachowski Brothers: put down the bong and step away from the script.

Long version follows.

Of my innumerable complaints, the one that rankles me the least is Zion, but it's a long-standing worry of mine: who builds these massive lairs? Zion is a gigantic underground complex; looks to be about thirty stories deep. Who built it? Oh, I know: after the machines took over, everyone got down on their hands and knees and just dug like crazy until they heard Chinese voices. No, that can?t be right. It appears to be some sort of pre-Matrix industrial facility; I think I saw ?ZION STEEL? on the side of some great wheel. If so, that makes perfect sense. Let?s imagine the pitch to the board of directors:

?Ladies, gentlemen, thank you for coming. I have here the design for our latest, most modern steel plant, a facility I believe will be the envy of the industry. We?ll be locating it here, three-quarters of a mile underground, right by downtown. As you can see from this diagram, there will be a thirty-story chamber that will house the 250,000 people required to staff the facility; over here, in a separate 10-story chamber, we will house the machinery necessary for growing food, recirculating the water, and so on. Of course, you?re wondering - where will we put the hovercraft that will ferry the steel to the surface through huge tunnels? Right here, in a vast bay the size of three Sydney Opera Houses. I expect that we can begin work on the service tunnels next year, and complete them within seven years. Questions??

?Um - it?s all underground? The steel mill is entirely underground??

?That?s right. Tall as a 50-story building, when completed. It will be the world?s biggest underground steel mill.?

?It?ll be the world?s only underground steel mill.?

?True, but even if that were not the case it would probably be larger than any other by a factor of five.?

?Mate, this Australia. We have land. You can drive for three days without seeing another car. And you want to dig a mile deep pit in a Melbourne residential district to build a steel mill??

?Well, if you put it right in the suburb, they?d complain about the pollution, now wouldn?t they? And the noise. And the lights at night. This way no one smells or hears a thing.?

?Yes, but isn?t that what industrial parks are for? And you could take the steel out on trains.?

?I?m not quite following you.?

?Trains. Choo-choos? I think I can I think I can? They go on the ground on tracks -?

?So you want to put tracks in the tunnels??

?No! I don?t want to build any bloody tunnels at all! Your design calls for the equivalent of seven Chunnels to be constructed before we even get around to building the steel mill - and at a time when international steel prices are at historic lows!?

?Which is why we should get started as soon as possible, yes.?

Yet the visionary prevailed, and Zion was built. I don?t know what the filmmakers thought our reaction would be, but to me it was sheer hell: a rusted hole full of hippies in robes. One look at the place and I?d lasso a squiddie, head to the surface, and bang on the door of Evil Machine HQ: Hello, one Coppertop wants in, sign here, THANK you.

The Matrix may be fake, but so is lo-fat soft-serve dessert. Zion is that crappy homemade ice-cream that has chunks of salt and carob instead of proper chocolate. Everyone?s commented on the infamous rave scene, in which the population of Zion crams into the Temple Of No Particular Faith and confronts their imminent death by dancing ecstatically. Big huge slo-mo close-up of feet squishing in the mud. All of a sudden I was channeling my inner Agent Smith. I can?t stand the smell, he said of the Matrix. Buddy, if you thought an average air-conditioned office was bad, try 3 AM in a huge nightclub packed with a quarter-million sweaty people who live on beans.

Did I mention that there?s a Spunky Kid in Zion? An eager Spunky Kid who idolizes Neo? Gosh, Neo, next year I?ll be old enough to join a crew, and I was thinking I could join yours! It?s as if someone sampled a ladleful of an early draft of the script, pursed their lips, and finally said ?Needs more Wesley Crusher. And maybe a dash of Short Round.? At one point the Spunky Kid gives Neo a gift from all the other orphan kids down at the Zion Orphanage and Bean-Paste Processing Center. It?s a spoon. Get it? A SPOON! Because as we know from the first movie, there is no spoon. Except when there is.

That?s the level of metaphysical pretension at work here. The first hour of the movie is so incredibly talky you begin to wish Freddy or Jason would show up and start disemboweling people. Every scene goes like this:

?Let?s have supper. I want some beans.?

?Ah, you think you want beans. But what are beans? Do you want the beans you are thinking of, or the beans you will have??

?I am not certain. Perhaps the Oracle will know.?

?Perhaps. The Oracle knows beans. Whether she knows whether the beans she knows are the beans that are right for you only she will know. You must choose whether you accept what she says.?

?But what if I do not??

?Then perhaps you wanted a nice salad. Perhaps you wanted the salad all along.?

?But I have chosen beans.?

?Did you really? Or did you not choose the beans because you were predestined to do so by the fact that you bought corn chips last week? And is that really choice??

I?m not kidding. By the time they sit down with the Marovingian we?ve had half a dozen of these gas attacks. And then the Marovingian launches into another. By way of demonstrating what an evil SOB the Marovingian is, we see him make a woman eat a slice of cake that makes her . . . do what? Explode? Speak in tongues? Fly out the window? No: it makes her get up from her table and go to the bathroom. He?s invented cybernetic laxative! But do we really choose to run to the bathroom with the cake suddenly causes our bowels to flutter, or -

And so forth and so on, for two-plus hours. More wire-fu, none of which means anything because it?s apparent you could drop a Monty-Python-brand 10-ton weight on Neo and it wouldn?t ruffle his hair. He?s Superman, flying with his fist outstretched. Actually, given his status as the Savior / pagan renewal archetype, he?s SuperChrist the Systemic Anomaly Fisher King.

I knew I was disengaged from the movie when the Oracle told Neo to find ?the keymaker,? and I thought of Harold Ramis joining Sigourney Weaver to bring about the rule of Zuul. Come to think of it, the movie needed a big dose of Ghostbusting. Not in the gentle wisecracking Bill Murray sense. It needed plagues, ghosts, apparitions, giant Sta-Puft Marshmallow Men stalking down the streets in Matrixland. If Neo and his crew wanted to defeat the machines, why not play with the heads of everyone in the Matrix? Get inside the program. HACK IT. Use your m@d h@X0r skilz and give everyone a reason to disbelieve reality. But from what we see Neo et al have spent the last four years doing nothing but assembling a top-notch team of Scowling Operatives whose day jobs consist of crafting really cool sunglasses. Because, you know, you really need sunglasses on a planet with no sunlight.


Finally: there?s that interminable highway set-piece. A few minutes into the much vaunted highway chase, I realized that the opening trailer for Bad Boys 2 had been much more exciting. Oh, I wanted to enjoy this part, and I did, I suppose. (Whenever someone decides to go the wrong way on a freeway in a movie, I always wish they?d be passed by William Pederson.) But from the start you had to deal with the Albino Twins, both of whom studied marksmanship at the Fett School of Riflery. And after they?d been dispatched, we had a very, very, very long fight on top of a semi trailer. Lots of kicking. Lots of not-quite-falling-off-the-truck moments. Oh, it had some spectacular visuals, but compare it with the penultimate action scene in the original Matrix. That scene consisted simply of two protagonists walking & shooting the length of a office building lobby. And it was more exciting than 12 minutes spent racing down a hundred miles of highway.

The Architect: good scene. It could have been a little clearer, and if they hadn?t spent half the movie ladling out cold chunks of dormroom reefer-party philosophy, this could have been a killer scene. This would have yanked the carpet out from beneath the entire premise, but by the time we got to him he was just another character with a sackful of cynical bromides. At least you?re glad it?s not Donald Sutherland, because when we first see him you think: hey, it?s Donald Sutherland. Any movie that gives you Anthony Zerbe is warning you that

At one point the Architect notes that he had to add the blacker, badder human elements to the Matrix to make the simulation work. The video screens show Hitler. And for a second they show George Bush Sr. Boy, that?s the sort of insightful commentary I thought you had to read Boondocks to find.

When the green-and-grey Warner Brothers appeared and the CRT characters started raining down, I was happy. It reminded me of how I felt with the first Matrix began, how I instantly felt dread, strangeness, and anticipation. Not a single moment in the two hours gave me any of those feelings. The action scenes all moved quickly but you had the feeling of an immense machinery beneath the surface laboring hard to produce the illusion of fleetness. After the opening sequence I had the exact same impression I had after the opening sequence of ?Batman Returns.? Ten times the budget, ten times the production values, ten times the hype. One tenth the enjoyment.

There were six other people in the theater. Two of them rose at the end of the movie, went down the hall to another theater where the ?Matrix Reloaded? was also playing.

If Star Trek fans are Trekkies, does that make Matrix fans ?Trixies??
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Origin > Virtual Realities > THE HUMAN MACHINE MERGER: ARE WE HEADED FOR THE MATRIX?
Permanent link to this article: http://www.kurzweilai.net/meme/frame.html?main=/articles/art0552.html
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      THE HUMAN MACHINE MERGER: ARE WE HEADED FOR THE MATRIX?
by   Ray Kurzweil
 


Most viewers of The Matrix consider the more fanciful elements--intelligent computers, downloading information into the human brain, virtual reality indistinguishable from real life--to be fun as science fiction, but quite remote from real life. Most viewers would be wrong. As renowned computer scientist and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil explains, these elements are very feasible and are quite likely to be a reality within our lifetimes.


To be published in Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and Religion in The Matrix (Ben Bella Books, April 2003). Published on KurzweilAI.net March 3, 2003.
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The Matrix is set in a world one hundred years in the future, a world offering a seemingly miraculous array of technological marvels?sentient (if malevolent) programs, the ability to directly download capabilities into the human brain, and the creation of virtual realities indistinguishable from the real world. For most viewers these developments may appear to be pure science fiction:interesting to consider, but of little relevance to the world outside the movie theatre. But this view is shortsighted. In my view, these developments will become a reality within the next three to four decades.

I've become a student of technology trends as an outgrowth of my career as an inventor. If you work on creating technologies, you need to anticipate where technology will be at points in the future so that your project will be feasible and useful when it's completed, not just when you started. Over the course of a few decades of anticipating technology, I've become a student of technology trends and have developed mathematical models of how technologies in different areas are developing.

This has given me the ability to invent things that use the materials of the future, not just limiting my ideas to the resources we have today. Alan Kay has noted, "To anticipate the future we need to invent it." So we can invent with future capabilities if we have some idea of what they will be.

Perhaps the most important insight that I've gained, which people are quick to agree with but very slow to really internalize and appreciate all of its implications, is the accelerating pace of technical change itself.

One Nobel laureate recently said to me: "There's no way we're going to see self-replicating nanotechnological entities for at least a hundred years." And yes, that's actually a reasonable estimate of how much work it will take. It'll take a hundred years of progress, at today's rate of progress, to get self-replicating nanotechnological entities. But the rate of progress is not going to remain at today's rate; according to my models, it's doubling every decade.

We will make a hundred years of progress at today's rate of progress in 25 years. The next ten years will be like twenty, and the following ten years will be like 40. The 21st century will therefore be like 20,000 years of progress?at today's rate. The twentieth century, as revolutionary as it was, did not have a hundred years of progress at today's rate; since we accelerated up to today's rate, it really was about 20 years of progress. The 21st century will be about a thousand times greater, in terms of change and paradigm shift, than the 20th century.

A lot of these trends stem from thinking about the implications of Moore's Law. Moore's Law refers to integrated circuits and famously states that the computing power available for a given price will double every twelve to twenty-four months. Moore's Law has become a synonym for the exponential growth of computing.

I've been thinking about Moore's Law and its context for at least twenty years. What is the real nature of this exponential trend? Where does it come from? Is it an example of something deeper and more profound? As I will show, the exponential growth of computing goes substantially beyond Moore's Law. Indeed, exponential growth goes beyond just computation, and applies to every area of information-based technology, technology that will ultimately reshape our world.

Observers have pointed out that Moore's Law is going to come to an end. According to Intel and other industry experts, we'll run out of space on an integrated circuit within fifteen years, because the key features will only be a few atoms in width. So will that be the end of the exponential growth of computing?

That's a very important question as we ponder the nature of the 21st century. To address this question, I put 49 famous computers on an exponential graph. Down at the lower left hand corner is the data processing machinery that was used in the 1890 American census (calculating equipment using punch cards). In 1940, Alan Turing developed a computer based on telephone relays that cracked the German enigma code and gave Winston Churchill a transcription of nearly all the Nazi messages. Churchill needed to use these transcriptions with great discretion, because he realized that using them could tip off the Germans prematurely.

If, for example, he had warned Coventry authorities that their city was going to be bombed, the Germans would have seen the preparations and realized that their code had been cracked. However, in the Battle of Britain, the English flyers seemed to magically know where the German flyers were at all times.

In 1952, CBS used a more sophisticated computer based on vacuum tubes to predict the election of a U.S. president, President Eisenhower. In the upper right-hand corner is the computer sitting on your desk right now.

One insight we can see on this chart is that Moore's Law was not the first but the fifth paradigm to provide exponential growth of computing power. Each vertical line represents the movement into a different paradigm: electro-mechanical, relay-based, vacuum tubes, transistors, integrated circuits. Every time a paradigm ran out of steam, another paradigm came along and picked up where that paradigm left off.

People are very quick to criticize exponential trends, saying that ultimately they'll run out of resources, like rabbits in Australia. But every time one particular paradigm reached its limits, another, completely different method would continue the exponential growth. They were making vacuum tubes smaller and smaller but finally got to a point where they couldn't make them any smaller and maintain the vacuum. Then transistors came along, which are not just small vacuum tubes. They're a completely different paradigm.

Every horizontal level on this graph represents a multiplication of computing power by a factor of a hundred. A straight line in an exponential graph means exponential growth. What we see here is that the rate of exponential growth is itself growing exponentially. We doubled the computing power every three years at the beginning of the century, every two years in the middle, and we're now doubling it every year.

It's obvious what the sixth paradigm will be: computing in three dimensions. After all, we live in a three-dimensional world and our brain is organized in three dimensions. The brain uses a very inefficient type of circuitry. Neurons are very large "devices," and they're extremely slow. They use electrochemical signaling that provides only about 200 calculations per second, but the brain gets its prodigious power from parallel computing resulting from being organized in three dimensions. Three-dimensional computing technologies are beginning to emerge. There's an experimental technology at MIT's Media Lab that has 300 layers of circuitry. In recent years, there have been substantial strides in developing three-dimensional circuits that operate at the molecular level.

Nanotubes, which are my favorite, are hexagonal arrays of carbon atoms that can be organized to form any type of electronic circuit. You can create the equivalent of transistors and other electrical devices. They're physically very strong, with 50 times the strength of steel. The thermal issues appear to be manageable. A one-inch cube of nanotube circuitry would be a million times more powerful than the computing capacity of the human brain.

Over the last several years, there has been a sea change in the level of confidence in building three-dimensional circuits and achieving at least the hardware capacity to emulate human intelligence. This has raised a more salient issue, namely that "Moore's Law may be true for hardware but it's not true for software."

From my own four decades of experience with software development, I believe that is not the case. Software productivity is increasing very rapidly. As an example from one of my own companies, in 15 years, we went from a $5,000 speech-recognition system that recognized a thousand words poorly, without continuous speech, to a $50 product with a hundred-thousand-word vocabulary that's far more accurate. That's typical for software products. With all of the efforts in new software development tools, software productivity has also been growing exponentially, albeit with a smaller exponent than we see in hardware.

Many other technologies are improving exponentially. When the genome project was started about 15 years ago, skeptics pointed out that at the rate at which we can scan the genome, it will take 10,000 years to finish the project. The mainstream view was that there would be improvements, but there was no way that the project could be completed in 15 years. But the price-performance and throughput of DNA sequencing doubled every year, and the project was completed in less than 15 years. In twelve years, we went from a cost of $10 to sequence a DNA base pair to a tenth of a cent.

Even longevity has been improving exponentially. In the 18th century, every year we added a few days to human life expectancy. In the 19th century, every year, we added a few weeks. We're now adding about 120 days every year to human life expectancy. And with the revolutions now in an early stage in genomics, therapeutic cloning, rational drug design, and the other biotechnology transformations, many observers including myself anticipate that within ten years we'll be adding more than a year, every year. So, if you can hang in there for another ten years, we'll get ahead of the power curve and be able to live long enough to see the remarkable century ahead.

Miniaturization is another very important exponential trend. We're making things smaller at a rate of 5.6 per linear dimension per decade. Bill Joy, in the essay following this one, has, as one of his recommendations, to essentially forgo nanotechnology. But nanotechnology is not a single unified field, only worked on by nanotechnologists. Nanotechnology is simply the inevitable end result of the pervasive trend toward making things smaller, which we've been doing for many decades.

Above is a chart of computing's exponential growth, projected into the 21st century. Right now, your typical $1000 PC is somewhere between an insect and a mouse brain. The human brain has about 100 billion neurons, with about 1,000 connections from one neuron to another. These connections operate very slowly, on the order of 200 calculations per second, but 100 billion neurons times 1,000 connections creates 100 trillion-fold parallelism. Multiplying that by 200 calculations per second yields 20 million billion calculations per second, or, in computing terminology, 20 billion MIPS. We'll have 20 billion MIPS for $1000 by the year 2020.

Now that won't automatically give us human levels of intelligence, because the organization, the software, the content and the embedded knowledge are equally important. Below I will address the scenario in which I envision achieving the software of human intelligence, but I believe it is clear that we will have the requisite computing power. By 2050, $1000 of computing will equal one billion human brains. That might be off by a year or two, but the 21st century won't be wanting for computational resources.

Now let's consider the virtual-reality framework envisioned by The Matrix?a virtual reality which is indistinguishable from true reality. This will be feasible, but I do quibble with one point. The thick cable entering Neo's brainstem made for a powerful visual, but it's unnecessary; all of these connections can be wireless. Let's go out to 2029 and put together some of the trends that I've discussed. By that time, we'll be able to build nanobots, microscopic-sized robots that can go inside your capillaries and travel through your brain and scan the brain from inside. We can almost build these kinds of circuits today. We can't make them quite small enough, but we can make them fairly small.

The Department of Defense is developing tiny robotic devices called "Smart Dust." The current generation is one millimeter?that's too big for this scenario?but these tiny devices can be dropped from a plane, and find positions with great precision. You can have many thousands of these on a wireless local area network. They can then take visual images, communicate with each other, coordinate, send messages back, act as nearly invisible spies, and accomplish a variety of military objectives.

We are already building blood-cell-sized devices that go inside the blood stream, and there are four major conferences on the topic of "bioMEMS" (biological Micro Electronic Mechanical Systems). The nanobots I am envisioning for 2029 will not necessarily require their own navigation. They could move involuntarily through the bloodstream and, as they travel by different neural features, communicate with them the same way that we now communicate with different cells within a cell phone system.

Brain-scanning resolution, speeds, and costs are all exploding exponentially. With every new generation of brain scanning we can see with finer and finer resolution. There's a technology today that allows us to view many of the salient details of the human brain. Of course, there's still no full agreement on what those details are, but we can see brain features with very high resolution, provided the scanning tip is right next to the features. We can scan a brain today and see the brain's activity with very fine detail; you just have to move the scanning tip all throughout the brain so that it's in close proximity to every neural feature.

Now how are we going to do that without making a mess of things? The answer is to send the scanners inside the brain. By design, our capillaries travel by every interneuronal connection, every neuron and every neural feature. We can send billions of these scanning robots, all on a wireless local area network, and they would all scan the brain from inside and create a very high-resolution map of everything that's going on.

What are we going to do with the massive database of neural information that develops? One thing we will do is reverse-engineer the brain, that is, understand the basic principles of how it works. This is an endeavor we have already started. We already have high resolution scans of certain areas of the brain. The brain is not one organ; it's comprised of several hundred specialized regions, each organized differently. We have scanned certain areas of the auditory and visual cortex, and have used this information to design more intelligent software. Carver Mead at Caltech, for example, has developed powerful, digitally controlled analog chips that are based on these biologically inspired models from the reverse engineering of portions of the visual and auditory systems. His visual sensing chips are used in high-end digital cameras.

We have demonstrated that we are able to understand these algorithms, but they're different from the algorithms that we typically run on our computers. They're not sequential and they're not logical; they're chaotic, highly parallel, and self-organizing. They have a holographic nature in that there's no chief-executive-officer neuron. You can eliminate any of the neurons, cut any of the wires, and it makes little difference?the information and the processes are distributed throughout a complex region.

Based on these insights, we have developed a number of biologically inspired models today. This is the field I work in, using techniques such as evolutionary "genetic algorithms" and "neural nets," which use biologically inspired models. Today's neural nets are mathematically simplified, but as we get a more powerful understanding of the principles of operation of different brain regions, we will be in a position to develop much more powerful, biologically inspired models. Ultimately we can create and recreate these processes, retaining their inherently massively parallel, digitally controlled analog, chaotic, and self-organizing properties. We will be able to recreate the types of processes that occur in the hundreds of different brain regions, and create entities?they actually won't be in silicon, they'll probably be using something like nanotubes?that have the complexity, richness, and depth of human intelligence.

Our machines today are still a million times simpler than the human brain, which is one key reason that they still don't have the endearing qualities of people. They don't yet have our ability to get the joke, to be funny, to understand people, to respond appropriately to emotion, or to have spiritual experiences. These are not side effects of human intelligence, or distractions; they are the cutting edge of human intelligence. It will require a technology of the complexity of the human brain to create entities that have those kinds of attractive and convincing features.

Getting back to virtual reality, let's consider a scenario involving a direct connection between the human brain and these nanobot-based implants. There are a number of different technologies that have already been demonstrated for communicating in both directions between the wet, analog world of neurons and the digital world of electronics. One such technology, called a neuron transistor, provides this two-way communication. If a neuron fires, this neuron transistor detects that electromagnetic pulse, so that's communication from the neuron to the electronics. It can also cause the neuron to fire or prevent it from firing.

For full-immersion virtual reality, we will send billions of these nanobots to take up positions by every nerve fiber coming from all of our senses. If you want to be in real reality, they sit there and do nothing. If you want to be in virtual reality, they suppress the signals coming from our real senses and replace them with the signals that you would have been receiving if you were in the virtual environment.

In this scenario, we will have virtual reality from within and it will be able to recreate all of our senses. These will be shared environments, so you can go there with one person or many people. Going to a Web site will mean entering a virtual-reality environment encompassing all of our senses, and not just the five senses, but also emotions, sexual pleasure, humor. There are actually neurological correlates of all of these sensations and emotions, which I discuss in my book The Age of the Spiritual Machines.

For example, surgeons conducting open-brain surgery on a young woman (while awake) found that stimulating a particular spot in the girl's brain would cause her to laugh. The surgeons thought that they were just stimulating an involuntary laugh reflex. But they discovered that they were stimulating the perception of humor: whenever they stimulated this spot, she found everything hilarious. "You guys are just so funny standing there" was a typical remark.

Using these nanobot-based implants, you will be able to enhance or modify your emotional responses to different experiences. That can be part of the overlay of these virtual-reality environments. You will also be able to have different bodies for different experiences. Just as people today project their images from Web cams in their apartment, people will beam their whole flow of sensory and even emotional experiences out on the Web, so you can, ? la the plot concept of the movie Being John Malkovich, experience the lives of other people.

Ultimately, these nanobots will expand human intelligence and our abilities and facilities in many different ways. Because they're communicating with each other wirelessly, they can create new neural connections. These can expand our memory, cognitive faculties, and pattern-recognition abilities. We will expand human intelligence by expanding its current paradigm of massive interneuronal connections as well as through intimate connection to non-biological forms of intelligence.

We will also be able to download knowledge, something that machines can do today that we are unable to do. For example, we spent several years training one research computer to understand human speech using the biologically inspired models?neural nets, Markov models, genetic algorithms, self-organizing patterns?that are based on our crude current understanding of self-organizing systems in the biological world. A major part of the engineering project was collecting thousands of hours of speech from different speakers in different dialects and then exposing this to the system and having it try to recognize the speech. It made mistakes, and then we had it adjust automatically, and self-organize to better reflect what it had learned.

Over many months of this kind of training, it made substantial improvements in its ability to recognize speech. Today, if you want your personal computer to recognize human speech, you don't have to spend years training it the same painstaking way, as we need to do with every human child. You can just load the evolved models, it's called "loading the software." So machines can share their knowledge. We don't have quick downloading ports on our brains. But as we build nonbiological analogs of our neurons, interconnections, and neurotransmitter levels where our skills and memories are stored, we won't leave out the equivalent of downloading ports. We'll be able to download capabilities as easily as Trinity downloads the program that allows her to fly the B-212 helicopter.

When you talk to somebody in the year 2040, you will be talking to someone who may happen to be of biological origin but whose mental processes are a hybrid of biological and electronic thinking processes, working intimately together. Instead of being restricted, as we are today, to a mere hundred trillion connections in our brain, we'll be able to expand substantially beyond this level. Our biological thinking is flat; the human race has an estimated 1026 calculations per second, and that biologically determined figure is not going to grow. But nonbiological intelligence is growing exponentially. The crossover point, according to my calculations, is in the 2030s; some people call this the Singularity.

As we get to 2050, the bulk of our thinking?which in my opinion is still an expression of human civilization?will be nonbiological. I don't believe that the Matrix scenario of malevolent artificial intelligences in mortal conflict with humans is inevitable. At that point, the nonbiological portion of our thinking will still be human thinking, because it's going to be derived from human thinking. Its programming will be created by humans, or created by machines that are created by humans, or created by machines that are based on reverse-engineering of the human brain or downloads of human thinking, or one of many other intimate connections between human and machine thinking that we can't even contemplate today.

A common reaction to this is that this is a dystopian vision, because I am "placing humanity with the machines." But that's because most people have a prejudice against machines. Most observers don't truly understand what machines are ultimately capable of, because all the machines that they've ever "met" are very limited, compared to people. But that won't be true of machines circa 2030 and 2040. When machines are derived from human intelligence and are a million times more capable, we'll have a different respect for machines, and there won't be a clear distinction between human and machine intelligence. We will effectively merge with our technology.

We are already well down this road. If all the machines in the world stopped today, our civilization would grind to a halt. That wasn't true as recently as thirty years ago. In 2040, human and machine intelligence will be deeply and intimately melded. We will become capable of far more profound experiences of many diverse kinds. We'll be able to "recreate the world" according to our imaginations and enter environments as amazing as that of The Matrix, but, hopefully, a world more open to creative human expression and experience.

SOURCES

BOOKS

Kurzweil, Ray, The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Intelligence (Penguin USA, 2000).

? 2003 BenBella Books. Published on KurzweilAI.net with permission.
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   Mind?X Discussion About This Article:

 
  Seperate realities and consciousness
posted on 03/03/2003 7:49 AM by Timothy
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 There is a strong parallel between the concept behind the Matrix and dreaming, particularly lucid dreaming - where the dreamer is aware he or she is dreaming while dreaming. The parallel of course is the experience of a separate reality. I expect the experience of full-immersion in a virtual reality to be very similar to the experience of lucid dreaming. But what will be the consequence of being able to move between all these different realities?

It will make people - or intelligent machines - wonder how real our so-called reality actually is. In the end it will become clear that the only thing that persists in all of these realities is consciousness itself, not the world, not even you as a person, but undefined consciousness itself.

We will find our home is consciousness, not any one of the realities we'll experience. Of course, this can be realized even now, but experiencing a multitude of seperate realities will put all realites in a new, more dream-like perspective. Consciousness will naturally emerge as the "really real" because it's the only common ground in all realities.

So, by all means, take the red pill!

For more on "consciousness":
http://www.7freedom.com/consciousness.htm

Timothy Schoorel
 
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  Re: Seperate realities and consciousness
posted on 03/12/2003 4:26 PM by DaVinci
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 1. What?s the difference between Morpheus and Agent Smith?

Suppose you are Neo and you have heard both Morpheus and Agent Smith make eloquent speeches about how they see the world, about their reasons, about their feelings. Based on that you have to answer a fundamental question, that is: Who is real? Who is conscious?
Morpheus? Agent Smith? Both? None?
All you can say is that you know that you are conscious and that?s all. You cannot say the same about other people. You see them, you smell them, you touch them, and you talk to them. They talk back to you and it seems they react as conscious beings would do. But how can you be sure? How can another person prove to you that he/she really exists as a being having emotions and volitions?

If in a hardware or software simulation of a human being, words and gestures are produced by lines of programmed software, a similar process occur when you dream. In your dreams there are other people with whom you interact and they appear as conscious as the persons in real life but it?s only your brain simulating them. So where is the difference? If you cannot tell a machine simulating conscience from a real conscious machine, if you cannot tell a dreamed person from the real one, then how can you judge what conscience is in the first place?

2. What?s the difference between Zion and The Matrix?

Suppose that you are Neo again. You are sound asleep and you are dreaming. While you dream the dreamscape is what is real, maybe the sun is shining and you feel the summer breeze. It seems real. The images of persons that populate the dreamscape are like real persons. They interact with you as expected, they get angry if you annoy them, they even laugh at your jokes. Well everything seems coherent. Maybe deep inside you feel that this reality is not solid enough, that there must be something else, but then you reject the whole idea as nonsense?
Suddenly you awake and perceive with sadness or relief that what you tough was reality was just another dream.

So now you are in the real world and must do the things real people do: brush your teeth, eat your cereal and crawl to your boring workplace, right? Not today. Today events will occur that will end with you taking a red pill and...

Suddenly you awake and perceive in excruciating agony that what you tough was reality was nothing more than a massive computer simulation.
Hey, but now is for real! Now you know what The Matrix is: It?s the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. Exactly, so how can you tell when the blindfold has been removed?

You where fooled by your brain dreaming reality, then you where fooled by an electronic brain simulating reality. Now, how can you be sure that you are not been fooled by this cool dressed man named Morpheus. Where it all ends?

If you accept that a particular reality is a dream or a simulation, what stops you from accepting that the world in which this reality is being simulated is not another simulation.

It cannot be that The Matrix is not but an insignificant part of realities inside realities?

?you dream that a computer simulates that you dream a dream?

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  Re: Seperate realities and consciousness
posted on 03/13/2003 5:18 AM by Timothy
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 In response to 1:

Your question is how one can judge what conscience - being conscious - is in the first place. The article by David Chalmers on this website, "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness", takes the first steps in laying down a framework for judging whether something or someone is a conscious entity. Mr. Chalmers basically says that we may not be able to prove consciousness, but that there is a possibility that we might understand the requirements for "subjective experience". I can see his point and I think his approach to this problem is very promising.

When you say "All you can say is that you know that you are conscious and that's all.", I think this is not correct. All I can say is that there is consciousness. In this consciousness different realities appear, exist, and dissapear. In this consciousness different "me's" appear, exist, and dissapear. It seems to me that this unmovable consciousness is much, much more fundamental than any human being or intelligent machine could ever be.

I do not think that consciousness emerges from within the human being, rather, the human being and all of these realities that we are talking about emerge from consciousness! But David Chalmers is right in that there are requirements for "subjective experience". For example, if I stop eating and drinking, pretty soon the subjective experience of "Timothy" will disappear. Consciousness however, does not disappear as should be clear from the fact that many people have died in your lifetime, yet you are still conscious!

In response to 2:

As I said in the post you replied to, none of the realities we will ever experience is ultimately real. This was what I was trying to convey. Neither Zion nor The Matrix is ultimately real. Consciousness will be understood as the "really real", as the ultimate reality. For no reality can exist without consciousness. If there was no awareness whatsoever, then in what way would reality exist? Consciousness is the background, the in-ground of any so-called reality.

Links:
Article by David Chalmers:
http://www.kurzweilai.net/meme/frame.html?main=/ar ticles/art0512.html
Consciousness does not emerge from within the human being:
http://www.7freedom.com/humanparadigm.htm

Timothy Schoorel
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  Re: Seperate realities and consciousness
posted on 03/13/2003 9:56 AM by DaVinci
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 If consciousness is absolute and independs from the ideas of self and reality, then why should experience arise from the physical? When dreaming, experiences are not arising from physical stimulus. If all sensorial input to a conscious being ceases, subjective experience would just fade away? Or will this conscious being create a virtual reality of it?s own and continue experiencing? Will it create an entire universe of it?s own complete with physical laws and logic and internal coherence? If this can be, then it could be said that a reality exists only because there is a consciousness willing to experience it.
In this way, the world has not been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. You created the world. Indeed there is not even You, not in the normal sense. The notion of You as an entity separated from the ?others? does not make sense in this context. There is, as you say it, only this unmovable consciousness. There are no separate realities and consciousness.
There is only You.
But like in a dream you just don?t remember.
 
   
 
  Re: Seperate realities and consciousness
posted on 03/14/2003 6:37 AM by Timothy
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 The question of how and when subjective experience arises from the physical is beginning to be answered by science, the question of why may or may not be of a different order. It's possible that we discover that experience simply has to arise from the physical in order for the physical to exist. Subjective experience could be a Quantum Mechanical imperative: without subjective experience no physical universe.

When you say "a conscious being" you continue and seem to mean consciousness itself. Consciousness itself however is not "a being", is not divided into seperate "consciousnesses". Spiritual traditions may have called it "The Supreme Being", or "the Creator". But consciousness is impersonal, has no will of its own and therefor the universe is a natural and spontanuous thing, rather than the result of a willfull act of creating.

If you did not mean consciousness itself but an entity that has a level of complexity and sophistication that results in subjective experience then it's just a question of whether the conditions for subjective experience are fulfilled or not, and not a question of "a consciousness willing to experience" something.

You say: "When dreaming, experiences are not arising from physical stimulus." This may be true but dreams do arise from some physical process in the brain. In other words, the subjective experience still has a physiological basis.

Your last comment: "But like in a dream you just don't remember.", is not necessarily true: in a dream there is the possibility of being aware that you are dreaming - as I pointed out in my first post in this thread. And it is just as possible to realize that you are really this undefined, unmovable, boundless and placeless consciousness: that's when you discover the reality beyond "the Matrix", beyond experience. In Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta this is called Realization, Self-Realization or Enlightenment. This may not be a very common phenomenon but has nevertheless occured many times throughout human history.

Links:
For more on "Enlightenment":
http://www.7freedom.com/enlightenment.htm

Timothy Schoorel

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  Re: Seperate realities and consciousness
posted on 05/24/2003 12:07 PM by surf_the_now
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 I have had some experience in this endevour. I am initiated in himalayan yoga by a teacher who has passed on at 95 and I have taken peyote with the Native American Church in Sante Fe, New Mexico in 1966. So the linkage between consciousness and the ego is an interesting one and as far as spirituality an important nexus. Jung, the man who invented the term archetypal played with the concept of mass consciousness and man's symbols. So as in the Matrix where there is a battle of ego, some defining super-ego and the ego-less hive mentality [in this case represented by the adversary] the journey of the individual 'soul' to join the ocean of the 'supreme consciousness or being' is a question I have asked also. One perplexing and difficult situation for the individual in my mind is: When am I not myself and the feeling of loss of self. Sleep is 'the little death' and we enter into it not only to dream but repair the physical body and perhaps more balancing of functions I am not defining. The old vedic expression 'this is not the real body' may be more on target than we can even know.
 
   
 
  Re: THE HUMAN MACHINE MERGER: ARE WE HEADED FOR THE MATRIX?
posted on 03/04/2003 3:27 AM by Thomas Kristan
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 Ray said:

> The thick cable entering Neo's brainstem made for a powerful visual, but it's unnecessary;

Not only that! People will not _like_ the 'cable future'! Less than cloning, I think.

The Matrix is a bad example. A scary one.

- Thomas

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  Re: THE HUMAN MACHINE MERGER: ARE WE HEADED FOR THE MATRIX?
posted on 03/04/2003 12:32 PM by grantcc
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 The purpose of the cable was to scare the film goer. Just as nearly all Hollywood aliens are ugly (they are, after all the villains and we have to hate them to enjoy killing them) and most heros are good looking (by Hollywood standards) we have to take into account the purpose of the depiction -- to scare and thus give a thrill to the filmgoer. It's a mild substitute for a drug addiction. We love the chemicals of emotion that rush through our veins when we see certain things that look dangerous. And it's why we pay big bucks to visit Disneyland and Magic Mountain. We need our emotional fix and we're willing to pay for it.

Grant
 
   
 
  Re: THE HUMAN MACHINE MERGER: ARE WE HEADED FOR THE MATRIX?
posted on 03/05/2003 3:35 PM by tharsaile
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 I agree, Thomas. BTW, the cable stuff comes from a comic book created by Geof Darrow.
[Newsweek, Dec 30 / Jan 6 double issue, page 84]
 
   
 
  Re: THE HUMAN MACHINE MERGER: ARE WE HEADED FOR THE MATRIX?
posted on 03/10/2003 5:05 PM by atkamano
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 After reading this article I am both terrified of, but anticipating the future that we will see within the next couple of decades. Although I am very closely following the improvements and breathroughs in technologies of our time, and for one would love to see the future described in the article, I am also terrified of the possibilities that humans as a whole could do wrong with it. A world where tiny robots have the ability to control our 5 senses have the ability to, in a both practical and ironical sense, shut us down. I am not going to discuss the possibilities that certain groups of extremists might do with these technologies, as we hear these scenarios from our government on a daily basis in the United States. (As of 9-11) This technology might also have the power to effectively destroy the social structure that we live by today. Here is one scenario; Suppose a company needs highly intelligent scientists to work on the anti-gravity airplane that it has started working on. The company, instead of hiring a graduate from MIT and paying him/her 200 thousand dollars annually might instead hire a bum off the streets, implement nanobots into the individual's brain, and upload the information necessary for him to begin his work. This would effectively lead to the collapse of Universities, as students will no longer need to go to college to recieve the education necessary to become a scientists, or a professional in any field for that matter. In a sense, everybody would be capable of getting the job done, but not enough jobs to go around. This would also give a ton of power to the Government, corporate businesses, and so on. I hope that this scenario will never become reality, but we can never stop ourselves from wondering what the possibilities of such technologies could lead us to in the future.
 
   
 
  The Eventuality of The Human Machine
posted on 05/23/2003 4:16 PM by SyneZ333
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 "Fear" in itself is a very ancient animalistic reaction to chemicals which govern our current bodies and brains. The potential of a world where nanobots invade and eventually replace our bloodstreams gives us the potential to alter our bodies from the inside out. So much more will be possible if we aren't haunted by these old and outdated emotions which no longer have any purpose. Our bodies could be rebuilt to live without water or food or even oxygen, and perhaps to be able to withstand being in space or even travel at great speeds.

What you fail to realize in your prediction of the collapse of our current way of life is that a completely new way of life will be born. Universities are a band-aid, a bridge trying to gap our animal instincts with our evolving human brains. They already do not have a purpose, as most people which attend school are only seeking to recieve a piece of paper which will give them a job in a cubicle and have their life fade into oblivion. The true essence of LEARNING has long been forgotten, save for a few places on earth like MIT.

A world where we no longer have to wait a decade to learn something so simple as medical science gives us the possibility, nay, the opportunity to leave behind this rotting flesh and bone and advance to true quantum way of life. Bums and cops and governments and corporations will become extinct and completely irrelevant. To me, this is an inspiring notion. Not a frightening one.
 
   
 
  Re: The Eventuality of The Human Machine
posted on 05/24/2003 9:00 PM by mindxx
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 We have to make predictions.



To guarantee safeties.





The wave of technological acceleration may be modified by individuals ating OUTSIDE the trend, and speeding it up.





The fundamental tennant that everything human can be classified beggars belief.



Implotion may well have occurred as a sine qua non of life or even atomic existance. the quark, the lepton, the plank, the elctron, upon whom the long night of A.I. mmust fall, are nothing to what infinite implotions may lie withing what is presently too small for science even to theorise about.



There is the vastness of the infinite, the density of imagination to-the power of N at any level that we must surley run into.





I couldn't care a quark whether you resurrect a matrixed copy of my mother with red hair, instead of green hair, may not seem much of a difference, but because of the issues of the butterfly effect, may make all the difference.


Ta Salutant!







 
   
 
  Re: THE HUMAN MACHINE MERGER: ARE WE HEADED FOR THE MATRIX?
posted on 05/26/2003 10:46 AM by Cybermynd
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 Actually there is very little to say that we aren't there already. What about those little gliches in reality? You've experienced them. Think about it.

I have this vision, looking down on an individual from a great height, seeing the world become indistinct just outside of his/her range of vision, a person isolated in 'reality' with gray fog all around.

If the matrix was clipped just outside your perception the programming and hardware support would be so much simpler. Remember, the thing in the corner of your eye right now just doesn't seem real unless you turn to look at it. Maybe the fog is closer than we think...
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carlo
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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2003, 06:39:12 PM »

I know one thing,  it hurts to be outside of the matrix.  Thanks for the red pill Crafty.

Sincerely,

Carlo
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Sun_Helmet
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Posts: 84


« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2003, 10:49:34 PM »

Jet Li made a smart choice in doing HERO instead. He would have fallen into the bg in the MATRIX-RL.

I've seen HERO and not only was it a better script but the production values equal and in many parts surpass the MATRIX. They did some scenes that bordered on the poetic... without the digital effects taking over.

I'd recommend checking out HERO when it comes to you on the big screen.

I didn't dislike the new MATRIX... however, I kept thinking that if one can propel their body through the heavens and disrupt the momemtum of bullets... how does he keep his punches from exiting the body cavity of his opponents?
 wink
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--Rafael--
"..awaken your consciousness of our past, already effaced from our memory, and to rectify what has been falsified and slandered."
Jose Rizal, from his 1889 essay, ' To The Filipinos '
lynda
Guest
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2003, 01:19:21 PM »

Just saw the Matrix. I very rarely have the time to see a movie in an actual theater, so when I plunked down my 9 clams, I had high hopes.

The special effects and the cine-fu were a cool green-screen indulgence if a bit over-long sometimes, love scene definitely too long and too Keanu's-naked-butt ( cheesy ), actual science fiction was self-important schlock ( rolleyes don't even get me started. Nonsense ran from physics to philosophy--even I picked up on  them and I'm not the brightest spark on the block.).

Anyone old enough to remember Aero bars? These choco bars were pumped full of air/holes so you got less chocolate, but the holes were marketed as the 'cool' part. I must confess I bought one, ate it, and felt strangely gratified despite knowing I was a chump.  shocked I got an echo of that same feeling after the Matrix. Maybe that sums up my feeling about the film, a visual Aero bar.

But man, to end the crapper with 'To be concluded'??? That just sucked the big donkey.

I hear the next one comes out in November. Balls. If it's another Dallas style, "Honey, last season was all a dream," I will puke.

I agree, Hero was an infinitely superior choice for Jet.

Dang, I'm really digging these emoticons!
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