Last week in cyberpunk we continued our trudge into the cyberpunk future bringing to life many of the things that science fiction writers warned us were coming. Cyberpunk has become a play-book. We still have fantastic fiction to make us aware of these happenings and to warn us about a post-human future to come.
Internet Privacy is Under Siege
This week the internet has come under siege. The final nails were driven into the coffin of the FCC’s privacy protections when President Trump signed the FFC repeal of said protections on Monday, April 3rd. The new head of the FCC, Ajit Pai, has moved to remove the merger condition that would have enforced competition between ISPs from the conditions being applied to the Charter acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Coupled with the FCC’s assurance that ISPs can sell our browsing histories to marketers, a tremendous amount of power is being laid at the feet of these digital behemoths. If that were not enough, Unesco, or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is supporting the installation of digital rights management (DRM) into the HTML standard. This has not gone without protest from people like Tim Berners-Lee, Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, who has published an open letter to Unesco in opposition to this decision. DRM on the internet would impose the same kinds of restrictions on the entire Internet that currently exist for DVDs and CDs, an idea that erodes the very idea of a free internet. This is not the only opposition to the curtailment of freedoms online, however, Twitter is suing the US government over demands that they hand over identifying information pertaining to the Federal employees behind the Twitter account @ALT_uscis. This account was one of dozens of accounts run by US agencies that challenged Trump’s views on climate change, immigration, and other topics. Twitter has filed its lawsuit under the protections of the First Amendment, unsurprisingly.
The Rise of ICE (Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics)
Darktrace‘s is a new AI, Antigena, functions as a sort of antibody for the internet through the use of machine learning. Antigena’s recent success exposing an employee, who was disgruntled about Brexit, who was about to commit a Wikileaks-style leak, with no prior history of doing so, has garnered the attention of security experts. Antigena is designed to surveil corporate systems for suspicious behavior by using machine learning to determine what is normal employee behavior and then flagging anything that doesn’t fit that model for review. Once Antigena has been active on a system for a month, it has 80% of the data it needs to accurate and this accuracy peaks after a year. At the moment, Darktrace’s AI is only in beta on a few systems, but it has already proven itself effective. Dave Palmer, DarkTrace’s director of technology, implies that the “human confidence mode” on Antigena that allows humans to screen the systems results before deciding on a course of action, actually weakens the system against hackers and thus implies that Antigena would be more effective given autonomy to react to hacking attempts. Is this beginning of ICE as imagined by William Gibson in the Sprawl universe, and when will it turn into Black ICE?
Is CD Projekt Red Trademarking the Word Cyberpunk?
“The term cyberpunk is in the public domain, and NO ONE has the right to trademark Cyberpunk™ the comic book, or Cyberpunk™ the card game, or Cyberpunk™ the crappy derivative franchised YA novel series.”
CD Projekt Red said in response to criticism via Twitter,
“We want to protect our hard work and we don’t plan on using the trademark offensively.”
“It’s a self-defense measure only.”
Of course for a trademark to function, it is the responsibility of the company to “defend” the trademark by suing other companies that use it. Otherwise, they lose the trademark. The trademark does only affect the video game industry, but it could have a chilling effect that would prevent games like VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action from being released under that title. We understand why CD Projekt Red would feel that they need to protect the word ‘cyberpunk’ but considering the term’s widespread usage since the 80s, especially in titles, we find this move very troubling and hope it doesn’t stand up to legal scrutiny.
Facial Mapping Technology Amazes
We’ve seen demonstrations of the power of facial mapping before, but nothing has been quite as impactful in showing the potential of this technology that the short music collaboration from AYABAMBI, Ishikawa Watanabe Lab and Nobumichi Asai (WOW). The result is INORI (Prayer), a visual feast with some powerful themes. Check it out below.
The Fifth Element
In the tradition of re-screening previous movies in franchises just before the release of a new installment, The Fifth Element will be hitting theaters for a limited release with a 4K restoration. Although The Fifth Element is not directly related to the upcoming Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, both films are directed by Luc Besson, and both films were directly influenced by French comics. The Fifth Element screenings will be on May 14th and 17th in limited theaters, tickets are available here. The subsequent release of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is scheduled for release on July 21st, 2017.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, speaking with Fandango, announced that he is looking forward to being involved with another installment in the Terminator franchise. He sounds convinced that another installment will be coming down the pipes soon with James Cameron producing,
“Just because Paramount doesn’t want to pick up the Terminator franchise, you have 15 other studios willing to do it — that doesn’t mean the Terminator franchise is finished, right? It just means they are on their way to negotiate with another studio, but I can’t give you the details of that. They’ll announce that. But, yes, the Terminator franchise is never finished. And remember that after 2018, James Cameron is getting it back, and then it will continue on!”
We’re personally excited for another installment of Terminator here at Neon Dystopia.
Ghost in the Shell
Unsurprisingly, Ghost in the Shell has been in the news a lot this week.
First, Ghost in the Shell opened to an abysmal $19 million dollars for its first weekend. Kyle Davies, the executive producer, now says he blames the “white-washing controversy” for the movie’s failure. It might have helped if the movie had been stronger on its own too.
Second, Kondasha and Production I.G. have announced the production of a new Ghost in the Shell anime series. Details are scarce at this point, but Kenji Kamiyama (Stand Alone Complex), Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed) are involved.
Third, the original 1995 Ghost in the Shell soundtrack is being released on vinyl for the first time.
Fourth, Ash Thorpe (a well-known cyberpunk artist) has released a reel of his concept art for the new Ghost in the Shell that brought the holograms, one of the best parts of the film, to life.
On April 6th, BBC America ran a commercial with our first look at footage from Orphan Black‘s fifth and final season. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about seeing two characters dressed for a wedding. Orphan Black‘s fifth season will be premiering on June 10th, 2017 on BBC America at 10/9c.
— Orphan Black (@OrphanBlack) April 6, 2017
Katee Sackoff and Lance Henrikson have joined the cast of the new upcoming series The Machine based on the movie of the same name. Sackoff, best known for her role in Battlestar Galactica, is voicing a computer that goes by the name of Nadia. Henrikson, who is best known for his role in Aliens, will be voicing a computer named Stanley. A third star, Jaeden Bettencourt, will be voicing a third computer by the name of Kazimir. The series is being produced and written by Caradog James, who wrote and produced the original film (we reviewed it when it came out), and he will directing the pilot episode.
Cyberpunk Video Games
Give Me Deus Ex, aslo known as GMDX, has released their public beta for a beautifully graphically enhanced version of the original Deus Ex. Their attention to detail is impressive and it really looks like it faithful to the original atmosphere. You can sign-up for the beta here and check out some excellent scene by scene comparisons.
Did we miss anything? Let us know down in the comments below or on social media!