Going Broad with Terminator Salvation: Can McG Teach Us Something about Artificial Intelligence or Cyborgs?
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
So I scanned the reviews for director McG's Terminator Salvation at the Washington Post, New York Times, and New York Magazine, and it turns out not unexpectedly that in the words of my hometown Buffalo News' critic Jeff Simon that the film "is a remarkable looking piece of work. And you'll find gobs and gobs of action in it at least half of the time. Bullets fly, so do people. Things blow up and, yes the people do, too."
But reading the reviews left me thinking: There's so much visual, so much wider audience engagement with a film like Terminator Salvation, that the underlying themes of artificial intelligence and cyborgs stand as a terrific hook to reach wider audiences on the science and ethics related to these topics.
Commissioning "science of _____" film reviews might be one way to accomplish this. The linked mainstream reviews above touch on these dimensions of the film, in fact they invite reader curiosity, but they understandably don't provide much popular science context.
So here's an idea I am throwing out there for the amazing new Science & Entertainment Exchange initiative launched by the National Academies:
With major films that include themes of science and technology, why not produce online and even syndicate, 1,000-2,000 word accessible and interesting "science reviews" of the film. In these reviews, there would be some countering or debunking (but not too much) of possible errors in the science, but far more importantly, the review would be a platform and launching pad for sparking interest among readers in the featured scientific field.
Consider the movie reviews a trusted "science information valet," providing context but then hyperlinking to a wealth of other multi-media and science content rich information available online.
New research links urban planning and political polarization.
- Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
- Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
- People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
- Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
- What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
- Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
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