Dec 29, 2016

Sci-fi, dial-up internet, biased bots, and other geekery

As bots and AI are infiltrating our lives, geekery is not the same anymore. Some geekery stories we loved writing this year.

BYShrabonti Bagchi

Now that bots and artificial intelligence (AI) are infiltrating our lives every which way and aren’t quite the stuff of some nebulous future, geekery is not the same anymore. You are dealing with things that are real and happening now, and speculation just isn’t as much fun.
On the other hand, it’s a fallacious idea that geekery is only about robots and AI. Geeks, as somebody explained to me pretty succinctly this year, are people who are interested in the “underpinnings of things”; people who keep going deeper and deeper into topics that interest them. By that definition, geekery is vast — and everyone from our science-fiction columnist Gautham Shenoy to author-filmmaker Satyajit Ray is a geek.
Some geekery stories we loved writing this year:
1. The history of one of India’s oldest mailing lists, and how it shaped our internet culture.

Silk, India’s oldest general-interest mailing list, has been its Geek Central for 18 years

2. The first edition of New Worlds Weekly, a weekly sci-fi column that we are immensely proud of.

The dreams our stuff is made of

3. As AI becomes more integrated into our lives, how will it be influenced by us and influence us? What will be the impact on morality, culture and society as a whole?

Biased bots: Artificial Intelligence will mirror human prejudices

4. “As you watch Mr. Robot, two conflicting thoughts clash together in your head, like parallel subroutines gone rogue, creating a paralyzing horror deep in your spine.”

Mr. Robot is disturbing because its dark dystopia is pretty close to our reality

5. It is a tragedy that most Indians think of Satyajit Ray almost exclusively as the serious filmmaker who made complex award-winning cinema about poor villagers and conflicted women. They couldn’t be more wrong.

The genius of Satyajit Ray’s little-known geekery

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Shrabonti Bagchi is a writer of FactorDaily.