1980s and 1990s sci-fi movies are lot less fictional than we thought

Ever since 1968’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” science-fiction films and books have carried a similar theme: computers gaining enough artificial intelligence to outsmart human beings.

For the majority of people who don’t live in the computing world, the idea of machines overtaking humans has always been an entertaining premise that’s only somewhat haunting. Because while it seems plausible, we don’t know enough about technology to ever believe it possible.

In other words, we have a hard time processing a threat that our brain doesn’t fully understand.

It’s a reason why few people legitimately fear the scientific dangers presented by global warming. In general, we know that climate change is happening, and it’s bad, but we don’t know why, and therefore we do little to stop it besides complaining about it on social media.

Take the 1983 film “WarGames” starring a young Matthew Broderick. In the film, he operates an oversized computer to discover a backdoor into the U.S. government’s defense systems. Simply by pressing a few buttons — which he thinks are harmless — he accidentally sets our computer systems onto an unstoppable path towards nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

That was 34 years ago.

The reason why this has been such a reoccurring topic in science fiction is because it was only a matter of time.

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Look how far we’ve come technologically since then. Now in the 21st century, the new arena for warfare is online.

And more people should be afraid. Or at least care.

Russian interference in our elections was not simply a hack, or an inconvenience, or “fake news” — it was an attack. We were attacked by a hostile foreign nation.

And last week, more than 150 countries were victimized by a “ransomware” attack that is believed to have been orchestrated by North Korea.

And this time, they ain’t just trying to stop a movie.

To avoid getting too technical, ransomware is basically a hack that scrambles your files with encryption, and then demands you pay a ransom to unlock the encryption — aided by the anonymity of Bitcoin.

The attack, performed with software by the name WannaCry, may have cost lives. Among the victims was the servers for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, which relies on IT systems to perform urgent, life-saving operations.

WannaCry targeted Microsoft, taking advantage of a vulnerability that had recently been leaked by a hacker group in April after it obtained hacking tools compiled by the National Security Agency. Before that, Microsoft had released a software upgrade fixing the issue, which most people did not utilize. And now they’re screwed.

This is the era we live in. Everything is automated. And around the clock, hackers are trying to infiltrate these computers. Yes, groups are working equally as hard to safeguard computers simultaneously, but it’s an endless cycle. The fabrics of our world now lie within computer codes and operating systems.

And those who still naively believe that computers aren’t capable of bringing about our downfall, well, I suggest you pop an old Matthew Broderick flick into your VCR.

Then after you’ve watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, watch WarGames.

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What I missed while I was in West Virginia

Well, I spent the last week road tripping to West Virginia on business, and I came back to find that the United States is the closest it’s been to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis more than five decades ago.

For the record, it was my first time in West Virginia, and while I try hard not to stereotype, everybody there looked exactly like I expected them to. Lots of flannel shirts and trucker hats. The only disappointment was that people weren’t walking down the streets wearing coal miner uniforms.

But I can safely say that I didn’t meet a single unkind person in my brief time in the state. The more I travel south, the more I can confirm that southern hospitality is indeed a real thing.

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They don’t call West Virginia the Mountain State for nothing

Now I can cross West Virginia off my travel bucket list … said no one ever.

And while being surrounded my mountains affords you a certain feeling of detachment that lets you distance yourself from the rest of the world, I did still try to keep up with the news. Turns out a lot happened while I was away.

As we all know, North Korea is a rogue nation that is recklessly building up its nuclear arsenal. Their government is a true dictatorship to the core, with a history of starving and imprisoning its people for even the tamest of offenses. Simple accommodations like electricity and television in homes are scarce, bordering on nonexistent.

And led by such an unstable figure such as 33-year-old Kim Jong-un, the situation obviously requires a great deal of subtlety and diplomacy to avoid setting off a domino effect that ends with nuclear catastrophe.

So naturally, Donald Trump is the perfect man for the job! Subtlety and diplomacy just happen to be his strong points.

North Korean officials have publicly stated that any threats to their nation would be met with a nuclear strike. They may be bluffing. But that’s not something I want to find out, and it’s hard to feel comfortable when we have nearly as unpredictable of a leader making our decisions.

Kim Jong-un

Sound bites like “the era of strategic patience is over” may sound good on TV, but could realistically have devastating effects. Pretending you’re sending a naval armada may look tough, but in reality, it’s the nuclear equivalent of lighting a match in a tinderbox.

I always figured that one day this blog would end because I became too busy or too lazy, and not because of nuclear extinction. So we’ll see.

What else happened last week? Well, Arkansas, still embattled in legal wrangling over their 10-day execution fest, was able to go through with one execution of African-American prisoner and convicted murderer Ledell Lee, after the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to let it happen. A double execution is also planned for Monday night.

Which means that Neil Gorsuch’s first decision as a Supreme Court Justice was to kill a black man.

Sounds about right.

But by far the biggest news that happened over the last several days is the French French electionspresidential election. The nation picked its top two candidates on Sunday, choosing centrist Emmanuel Macron and right-wing sensationalist and known Muslim hater Marine La Pen, who will now compete in a runoff next month in what is set to be a major turning point in the history of Europe.

Political experts foresaw this as a watershed election not only for France, but the entire continent and the future of the European Union. And now, the French people have a choice to do what the United Kingdom and United States failed to do – reject populism and xenophobia and join together behind a more unifying force.

This upcoming vote deserves a lot more attention, and I’ll devote a post to it in the near future in lieu of making this one too much of a currents event overload.

Bearing that in mind, I fortunately was unable to even touch on Bill O’Reilly!

Pun absolutely and horribly intended.

Forget gun control, what about hydrogen bomb control!

One thing that we have learned in the last few years is that America is simply incapable of having a serious, productive conversation about guns.

Any mere suggestion of gun control is immediately squashed by right wing supporters, hawkish lobbyists and any members of the Republican caucus.

Democrats and liberals, meanwhile, can’t wrap their head around the fact that so many people people fail to grasp the concept that less guns equals less gun violence.

Obama Gun Control.jpgHonestly, it’s just annoying and frustrating to talk about. And that was evident in the words and body language of our president on Tuesday morning, when, while announcing his Executive Order to close loopholes that enable the foregoing of background checks for certain gun purchasers, he began to cry.

And if I was the man who was in charge of a country that has started to resemble the Old West in terms of gun violence, I might cry too.

So while this debate of how to regulate guns in America rages on, perhaps we can agree on one other weapon that needs to be immediately addressed.

The hydrogen bomb.

North Korea raised international eyebrows on Wednesday when they said they detonated their first hydrogen bomb.

The U.S. has already disputed the claim, instead believing it was of the atomic variety. Which is still pretty freaking scary.

Although, on the surface, a hydrogen bomb doesn’t sound too intimidating. All most people know about hydrogen is that two atoms combine with oxygen to make water. That’s the first five minutes of high school chemistry class, yo.

Well, it turns out when scientists get their hand on the element, they can create a thermonuclear reaction that is about 500 times more powerful than an atomic bomb. Only five countries are known to have hydrogen weapons: U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China.

So even if North Korea hasn’t yet developed the world’s most powerful Hydrogen bombbomb, they’re clearly trying to.

I think that all parties, Democrat or Republican, left or right, gun opponent or supporter, can agree — let’s do everything we freaking can to make this sure this unpredictable, uncivilized nation does not get its hands anywhere near a hydrogen bomb. Even the buffoons at the National Rifle Association can’t disagree.

Because if North Korea H-bombs us, then there won’t be any guns left to argue over.

Additionally, not everyone would get to binge watch Making a Murderer on Netflix, which apparently is becoming the most “need to watch” show this side of Breaking Bad and True Detective.

Who knows, though. If Americans can actually agree to discuss safety regarding one deadly weapon, maybe it can set the groundwork for a future discussion about guns.

We’re probably all more likely to perish in a hydrogen explosion before that ever happens.