Oct 312009

Well the story is fine, the cinematography as good as you would expect from a large budget show (although there’s a little too much digital noise in some of the darker scenes), the sound excellent. What’s not to like ?

The formatting of the BD disks themselves of course. Whilst the actual content is pretty good, the way that it has been put together sucks. You can tell those putting it together tried pretty hard to make the blueray experience feature filled, but they forgot the one real reason why people buy boxed sets. They buy them to watch the show.

And too much gets in the way of that :-

  • There’s an especially irritating piracy warning. If I dare to pirate the disks, the FBI will apparently use extraordinary rendition to kidnap me from the UK and fine me $250,000! If there is anything more irritating than those pointless anti-piracy messages, then it is an anti-piracy message that has not been “localised” – people get more than a little annoyed by US-orientated messages.
  • We get an annoying little message from the director about how good the disks are. This would be bad enough if it only appeared without our requesting it once, but it seems to show up every time you change the disc for the next one!
  • Similarly when you start playing an episode on a new disc, you get an annoying pop-up warning you that certain features will only work if you have a recent blueray player. It is the wrong place! If certain features won’t work it will be noticeable more in the menu than in the playback!
Oct 312009

Just been watching a certain episode of Battlestar Galactica involving the attempted rape of a prisoner. A machine prisoner – a “toaster”, so that’s alright isn’t it ?

Well perhaps not.

Considering the morality of a bunch of mythical rapists in a TV programme set in a mythical universe with technology that is impossible at our current understanding of science is kind of kinky, but it does cover something that we will have to consider sooner or later. Quite possibly sooner than we think.

Are people making robotic sex toys ? Quite possibly. How “intelligent” are these possible robots? Not intelligent at all according to the current state of the art. But if machine intelligence is possible (in the future), will someone ever make an intelligent sex toy ? Almost certainly.


At what point do we start to consider whether it is right to use an intelligent sex toy that has decided it doesn’t want to ? Before it is possible, or after it has happened ? I would say we need to consider such things now before they happen.

To me it is perfectly plain that anything that is sufficiently intelligent to understand what is happening and to express a wish that it not take place, is entitled to have their wishes respected. Or to put it another way, anyone who is capable of ‘raping’ a machine is not the kind of person many would feel safe around.

We are used to the idea that we need to respect the rights of other humans and that anyone that does not is sick in some way. But are those rights given because the subject is human or because they are sapient (by which I mean intelligent to the level of humans) ? Not an easy question to answer because almost by definition, the terms are current interchangeable. But that may not always be the case.

At present, either an intelligent machine or an intelligent alien presumably has no rights on this planet – it is perfectly legal to rob, kill, or rape them. This is analogous to the situation in the past where some people were under the impression that some segments of the human race were less deserving of rights than others. Whilst denying non-human sapients rights is not racist, it still feels wrong.

Of course such an entity would have to respect our rights in addition to us respecting their rights. Perhaps that should be the condition of full sapient rights – the ability to respect the rights of others.

I say full sapient rights because there are another category of rights that we need to consider and be aware of – sentient rights. For more information on this, see the very worthwhile Great Ape Project.