Sometimes it's hard being a geek, particularly a pedantic one. The fictional world doesn't handle technological practices well, for a variety of reasons. Fantasy is a critical part of any movie, but you also want plots to be believable.
If you're anything like us, you've had more than a few movies ruined by an absurd portrayal of what computers can do. This week, we count down our pet peeves in the movie world.
Now, some of you may be appalled that we’d even consider this, but I'm with Eats, Shoots and Leaves author Lynne Truss on this one: "Pedants of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your sense of proportion."
This doesn't mean Shaun and myself are the kind of rude movie goers who loudly tut at technical snafus, although I've had to bite my tongue occasionally at some truly egregious mistakes.
Such behaviour is akin to answering your mobile or noisily eating in a cinema; crimes that should incur an evening of tar and feathers if I had my way.
As ever, let us know if we’ve missed anything. Knowledge is always precious.
Honourable Mention: Sophisticated AI/robotics
Iain Thomson: Better minds than mine are confident we'll reach the Singularity within this generation; Intel was even discussing it at this year's IDF. There's still a very long road to go, but you wouldn't know it from the movies.
Early firms in the 1950s and 1960s made some understandable mistakes in the portrayal of artificial intelligence, but things haven't changed much. Iron Man's home computer system is a case in point. The National Security Agency would beg, borrow and steal for a system half as bright as that, and I suspect kill too.
The situation is even worse for robots. Ask pretty much anyone who studies robotics and they'll point out that bipeds have some significant downsides from a design standpoint, particularly for combat robots.
Bipeds are crippled by losing a leg, whereas my old cat Tripod used to show the local rodent population that three legs are nearly as good as four.
Shaun Nichols: It's not the AI by itself that's bad, nor is it the robots by themselves: it's the robot AI that really gets to me.
I guess you can't have a very good character if the robot is a just a pneumatic arm and some wheels, so there should be some artistic licence here. But it seems that most people have a pretty unrealistic expectation of AI.
I've mentioned this in past lists, but it really seems that a big hurdle for developing AI will be human psychology. There are plenty of things about human intelligence that we've yet to uncover, and if we don't know how something works it will be hard to replicate on a computer even when there is enough processing muscle.
Honourable Mention: Complete computer control
Shaun Nichols: Anyone who has been sued by the RIAA will have a bit of an issue with this one, and it's true that your IP address and other information can be collected. But the concept of MegaCorp Inc being able to instantly run a 'trace' on every connection as it's happening is a bit far-fetched.
Of course, that doesn't mean that administrators can't check logs, call the authorities, contact ISPs and figure out who was tampering with their systems if need be. And if you're on a company PC with surveillance software, your activities can be tracked and monitored in real time.
Iain Thomson: On this one, Shaun, I think you're wrong. There's a shocking amount of data that can be accessed on individuals; you just can't do it legally.
But, as we saw from the HP pretexting scandal and others, there are ways and means if you've got the money and the contacts.
As we're seeing with the News of the World case, most national newspaper journalists can get access to all kinds of official information, including police databases, with the right phone call and a small exchange of money, preferably in used notes.
That said, the speed with which this can be done is often exaggerated. Anyone who's had to deal with a credit card company knows that cancelling them on an impromptu basis is tough, even if you are the government department in charge of homeland security.
Sure, people get cut off by the government, but there's a fair few meetings and memos needed to cover everyone's backside.
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