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Unmanned interstellar tv documentary
catman
post May 29 2008, 02:01 PM
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A few years ago I saw a great great show that theorized an unmanned interstellar trip to the nearest star.

A probe was sent there with images sent back of the local ecosystems. The show creators detailed a systems of predators and prey that might/could evolve. It was absolutely amazing the animals, flora/fauna if they could be called such, that was depicted.

Has anyone seen this show and if so could they give me a name so I can search for a DVD. I don't even know what cable channel produced the show.

alan

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ustrax
post May 29 2008, 02:38 PM
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Was this it?


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Greg Hullender
post May 29 2008, 03:55 PM
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I saw this one too: "Alien Planet" on the Discovery Channel. Mothership Von Braun. Three lander/balloons named Ike, Leo, and Balboa.

However, I didn't like it much. Partly because I thought the alien life forms were ridiculous, but mainly because they took such wild risks with their landers and ended up losing all three in short order.

--Greg
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nprev
post May 30 2008, 01:16 AM
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Catman, you can also buy the DVD at a Discovery store, at least if you're in the US; not sure if they have stores in other countries or not.

I actually enjoyed it very much because the alien life was, well, alien (and yes, I confess: I own the DVD.)

Frankly, I also thought that the probes' lack of longevity was fairly realistic as well; a complex environment like that with all kinds of threats would presumably be very difficult for an AI to cope with. Hell, odds are that a lot of astronauts would even be meat in short order in a place like that.


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Stephen
post May 30 2008, 09:40 AM
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QUOTE (nprev @ May 30 2008, 11:16 AM) *
Frankly, I also thought that the probes' lack of longevity was fairly realistic as well; a complex environment like that with all kinds of threats would presumably be very difficult for an AI to cope with. Hell, odds are that a lot of astronauts would even be meat in short order in a place like that.

But then would a human being have ventured into "a place like that" in the first place?

That aside, you seem to be suggesting an AI would find it more difficult to cope with such a situations than a human being. (Albeit you try to cover your bases with that "hell".)

Why?

The very nature of interstellar exploration means than any AI which does go will be completely on its own and therefore have to rely on its own ingenuity and resourcefulness to achieve its mission. An AI which could not cope with the unexpected at least as well as if not better than a human being would probably be unable to achieve its mission, or at least its full mission. Given that the AI would be a critical component of such a mission, that in turn would seem to amount to burdening the mission with what would be in effect a "defective" technology. Such a mission would have been better delayed until AI technology was more advanced.

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Stephen
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nprev
post May 30 2008, 11:26 AM
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Well, hell, Steve; it was just a movie! tongue.gif


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Greg Hullender
post May 30 2008, 04:25 PM
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I did like the idea of a powerful orbiter assisted by a small set of balloons which, in turn, could deploy a large number of roving sensors. I remember thinking the balloons should have stayed in the stratosphere for at least a few months until they had a much better idea what conditions on the surface were really like.

I suppose I couldn't get past the thought that such a mission might have taken 100 years to get there, so it shocked me that they managed to lose ALL the surface probes in just a couple of months. Seemed to me you'd have at least wanted to make the things last a decade or more.

But, as you say, it was only a movie. :-)

--Greg
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dvandorn
post May 30 2008, 05:30 PM
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Exactly -- there is a difference between making documentaries (fictional or otherwise) and making dramatic presentations.

Drama requires, well -- drama. There must be a hero and an antagonist, at least in structure. There must be danger, and resolution.

Telling the story of a mission where the probes stay well away from danger and learn less would be, well... boring. From the point of view of a dramatist, anyway.

Why do you think the writers of Apollo 13 introduced all sorts of antagonism amongst the crew that never, ever occurred? Because they wanted to heighten the drama. Now, as far as I'm concerned, some stories, like those of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, really don't need to have their tension and drama heightened artificially, as is demonstrated by the incredibly well-done writing on the HBO mini-series "From the Earth to the Moon." However, it takes a real tour-de-force to bring out the subtle drama in real-life events. You can't expect your run-of-the-mill Discovery Channel knock-off to put that much effort into the script -- they rely solely on flashy special effects to satisfy their niche audience.

Sigh.

-the other Doug


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