Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

As a child, I had seen Blade Runner … in fact that was when I first came across the phrase Android. Yes, back then android did not mean an operating system for a smart phone.

The title of this blog post is a book by Phillip Dick, this book was adapted as the story behind Blade Runner. The movie on its own was also a fantastic experience, but if you read the book, and then watched the movie, its even better.

Blade Runner Then

blade-runner
Blade Runner the Original

The original Blade Runner tells you pretty much a story adapted from the book. A world where cybernetic human androids are used to do the tough work, and these android somehow not only find sentience, but also free will.

The story itself is about one such android hunter, or a Blade Runner, and how he starts seeing the point of view of the androids.

You have to realize that the time when this movie was shot, a lot of the effects that were shown on screen were difficult to pull off. Yet, here they are. The casting and the characters were spot on, with Harrison Ford, Sean Young and Rutger Hauer making their mark on screen.

Blade Runner Now

blade-runner-2049
Blade Runner 2049 – The Sequel

Blade Runner 2049, is a different story. It picks up from where the previous story left. It does star Harrison Ford, and to explain the age, it does cast him as an aged and retired Blade Runner.

Incidentally, this happens to be the third of Harrison Ford’s characters that has come back and has finally been put to rest (Indiana Jones passes the mantle to his son Le Bouf, Hans Solo is killed by his son, and Deckard finally gets to …). I won’t talk about the details, but the sequel is a good attempt to re-kindle the story. It pays homages to the previous flick in the right dosage, ditto to Ford, and yet … it tells a different story.

A story that makes you wonder. A story that sometimes you want to read as a book.

All the stories have a uniform theme … and all of them raise the question … what is life, and is a sentient being really alive? What do they think … and is an Artificial intelligence still a cognitive being.

Owning a Car or taking an Uber

Travis Kalanick, founder and CEO of Uber, built his cab-hailing startup with one ambitious goal: to stop people from buying cars. And while his ultimate goal could well be achieved globally, India would remain an exception. New research by Swiss investment bank UBS says that ride-on-demand (RoD) apps won’t stop Indians from buying their own…

via The simple reason why Uber and Ola can’t deter Indians from owning cars — Quartz

The investment bank UBS research might be saying that Indians still want a car, however, I still prefer taking an Uber ride over driving. Here’s why –

  • I can sit and read while the car is happily en route to my destination. Taking calls and thinking through things is a breeze.
  • Labor as well as Time & Material are saved
  • Dependency on cash is more or less removed. After demonetization, I have reduced my cash dependency completely, and I am loving it.
  • Whereas, its great to have a car and a driver handy to do on random jaunts like drop the kids to school, go for shopping, et al … however, an on the spot Uber is almost as good

Indians would treat the car as a status symbol, perhaps in the interiors they still do – however, with parking space coming at a premium (last I checked, a parking space in Nariman point as expensive as a 15 Lakh INR) taking an Uber is just more convenient.

Redefining Purpose

I do not call myself a Content Marketer. Heck, my language skills are not that great nor have I managed to keep honing them so as to write waxing lines of prose.

Most of the blogging I do on this blog, is always incidental in nature. Incidental in the sense, it’s almost always as a reaction to things. If this happens, and if I feel tempted to blog about it, I will post it.

However, this email newsletter by Avinash Kaushik is making me question the way I am writing this blog. Should there be a definitive overarching purpose to the blog … I think so!

What should the purpose be?

Let me think on this!

Constantinopolis

Constantinopolis
Constantinopolis

My interest in Historical titles was piqued by books such as Alexander, Mahabharata, Ramayana and Camelot. However, when I saw Constantinopolis by James D. Shipman, I knew I had to read through this book.

Settled between Europe and Turkey, Istanbul (the erstwhile Constantinople) is right between the crusaders of Europe and the Ottoman army. The tale of Constantinople and its eventual fall at the hands of the Ottoman empire makes for an interesting story.

The Prelude to Constantinopolis

The author does a good job of explaining the history behind the fall of Constantinople. The reason behind Mehmet’s (the then Ottoman emperor) hunger for taking on Constantinople. The reason behind why the Vatican sent such a meagre force to help out the besieged city. The explanation of King Constantinople and the daily frustrations he faced in holding the Ottoman empire at bay.

The Siege

People know of the Trojan War because of the horse, the malware and the movie. However, this tale bellies the same upheavals (if not more), the entire siege had both the sides teetering on the brink of destruction and coming back up to save the day to fight again.king

Sieges take time and well defended cities take months to fall. Likewise even this city which had some of the most formidable defenses took 6 months to finally fall in the hands of the Ottoman Turks. It’s not as if the Ottoman war machine was running in perfect synchronization.

They had their own set of problems, and the politicking within the large empire was subtle and this victory ensured that Mehmet become the all powerful emperor that he was destined to be, surpassing the feats of his father who was loved (and feared) by all his people.

Not just a Story, but History

All in all, the book is not just a tale, but also tells us the truth behind the events that led to the great city’s fall, and the subsequent rise in the Ottoman empire’s impact on Eurasian trade. If you love historical tales, do not forget to pick up this book!