Caprica star talks robots

31 Mar

If you’re a regular here, you know that I’m a big Battlestar Galactica fan, and that that fandom extends to its prequel series Caprica, which tells the story of how the killer Cylon robots came to be.

I’ve blogged a few times about how I became an instant fan of Caprica after watching the pilot about a year ago. I had just spoken to Franz Och, head of Google Translate, for my book and saw some amazing similarities between his work and how the artificial intelligence of the Caprica/Battlestar Galactica robots is put together. Both use a form of pattern recognition to make predictions - Google for language translation, and BSG robots for personalities.

So naturally, when I got an invitation to interview one of the stars of Caprica at last week’s Comic Con fan convention here in Toronto, I jumped at the opportunity. As an extra bonus, it turns out that Magda Apanowicz - who plays Lacy Rand on the show - is a fellow Polack Canadian.

A quick rundown of Caprica for the uninitiated. The show is set on the world of the same name, a planet that is very similar to Earth. Just like our world, it’s a fast-paced consumerist society where people love their gizmos and gadgets. One of the big gadget trends is the Holoband, a visor that lets users enter virtual or “V” worlds. The popular V worlds are either sex-fueled night clubs or violent action games.

The main character is a teenager named Zoe, who dies in the first episode in a terrorist attack on a train. Zoe happened to have been a computer whiz, though, and she created an artificially intelligent avatar of herself using the above Google-ish method, and it lives on in the V world. Zoe’s father Daniel is an ethically questionable industrialist who has built a fearsome robot. The machine shows no real promise on its own, but once Zoe’s AI gets into it, it suddenly comes alive - in more ways than one.

Only Lacy knows that Zoe’s AI is inside the robot, and it’s her job to help her escape - machine body and all - from Daniel’s lab. Here’s a trimmed down version of my interview with Magda, wherein she talks about a whole slew of topics, from some of the technological themes in Caprica, to robots and BSG, to the show’s ratings and future.

I also wrote up the interview for the CBC, so you can read that story and a little bit about why it’s a strong show here. I can’t help but like Caprica because it deals with sex, war and technology, and is generally bang on when it does so. Like Magda, I hope it’s given a proper chance to explore those themes, and others.

Speaking of robots, don’t forget to check out Day 3 of The Globe and Mail‘s 5-day excerpt series. Today, we get to the issue of sex robots…

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Posted by on March 31, 2010 in bsg, Google, robots, terrorism, war


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