Movie-Events: Science Fiction in a Reality Check

How much science is there in science fiction films? Neurotechnology, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence: We invite you to watch movies and series on these topics and to discuss with scientists. Five researchers of the Cluster of Excellence BrainLinks-BrainTools of the University of Freiburg rise to the challenge. In BrainLinks-BrainTools, scientists work on technical devices communicating with the brain in order to treat neurological diseases. To aim this goal, they also work on robots and learning algorithms. The research on neurotechnologies raises hopes and anxieties at the same time. These concerns and dreams are openly addressed in the science fiction genre.

On the evenings of our film event, we discuss the scientific and ethical questions that are raised by the movies shown. First a scientist comments on the film and we then split up in groups to discuss certain aspects and questions in more detail (with a snack). 


03/05/2016 Transcendence with PD Dr. Oliver Müller (Philosophy)
USA, 2014, OmU, Regie: Wally Pfister, 119 min
Kommunales Kino, 6pm-9pm

In this 2015 film, a scientist develops an advanced quantum computer that undergoes a form of singularity or “transcendence”. He is mortally wounded during a terrorist attack, but manages a to upload his mind to his computer just in the nick of time. The all powerful quantum computer quickly becomes a threat to his wife. We will discuss with PD Dr. Oliver Müller the ramifications and current relevance of these notions. How realistic is this transhumanist dream of immortality through technology and how can it be incorporated into society?

10/05/2016 Ex Machina with Prof. Dr. Wolfram Burgard (Robotics and Artificial Intelligence)
UK, 2014, OmU, Regie: Alex Garland, 108 min
Aka-Filmclub, KGII Hörsaal 2006, 6pm – 9pm.

In this 2015 Academy Award winning, sci-fi chamber play, a software developer tests an alluring female robot for its human likeness and finds himself positioned between the robot and its inventor. Prof. Dr. Wolfram Burgard will explain the likelihood of an android of those characteristics being developed. He will explain the current state of the art in robotics and the problems with the popular notion of artificial intelligence.

31/05/2016 The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
with Dr. Philipp Kellmeyer (Neurology)
USA, 2004, OmU, Regie: Michel Gondry, 104 min
Kommunales Kino, 6pm – 9pm.

What is a memory? How valuable is it, and can it be deliberately altered? Within a grippingly convoluted love story, this 2004 film plays with the possibility of mental contents being manipulated through neurotechnology. Dr. Philipp Kellmeyer will discuss whether memories could be altered today or in the future.

14/6/2016 Surrogates
with Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hofmann (Neurotechnology)
USA, 2009, OmU, Regie: Jonathan Mostow, 88 min
Kommunales Kino, 6pm – 9pm.

Bruce Willis stays at home and lets a thought-controlled robot take care of the “action”. With an unlikely plot, this 2009 film portrays a future where humans only continue to walk the streets as “surrogates” for safety purposes. This obviously turns out badly and Bruce Willis saves the world. In the age of remote-controlled drones, this technology follows a familiar premise. We will discuss with Dr. Ulrich Hofmann whether virtual reality technology, and mainly Brain-Machine-Interfacing, could bring us to this world: where does immersion start and how far does it go? Where are the limits set for us by this technology, and can we circumvent them? Is it worth it to conduct research with this purpose? Finally, we will all address the question: do we want such a world?

12/07/2016 Science Fiction in Series with Prof. Dr. Stefan Rotter



Mathilde Bessert-Nettelbeck

Sabrina Livanec

Tel: +49 (0)761 203-9544