Revisiting the film that made philosophy sexy and Keanu Reeves cool

Image: The Matrix / Warner Bros.

FYI: This post was first published on Gizmodo UK in 2019, but now the site no longer exists I’m republishing it here with permission from Future Publishing.

On Easter Weekend 1999, The Matrix debuted in US cinemas. Written and directed by the Wachowskis, The Matrix starred Keanu Reeves as Neo, Carrie Anne Moss as Trinity, Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus and Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith. It was a box office hit, received widespread critical acclaim and went on to win four Academy Awards.

Two decades later and the film…

Astronauts describe the sight of Earth from orbit — the overview effect — as life-altering. Can we recreate this experience on the ground?

Credit: Universal History Archive/Getty Images

It was my first space walk. I held onto the edge of the International Space Station and looked down at the Earth below me. It was breathtaking and beautiful. I felt an overwhelming sense of connection, and I began to cry.

This wasn’t a real trip to space — my motion sickness is far too bad for that, among other obstacles of going into orbit. Rather, it was a virtual reality trip to space called Home, created by VR studio REWIND and the BBC. …

How a robot’s eyes are developed could provide a shortcut around the uncanny valley

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Marty works at a grocery store and has a very specialized job scanning the aisles for spills and hazards. He’s one of 500 Martys at Stop and Shop and Giant Food stores across the U.S., a fleet of robot assistants that prompt questions from curious customers: Does each robot really cost $35,000? Why can’t it clean the hazards itself? And why does it have to have horrifying googly eyes on it?

In retail and the care sector and as electronic pets, robots are becoming part of everyday life, and because designers want us to feel comfortable and connected to them…

The policy aimed to protect children, but critics say the flawed project presented serious privacy risks

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When today’s politicians were at school, they may well have discovered pornography through a ragged magazine passed around the back of the class, or an illicit VHS tape at their friend’s house. Today, the scale, diversity, and immediacy of the porn available online makes those kind of formative encounters seem quaint. It’s a $97 billion global industry that accounts for about a third of all data transferred online; the website Pornhub served 5.5 billion hours of video during 2018.

Given the ubiquity of both the internet and porn, it is perhaps not surprising that our children are more exposed to…

VR experiences make some people — especially women — feel nauseous and ill. Here’s how the industry is trying to fix that.

Credit: Andrzej Wojcicki/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

I was just settling in to a feeling of invincibility, gliding through fluffy clouds wearing a colorful wingsuit. But it didn’t last long. A little over a minute later the nausea began, my head started to sweat and throb, and I panicked as my virtual reality headset steamed up.

I knew this feeling from amusement park rides and ferry crossings — it’s the effects of motion sickness. …

Touch adds intimacy to VR experiences — but how do we make it safe for everyone?

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I was in the living room of my childhood home, watching my mother as she stared out of the window, reeling from the news of her diagnosis. I could feel the carpet soft under my toes, and hear music in the background. “I wanted to save you from all the suffering,” Mom said as she turned and then embraced me with one of her never-let-you-go hugs before I said goodbye.

And then it all vanished, because this was just a virtual reality (VR) experience — one nothing like anything I’d experienced before. Draw Me Close is a VR-meets-theater performance that…

becca caddy

UK-based journalist specialising in tech, science & the future. Author of SCREEN TIME (out Jan 2021).

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