I watched the movie with my nephew. He requested for it. Right from the moment I saw its trailer in one of those movie dates I had, I knew it was going to be cool. I’m a creative working in the tech industry; inventions fascinate me. I thought that was it, that it’s the only thing that will make it appreciable for me. But I was surprised.
It will get a bit nerdy from here. Brace yourself if you have to.
The movie brought me back to my college days when I was working with my dissertation. I worked on a system that taught and implemented feed-forward artificial neural networks (ANN). The goal was way beyond providing a tutorial on ANN. I just had to include it because nobody was buying the idea that the system was capable of simulating human decision-making albeit imperfect. The real goal was to create an ANN implementation that can learn from decision trees of physicians so it can emulate medical diagnosis. (For a bit of background, I took up Computer Science under the Health Informatics track.) Yes, I was dreaming perhaps a little too big. But I believe there was nothing wrong with that.
I gave the project a code name. I called it project David out of my love for the movie A. I. Artificial Intelligence. I labored on it for months and encountered challenges that none of the people around me seemed to understand. The computer I was using would crash in the middle of the training process. I had to close ALL other applications before running the engine. The number of neurons were at times not enough to learn a particular decision tree that I had to reconfigure everything from scratch. Oftentimes the threshold set may not be achievable in a short period of training time once another training data set is added. The engine would get stuck in an oscillating state making it impossible for the implementation to learn from the data. These and many others.
I got the engine to work in the end although not flawless. For the final presentation, I presented a simulation of decision making when responding to a case of flu. Apparently, responses of physicians differ depending on severity and what the patient experiences. David, the ultimate goal, of course did not come to life. It was and is, too sophisticated for me to accomplish single handedly. I prepared the monotonic audio clip for his introduction though. He was supposed to wake up and say “Hi, I am David.” I wanted him to say it like HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Please pardon the little nerd in me for that.
I was never into comic books; they were not available to me when I was younger. The storyline probably got altered one way or another for the movie but I saw Baymax as the complete and super advanced form of David and that is why I enjoyed watching him. I cannot identify myself with Tadashi though. My goal was not as noble and admittedly shortsighted. I simply wanted a system that can emulate medical diagnosis and decision making. I appreciated Tadashi’s goal nevertheless. Who would not?
Big Hero 6 is doubtlessly a celebration of nerd culture. Apart from that, it has the right elements to keep the attention of children and adults alike. After a very long time I got to encounter again a film that leaves me wanting for more. Why not? The Big Hero 6 universe is a fantasy world for creatives in the tech industry. Nerds are widely accepted, inventing things, machines is a natural thing, materials are always available, institutions exist to support tech creatives, and collaboration between inventors is easy regardless of age, race, social status, and age! Yes, it is very far from reality but undeniably amazing.
I am currently stoked from watching movie. Why? The movie tickles the audience’s imagination. By giving the viewers a glimpse of a world where technology is used properly (at least for the most part of the film), the movie encourages people to be more creative and do something with what they know. And for the younger viewers, to dream big. Challenges are ever present in chasing one’s dream but today we won’t care. -aB
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