You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts
is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials
, heartbreaking eulogies
, and agonizing run-ins with fascists
) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting
science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed
2006 novel Blindsight [full text]
-- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room
, the Philosophical Zombie
, Chernoff faces
, and the myriad quirks and blind spots
that haunt the human mind.
's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew
, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism
), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section
, tomorrow will see the release of
Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website]
, the long-delayed
"sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Aug 25, 2014 -
In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these.
The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth
-- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect,"
a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger
. More: Table of Contents
- Publishing history
- Technical discussion
- Buy a paperback copy
- Podcast interview
- Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace"
- possible sequel discussion
posted by Rhaomi
on Dec 27, 2011 -
Dr James Anderson, from the University of Reading's computer science department, claims to have defined what it means to divide by zero. It's so simple, he claims, that he's even taught it to high school students
[via Digg]. You just have to work with a new number he calls Nullity
(RealPlayer video). According to Anderson's site The Book of Paragon
, the creation, innovation, or discovery of nullity is a step toward describing a "perspective simplex, or perspex [ . . . ] a simple physical thing that is both a mind and a body." Anderson claims that Nullity permits the definition of transreal arithmetic
(pdf), a "total arithmetic . . . with no arithmetical exceptions," thus removing what the fictional dialogue No Zombies, Only Feelies?
identifies as the "homunculus problem" in mathematics: the need for human intervention to sort out "corner cases" which are not defined.
posted by treepour
on Dec 7, 2006 -
The Ethics of Deep Self-Modification.
What will happen when machines gain the ability to modify their own psychology? Do we have a responsibility to step in? What happens when we have the ability to modify ourselves
? Philosopher Peter Suber
has dedicated himself to issues of self-modification... not just in psychology, but also in constitutional law
. Small wonder that this is the guy who invented Nomic
. His site is littered with great stuff; he now is primarily involved with the open access movement. Check out his open access primer
posted by painquale
on Jan 3, 2005 -
Another year, another Chat.
This year's Loebner Prize
competition will be held next week in Atlanta, GA (at SciTrek and GSU)
. The yearly contest is a modified "Turing test" (seminal paper here)
where people try to guess whether they're chatting with computers or with people.
There are some resources for rolling your own
, but before you begin, think about these two sentences and you'll see what a serious problem natural language is: "We gave the monkeys the bananas because they were hungry
" and "We gave the monkeys the bananas because they were ripe
" (nod to this guy for the example)
. You have to know a lot about the world and the things in it to disambiguate the "they"
in those sentences.
posted by zpousman
on Sep 20, 2002 -