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 fasciitis) 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. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
Friendship is Optimal is not a "My Little Pony" fanfic, but a SF story that starts with a procedurally-generated MLP MMO, and crescendos to what could very well be the Best Possible Outcome if self-optimizing algorithms are given /almost/ the right goals. Some readers are horrified by the implications; some want to move into "Equestria Online" anyway. Whichever camp you fall in, you'll never forget the phrase "satisfy human values through friendship and ponies".
On November 22, 2011, TEDxBrussels held an all day event whose theme was: "A Day in the Deep Future." Speakers were asked to try and contemplate what life will be like for mankind in 50 years. Overview. [more inside]
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
With everything rolling towards the abyss, our only hope for a bright future seems to be the Singularity, a technological transformation of what it means to be human. But in a talk for TEDx Brussels, science fiction and horror writer John Shirley argues that there are really two Singularities — and yes, everything will be terrible in the short term. So why is he optimistic about the future of the human race? Read on.
"The constant undertone of the singing formed the theme that bound her mind together, no matter how many different things she might do at one time."
"The Gentle Seduction," by Marc Stiegler. A non-techie lives before, through, and after the Singularity. (via Reddit) [more inside]
The current issue of IEEE Spectrum devotes itself to the sci-fi genre du jour, the Singularity. Neuroscientists such as Christof Koch and David Alder talk about our understanding of the brain and quantum computing, John Horgan argues that it's just too difficult to recreate consciousness in a computer any time soon. Robin Hanson writes on the Economics of the Singularity, and of course, Vernor Vinge - the person who originally postulated the Singularity - tells us how to spot its approach. [more inside]
Vernor Vinge: Mathematician, computer scientist and science fiction visionary worthy of Arthur C Clarke's mantle, Vinge is most famous for popularising the idea of the singularity, where technology advances so quickly that humans cannot participate, but he's also credited with writing one of the first stories about cyberspace, True Names, back in 1981. More recently, he's been exploring how augmented reality and belief circles will change the way we live in his latest novel Rainbows End - which he put online, completely for free.
Singularity, The. A black hole in the Extropian worldview whose gravity is so intense that no light can be shed on what lies beyond it. "Popular Science" talks about The Singularity, and asks "Is Science Fiction about to go blind?" Also, see previously, here and here.