Sunday, March 6, 2011

Singularity Part 2

“(Writing) is very much just like exploring. Just like going on a walk through the woods, except you’re in your own brain. Don’t worry about being a writer or being a novelist, just uh, take a walk in your brain, or a bike ride in your brain. But, don’t drive, because that’s bad for the environment.” - Hank Green, whose most unpublished novel is known across much of Nerdfighteria as "The Bacon Book." And from what he's posted of it, it's not bad.

Towards the end of my last post on Singularity, which is filed under February if you weren't around for it, I mentioned that my dad is thinking of writing a novel regarding the concept.

Earlier this afternoon, he bounced some plot ideas off of me. I would love to share them with you, because they're very, very clever, but I think he's really going to go through with it, and the surprise is kind of important.
Think Inception, except minus dreams and plus artificial intelligence. (I can't get away from that movie. It's everywhere. But it's awesome, so that's okay.)

Here is his current Facebook status: "I don't have writer's block. I have really busy life with obligations block, but I'm going to get started with a plot outline for a novel I've been thinking about, and see how far I get. Getting thoughts more organized in a systematic way is never a bad thing. That's the first line of my manifesto."

And here is my comment:  "‎"People often tell me that they hope to write some day when they’re not so busy. My response? Don’t wait. That day will never come. We are always too busy to write. No book has ever been written because the author had spare time to write it." - Rick Riordan, father of two, who wrote the Percy Jackson series while still working as an English teacher"

But everyone hates a post that says "great things are afoot, but you can't know," so I'll tell you about some of the broader concepts we touched upon over the course of our conversation.

He thinks that once computers can self-evolve, they'll overtake us at an inconceivably huge rate, and they will simply cease to care about us. They won't blow us up like in Terminator because we won't be viewed as a threat.
I, of course, found it pertinent to make another sci-fi reference (you'll love this, Zaphodora) and said: "But what if they want to make an interstellar bypass and the Earth just happens to be in the way?"
He says that that's one of the major issues the researchers are working on. If the computers are changing themselves, how are we to know that they'll continue to believe anything we tell them? I guess most parents ask that about their kids as well, but kids are so much less objective in regards to their upbringing that it hasn't really needed to be considered as closely before.
He's been listening to AI lectures like mad for the past two weeks or so. There's a major summit every year to discuss all of these things, and he really admires the thousand-or-so people involved.

That's one of the reasons he wants to write this book: because he can't actually go work on it himself, but if he writes a brilliant-enough novel that's true to the current predictions and research, they might like him. And he wants to be liked by all the cool kids at school. 

I'm...afraid his is going to be better than mine, actually. He doesn't have much experience with writing fiction (although he's a great oral storyteller), but he's fantastic at organizing ideas and phrasing them well. 
However, I intend to help him with it as much as he wants me to, so perhaps I can wrangle a percentage of the royalties out of him in a non-I'm-paying-for-your-tuition sort of way. ;)


  1. I look forward to reading it.

    I did indeed love it :) Actually we probably should be more worried about AI if we do discover aliens, that would be the only way that AI would have a reason to "not care," since the AI might not favor us.
    Honestly, though I don't believe the chance of aliens (or sadly AI, at least not in our way of envisioning it) is very high, as fun as douglas adams is.

  2. I am inclined to believe that, in fact, you did not mention your Dad's intention to write said book, as I didn't recall you saying it and, upon returning, could not find it. But, as usual, I could simply be insane. It did, however, allow me to notice I missed some comments upon the last post, which is nice.

    I'm not sure humanity is ready to become irrelevant. Here is the beginning of a webcomic story-arc dealing with the singularity and humanity's response. The creator does not seem to be a terribly linear thinker, so I have trouble following the story, but there are some interesting thoughts therein. I guess I am saying that I don't know if I recommend it, but it is interesting.

  3. Oh, sorry. I definitely had it in there originally, but I guess I deleted it before posting.
    I think his point was that the AI wouldn't care about us because it would be so much more advanced--not that we would become objectively irrelevant.
    And that's one of the things his Secret Plot ideas involve.


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