[LMB] LQ #54: Bujold popularity (Mon. March 23rd,

Howard Brazee howard at brazee.net
Fri Mar 27 15:28:04 GMT 2009

On Mar 27, 2009, at 7:45 AM, Phil Boswell wrote:

>> Remember we were asked for reasons why some fans bounce off Bujold.
>>  I'd guess the majority of fans, like the majority of researchers,  
>> believe as
>> an article of faith that true AI must be possible in principle.   
>> Those fans
>> will expect any vision of the future to contain either AI or a  
>> reason for its
>> absence (Butlerian Jihad, anyone?).
> I'm sorry? It's not true SF without true AI? Why Ai and not aliens?

It's interesting that AI may be a requirement for near future SF, but  
not for far future SF.    That could be because we expect  
extrapolation of the present to the near future, but we can't continue  
such for a long time without having our characters and environment  
becoming too alien to us.   Vernor Vinge's singularity may be more  
about still having a story that is meaningful to us in our current  
world with current values than anything else.

In early days of speculating about AI, people predicted humanoid  
robots acting as chauffeurs.   Nobody predicted cars with a hundred  
computers (powerful by old standards), each doing a small task such as  
regulating gasoline flow.   Our guesses on how AI will really  
integrate with human society are still very likely to be too  
narrow.    I suspect the eventual picture will be something like the  
World Wide Web, and something like an ant hill.    But neither the AI  
nor the human will be the new result.

Because our thinking is so integral to what we are, we forget how much  
of that is wired in.    Just as the early writers wanted AI's with  
human forms physically, we still haven't let go of them being human  
brained.   After all, isn't that what intelligence is?   Being like  
us?   The highest goal possible is to be like us, even more so.

But this gestalt creature won't be like us.

The question is - would a story about such a society be good  
literature to readers of today?   Or do we want SF about people we can  
relate to - in different environments?

(Heck, there are some sensibilities such in the way medieval peoples  
enjoyed torture which no longer work in today's literature).

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