[FoRK] Douglas Adams: Is there an Artificial God?

Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> on Fri Jul 13 09:52:35 PDT 2007

On Fri, Jul 13, 2007 at 11:12:09AM -0500, Jeff Bone wrote:

> Hmm, I do love Vinge, but I can't agree that his detailed  
> extrapolations are any more (or even as) plausible than / as other SF  

I love Vinge, too, but his scale assumptions (how much humans
you need to drive progress at a given rate) are really grating.

> writers in that same vein.  He seems to make bold and provocative  
> "large inferences" but the gritty minutia and the path from here to  
> there just isn't his strong suit...  (For example:  despite all the  
> trappings of very High Technology --- localizers, interstellar  
> travel, FTL galaxy-scale data networking, etc. --- his characters  
> continue to be largely human-scale intelligences, with the occasional  

That's deliberate. You can't sell stories from a superhuman
intelligence POV, even if you could write them.

> Big Bad AI.  Yet he doesn't convincingly explore why this is the case  
> or how interstellar society functions w/o there being massive deltas  
> in relative individual power levels.

Another grating thing: too much uncritical libertarianism.
> I'd have to say I prefer (among recent bright lights) Ian McDonald  

Never read him.

> and Charlie Stross (in his better moments.)  The undisputed if less- 

Don't really like him. Readable, yes, but I much prefer Vinge.

> This of course brings to mind the old saw:  "science fiction isn't  
> about the future, it's about today."

Of course. You can't sell the unintelligible.
> On that level, the most prescient sci-fi author of the 20th century  
> may well have been Frank Herbert.  Dune is a fantastic discourse on  
> the relationships between religion, power, and society --- and  
> particularly the thorny problems and threats of Islamo-fascism,  

I really don't like that word. What's wrong with radical Islamist?

> terrorism, monopoly, and resource-constraint economics.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820 http://www.ativel.com http://postbiota.org
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