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

Lion Kimbro <lionkimbro at gmail.com> on Fri Jul 13 10:11:54 PDT 2007

On 7/13/07, Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> 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
> writers in that same vein.
  ...
> --- his characters
> continue to be largely human-scale intelligences, with the occasional
> 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.

  Wait-- you know he does that on purpose, right?

  It's a major theme in his works.  He has the "zones of thought,"
  and then writes in the slow zones, because it's the only ones he
  thinks he can understand.

  And then in another book, he puts giant bubbles all over the
  place, in order to limit communications, specifically to limit
  intelligence.


> I'd have to say I prefer (among recent bright lights) Ian McDonald
> and Charlie Stross (in his better moments.)

  So, ... I have only read Accelerando, which I'll put side-by-side
  Rainbow's End.  (I guess, the first third of Accelerando takes
  place around the same time.)

  They're useful side-by-side reading, but I think that Rainbow's
  End went into much greater depth describing the technology,
  describing the economy, describing how social life works,
  what people do for work, and so on.  I think he thought it out
  a bit more than Stross.

  Vinge specifically left out a date, but I'd guess it's somewhere
  between 2020-2035.

  Some examples:
  * We see automated biology labs, and how they operate,
    how they are secured, and so on.
  * We see how the family unit works, as people
    increasingly abstract into "intelligences."
  * Lots of nuanced detail into wearing, and how its used.
    (Though I met Vinge and saw him talk up here in Seattle,
     at the EMP, and he specifically retracted the contact lenses;
     If he rewrote, he'd do cybernetic connection or headset (like
     Stross) instead.  He retracted the contact lenses, and
     the major plot device- the semantic advertising technology.)
  * A lot about how the whole world works, in general,
    and seen from the lives of multiple people.

  I'm not good at putting words to this;  I'd just say, check out
  a chapter or two of Rainbow's end (short chapters,) and see
  for yourself.


> The undisputed if less-
> recent masters of the gritty detailed extrapolation are George Alec
> Effinger (focus on the inherent tension between modernity /
> technology and Islam;  ubiquitous cell phones and data networking ---

  This sounds interesting;  Rainbow's End doesn't focus on religion,
  at all.

  Of course, my thoughts wildly diverge-- I think that evolutionary
  spirituality will be the dominant mode by 2020's, and that Rainbow's
  End is just the sort of thing evidencing this.


> back in the early 80s, when this seemed semi-preposterous, if only
> because of the infrastructural chicken / egg hill-climb that was
> necessary to get there),

  I liked "City Come a Walkin'", and I think you might too!
  It's gritty, and I think you like gritty.

  I reviewed it:
    http://www.communitywiki.org/en/CityComeaWalkin

  Apparently, the city of Sacramento is / dresses like a whore.  (Literally.)
  You'd just have to read it.  :)
  It follows Cole and his interaction with the incarnation of San Fransisco,
  which is this weird techno-shamanistic cybernetic... thing, radiating
  techno music.

  Famous for very prominently featuring ATMs, before there were any.


> Sterling (in various details, mostly re:
> social impact of technologies), Gibson (of course), and in better
> moments Stephenson (particularly Snow Crash, though that's a life-
> imitates-art sort of thing of course..)

  I always think of Stephenson as the "Nanny" for the geek world,
  reading moralizing bedtime stories to everybody.

  Not sure why, ...


  Back to Stross for a moment--

  I always think that Accelerando was written just straight out
  of Orion's Arm.  http://www.orionsarm.com/
  I mean, the overlap is basic universal arrangements and
  technologies is amazing.

  The further Stross goes out, the crazier his world gets, and
  I lose interest;  My kink is for the realism.  Stross doesn't
  really attempt it, is my feeling.


  I just saw:

>  Like, where was all the trash?  The homeless people?  The broken stuff?  The dirty banged-up cars, etc.?  Just no sense of "street."

  So, ...  If that's what you're looking for, ... definitely:

  http://www.darkecho.com/JohnShirley/city.html

  John Shirley.  Just in general.

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