I just finished my podcast reading of my latest story, "Epoch," which Mark Shuttleworth commissioned for my upcoming short story collection/experiment, With a Little Help
. It's the story of the sysadmin charged with shutting down the first and only functional AI, which no one can figure out a reason to save -- and it's the story of the AI's bid to save its own life by fixing the Unix 32-bit rollover problem.
The podcast is in eight parts -- I started reading it before I'd finished the story, so there's some minor inconsistencies that'll be fixed in the final cut. Next up I'll be reading "Martian Chronicles," my young adult story about free-market ideologues colonizing Mars, and the video games they play on the way to the Red Planet.
The doomed rogue AI is called BIGMAC and he is my responsibility. Not my responsibility as in "I am the creator of BIGMAC, responsible for his existence on this planet." That honor belongs to the long-departed Dr Shannon, one of the shining lights of the once great Sun-Oracle Institute for Advanced Studies, and he had been dead for years before I even started here as a lowly sysadmin.
No, BIGMAC is my responsibility as in, "I, Odell Vyphus, am the systems administrator responsible for his care, feeding and eventual euthanizing." Truth be told, I'd rather be Dr Shannon (except for the being dead part). I may be a lowly grunt, but I'm smart enough to know that being the Man Who Gave The World AI is better than being The Kid Who Killed It.
Not that anyone would care, really. 115 years after Mary Shelley first started humanity's hands wringing over the possibility that we would create a machine as smart as us but out of our control, Dr Shannon did it, and it turned out to be incredibly, utterly boring. BIGMAC played chess as well as the non-self-aware computers, but he could muster some passable trash-talk while he beat you. BIGMAC could trade banalities all day long with any Turing tester who wanted to waste a day chatting with an AI. BIGMAC could solve some pretty cool vision-system problems that had eluded us for a long time, and he wasn't a bad UI to a search engine, but the incremental benefit over non-self-aware vision systems and UIs was pretty slender. There just weren't any killer apps for AI.
I spy (a brand new junk portrait of) Pee-wee Herman at the :29 mark Exciting news: Jason Mecier, the artist who makes celebrity mosaic portraits in junk (or other objects like candy or cereal) has announced his first book. It’s called Pop Trash: The Amazing Art of Jason Mecier and it’s due out July 17, […]
Candles that smell like a bookstore, old books, or a musty old cellar? Pal, you sure like books! My home is filled with books, and pets. Guess which one lends more to the olfactory nature of my domicile? Frequently, especially after running the carpet deep-cleaner, I’ll want to light a candle… or burn a sage […]
What follows is the most mind-altering first chapter I’ve read in a long time, from biomechanist Katy Bowman’s latest book Movement Matters: Essays on movement science, movement ecology, and the nature of movement. These items —an electronic car unlocker and a tea bag— are convenient. But what I’ve realized is, when we say or think “convenience,” it’s […]
Total versatility isn’t something you’d typically find in a telescope. While magnification tech has come a long way, most telescopes are designed to either gaze upon the stars or view the landscapes beneath them. The Omegon Maksutov Telescope MightyMak 60 lets you do both, and thanks to its compact design, you can easily incorporate some sightseeing into […]
The web is an invaluable tool for connecting small businesses with their target audiences. However, when it comes to building a website and marketing online, the learning curve can be steep if you’re doing it on your own. The WordPress Essentials Lifetime Bundle can help you out by getting you up to speed with the platform […]
Most of us understand that when we visit a website, we’re subjecting ourselves to surveillance by trackers. And, while these tools are usually used for innocuous purposes, like determining which ads to show you, they can be leveraged for much more nefarious goals, and they have the potential to tank your browsing speed as well as […]