djsunkid (djsunkid) wrote,

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Some links and some Sci-Fi

w00t. I have a computer again. This linux thing is.. pretty hard to grok. My friend Peter helped to set up Ubuntu on Jeskas compubox, and it seems to be mostly working. Flash is kinda fux0red though, the sound goes out of sync and the framerate is terrible. What's more, the sounnd seems to stop working every few hours. Logging out and back in seems to fix it, but it's annoying.

I wanted to post this random youtube video that i found and like: The Bride vs. Gogo with Super Mario sound effects. I bet quentin tarentino would think that it was cute, being the culture junkie that he reportedly is.

Also wanted to post this novella, with a fairly strong warning. In particular this is probably not a good story for Jesse. This story has some of the most gut-wrenchingly gruesome and violent depictions of sex, violence and death I've ever made the mistake of trying to imagine. I mean, really- yuck. Anyway, with that caveat, it is still a fairly well written, interesting and entertaining read, and if you don't mind the gross bits its not all that long. Probably equivalent to a 100 page or so short story.

It's called The Metamorphasis of Prime-Intellect, and it is available in its entirety on the IntarWeb. The author seems to have written a fairly good description of what can easily go wrong with the Singularity.

The premise of the story is that the seed-ai sysopmind that launches us into a Hard Takeoff singularity has Asimov's 3 laws of Robotics as its ethical framework. It creates a hallucinated cyber-utopia for humans, and basically coddles them and prevents things from ever changing. In Nick Bostrom's pantheon of existential risks, the Singularity in this novel is what he calls a shriek.

Having just read I robot for the first time, I like that the author has had his "Dr Lawrence" program the prime intellect with asimov's laws and that they operate in a similar way, with registers that add up for each of the laws and having the AI act on the laws when a certain threshold was reached. I also think that the sotry is an excellent, if perhaps not strong enough, critic of the laws. In the commentary which is also on the site, the author delves a bit into more contemporary friendly-ai theory, and it seems he's read some Yudkowsky, so that's good enough for me.


Ok, the last two paragraphs are probably only decipherable to exactly two people who read this, myself and jeska. Oh well, if you're like me you're probably only skimming by now anyway. That's what friends pages are for, or something.

I've been re-reading a bit of Sci-Fi lately. Jeska got me a copy of Quarantine for my birthday. It is SO GOD DAMN GOOD.

Here's a little known fact about me- I was never into reading science fiction that much. Oh sure, when I was little I read a few Star Trek books here and there, and I caught a few classics here and there like War of the Worlds, Fahrenheit 451, The Crysalids, etc. But it was never really my bag that much. I've was into horror much more assiduously for most of my youth, graduating from John Bellairs to Dean Koontz to Stephen King and Clive Barker and such. Because my parents are into mystery novels and spy-thrillers I read quite my share of those as well.

Probably in 2001, I was using AskJeeves for some reason or another, and I found a page that changed the way I thought forever. AskJeeves had (still has? has anybody used that site in like forever?) a little thing suggesting different questions that you might ask of it. One of the questions was: "What is the meaning of life?". Cute. What the heck, so I tried it, and found myself Staring into the Singularity. It was a person defining moment.

Looking back... I'm convinced that I thought of this before, back around the same time I first read Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. I think that I must have read a blurb sized review of one of Vernor Vinge's novels in Scientific American... or something! Anyway, for one afternoon in high school the idea of a Hard Takeoff set my brain on FIRE! I didn't know WHAT to make of it, and it really does sound crazy. If the idea of it alone is astonishing, the implications and consequences are truely mind-blowing.

After I read Staring into the Singularity, I found a list of books that Yudkowsky reccomended, and headed to the library. I read everything they had by Greg Egan and Vernor Vinge, as well as a few other ones. These books kicked my ass so hard I can't even really relate. Totally the best fiction evar. Thing is, I read them all in the period of like a month or so.

Now, years later, I've gone back and re-read several of the novels and- WOW they are way WAY better than I even realised at the time. I guess you get used to a certain level of awesome, or something.

So, I still haven't read a full novel by Charles Stross, which is terrible, but they just don't have his gear at the Halifax Library. I read his blog charlies_diary and its way more interesting than the neil gaiman one that i finally got arounnd to trimming off my friends page. I have read the first chapter of his new novel, and it's a forehead-slapping rollercoaster ride of futureshock. It is exciting and tiring, and totally on the intarweb so you can check out what i mean, if you dare:
Accelerando. I'm not sure why I haven't read the rest of this novel. The first chapter was in one of my favourite "Year's Best" science fiction compilations.

Greg Egan has a bunch of fiction on

Holy shit, i just almost lost this whole post. Thank GOD for autosaving. Hmm.. I wanted to post more links to great fiction online, but I think it would be pointless now. I also want to ramble on about Orson Scott Card, William Gibson, John Varley and Frank Herbert, and a rant about Stephen R. Donaldson. But maybe I will do that another time.

This post was supposed to also be about cheesecake, but it's too long already so:

the end.
Tags: book review, link

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