Friday, December 30, 2011

Let's consider a piece of fiction, a novella by Ted Chiang:  "The Lifecycle of Software Objects"

 Fiction, it is.  However, Ted Chiang gives you a glimpse, into a possible path of development from a Siri/Iris type of personal assistant to a conscious software intelligence. The initial suspension of disbelief asks the reader to accept that an increasingly more adept and responsive software package begins to be self-aware in relationship to the software's user.   However, this is no horror story! The users find the software increasingly useful and interesting, and for those reasons provide a rich environment for the software object and a free run of some virtual worlds in which to experience new events and people.  Sure it's fiction, and many of today's naysayers loudly assert that no software could ever become self-aware.  Personally, I find strong assertions about possible futures interesting, but take them all, regardless of source - be it Kurzweil or Joy - with a touch of patient skepticism. You may suspect I'm in the camp of positivists, and you'd be correct. If you prefer to doomsday stories, go for it. I recommend you read this novella, because it is startlingly good and is also a quick read, being less than 30,000 words. 

This is no "HAL" horror story, nor is it Heinlein's "Mike", but it is a thought provoking exploration that will leave you asking "What if...". 

In the realm of Digitaea, Ted's story is about the emergenence of an Ethereate.

I'd be interested in hearing your views, plus or minus, after you've read it. 

Jay Fulton 12-30-2011 

No comments:

Post a Comment