Now available as eBook and paperback
What makes something sentient? What does it take for an entity to be aware of its own existence and to want to interact with the world of its own accord? Is it a gift from God or hard science? Is it something fundamentally human or animal in nature or is it a simple technological principle based on brain size? There are many models, of course. But, if consciousness is simply a natural product of neural complexity then eventually, in theory, we might build something – a computer or a machine – that was actually big enough to wake up!
Oh, wait …!
The widespread ramblings, which have appeared on this blog over the years, now make a partial contribution to a novel. (See http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/vicgrout)
Vic Grout’s Conscious is set a year or three into the future. The ‘Internet of Everything’ is making the world a more connected place than ever before. People’s lives are becoming increasingly automated. But something odd is happening … ‘Things’ are beginning to misbehave and no-one can work out why. What starts as an amusing inconvenience quickly becomes very serious indeed!
A ragged bunch of academics, scientists and philosophers are on the case – and may know the answer. But now they have to convince people that their crazy explanation is true. And that’s only the start. Against a backdrop of a world suddenly beginning to fall apart, they’re in a race against time to get someone to do anything about it. And not everyone is on their side!
(The second of two posts distilled from a talk given at the 2011 Wrexham Science Festival. The first part, ‘The Singularity is Coming … Or Is It?‘, appears separately. However, both have a common thread and share some material.)
It seems that the next few decades may give us something really remarkable: truly intelligent computers; that, before the 21st century is a half, maybe a third, old, we could be living with machines capable of genuine, independent thought. Apparently, this is not science fiction or the ‘artificial intelligence’ of the 20th century but real intelligence. So many questions … Can that really happen? Will it? How? What does it mean? What will that world be like? What do we have to look forward to? Or to fear? How do we get from here to there … and do we want to? How does today’s AI technology develop into tomorrow’s thinking machine? What will we do with it when we’ve got it? What happens if we get it wrong? Can we ultimately build something ‘better’ than us? Will we be served by teams of intelligent robots or is there a risk that we could end up serving them? Or, as we and the machines both evolve, will the ‘natural’ distinction between human and computer eventually become blurred and ultimately unimportant? Pause for breath … Continue reading
(The first of two posts distilled from a talk given at the 2011 Wrexham Science Festival. The second part, ‘Dawn of the Intelligent Machines?, appears separately. However, both have a common thread and share some material.)
It’s sometimes said in the media and entertainment world that you haven’t made it until you’ve been ridiculed on South Park. The technological equivalent is probably that a concept isn’t mainstream until it’s featured in Dilbert. If that’s the case, then ‘the singularity’ has passed a necessary (if not sufficient) condition. But does that make it any more real? Continue reading