To Be Human, Or Not To Be

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Robot in Love - Rudy Faber

Robot in Love – Rudy Faber

Love and Artificial Intelligence

I’m working on a scene in my new book and stuck on how emotionally self-aware a robot should be. Artificial intelligence, or A.I., in science fiction go hand-in-hand, like romance titles do with ripped bodices and men with hairless chests. Which brings me to a question … can artificial intelligence ever achieve the emotional rollercoaster that defines who we are as humans?   You know, that thing called love, the craziness that alters behavior, evokes euphoria, obsession, distortion of reality, personality changes, and risk taking (loosely defined as doing really stupid shit because we can’t think straight).  Can anyone actually associate the word intelligence with love?

A.I. can be many things; a voice on a computer or command module, mechanical production, or prosthetic arm with a mind of its own, but it’s more fun to create A.I. in our own image, give them a humanistic physique so we dream about indentured servants who won’t bitch about workloads, or get a headache when daddy’s feeling frisky.

Could you love an artificial human … real love … beyond a mind-in-the-gutter play toy that knows where all the right tickle points are? For that to be possible, our robot friend will need to reciprocate with an emotional range that isn’t easily coded in algorithms, because true love … defies common sense. Continue reading

Your Shirt Just Ratted You Out

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From: Whitenoise - Depositphotos.com

From: Whitenoise – Depositphotos.com

Thinking back at all the science fiction I’ve read over the years, real-time biomedical telemetry is rarely a major theme in the story line.  Dr. Leonard McCoy of Star Trek fame pioneered scanning tools with computer assisted diagnostic tech, all so he can report:     He’s dead, Jim.

Sure, a few stories touched on “vitals” monitoring.    He’s still dead, Jim.   

Intelligent pills have already hit the test market, ready and able to snitch on you from the inside. Now, scientists have developed textiles that can monitor and transmit wearer’s biomedical info (Sparkonit, December 2014).  If you thought privacy was an issue with smart phones, wait until the healthcare industry starts insisting on textiles with biomedical remote telemetry.

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Love and the Fickle Finger of Fate

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Our Lucky Numbers - @agsandrew via Depostphotos.com

Our Lucky Numbers – @agsandrew via Depostphotos.com

It’s no secret that romance writers love imagining how fate throws two people together.  It’s a big part of the RWA canon.  Protag should meet love interest by chapter two and must have a satisfying ending.  Killing the love interest, like Downton Abby does with regularity, is frowned upon (but forgiven if you’re … Downton Abby).   It is not a new formula. Twentieth-century movies formatted the process for decades with “guy meets girl, guy loses girl, guy gets girl“.  Joke as I may about RWA’s blueprint, all I know about writing romantic entanglements came from published authors of romance novels, nurtured by the RWA.  They know a thing or two about love. I belong to the RWA. There – I just outed myself (but wisely waited until after the Super Bowl).

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Eating – A Humanizer in Stories Ancient and New

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From: Wikipedia-Charlie Chaplin, The Gold Rush

From: Wikipedia-Charlie Chaplin, The Gold Rush

 

Those of you who keep up with me, might have noticed I occasionally blog about food and eating, especially if it’s weird, or has futuristic nuances. If you’re interested in past articles, I pasted the links below.

A recent National Geographic article, The Joy of Food, piqued my interest with the opening quote:

“What is it about eating that brings us closer together?”

I’d like modify it to reflect a writer’s view of it.

What is it about eating that enhances a story?

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Stay in Lane

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From: 72soul@DepositPhotos.com

From: 72soul@DepositPhotos.com

First week of the New Year has come and gone, and I have yet to spend much time thinking about it. I have a good excuse (don’t we all). I’ve been out west the last few weeks, spending holidays with my new grandson. He manufactures enough drool in one day to fill a 55-gallon drum and I find the experience somewhat fascinating. Has to be a cottage eco-industry here somewhere.

I’m not much of a resolution person, but I’d be lying if I didn’t think about a need to hit the refresh button. Last year found me spending way too much time on social media, and not enough time on the reason I showed up in the first place, writing stories. Upside, I am slowly building a twitter following of like-minded individuals, my blog is attracting more followers every month, though Pinterest has become the equivalent of social media crack. I’ve learned more this past year with respect to the craft. Be surprised how much we think we know, but don’t. And to throw a few marbles on the hardwood floor beneath our feet, the industry continues to evolve, with heavy influences of Darwinism in which established species grow stronger and organisms able to uniquely specialize, inherit the earth.

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Bright Be The Light That Brings You Home

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From: Erhlif - DepositPhotos.com

From: Erhlif – DepositPhotos.com

Shortest day of the year is upon us.  Unless you’re lucky to live near the equator, winter is more dark hours than light, nature of our celestial place in the cosmos. Before the grumbling begins about old man winter, we’ll revel in the season with lighted decorations, lots of edible goodies, cheer, and the warm embrace of family and friends.  Through the years, my life’s journeys have carried me far from home shores, often for long periods, with coming-home-itus acute. No one feels this more pointedly than men and women in active military service.

Longing to come home is integral to the human spirit. Waiting is the other half of this longing; people on opposite ends of an invisible string pulling toward each other.

Deep is the darkness that falls down on me
Long is the long night ’til morning will be
Bright be the north star to shine constantly
‘Til winter brings you home safely to me

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A Little Progress On My Wish List

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From: DepositPhotos.com

From: DepositPhotos.com

Last year about this time, I waxed curmudgeonly on Things I’m Still Waiting For, like interplanetary ion drives, flying cars, hover boards, to mention a few.  Time magazine’s recent Best Inventions of 2014 review, has some interesting items for consideration.

First out of the chutes is a real-life hover board, not unlike the one I drooled over in the movie Back to the Future. Not exactly the fly anywhere version Michael J. Fox used, but it’s a start.  We’re still shooting objects into space via 1950’s style ballistic missiles, but it’s getting cheaper.  India just parked a satellite in Mars orbit for the paltry sum of $74 million.  Hell, that’s less expensive than retiling the old Space Shuttle.  Fossil fuel sourced energy is more popular than ever, but Lockheed’s development of a High-Beta Fusion Reactor, just might get us closer to the holy grail of nuclear fusion.  Molecular X-Rays (images of body at molecular level) might bring Dr.McCoy of Star Trek, back in vogue. The humanitarian invention of the year is a filtration system that scrubs Ebola virus from the blood stream.

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Are You Going To Eat That?

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From: DepositPhotos.com

From: DepositPhotos.com

Diehards nationwide are lining up to run in the holiday Turkey Trot.  Imagine a marathon of a different kind.  Participants hop about like caged rabbits on too much caffeine, flabs of steel barely contained by Kevlar reinforced spandex. It’s a record crowd of sumo wrestler contestants with tattooed contest numbers emblazoned on their foreheads, waiting for the starting gun for this year’s Blubber Trot.  First hundred finishers get to be first in line at the communal Horn-of-Plenty table.  Those who don’t finish, have to watch Hunger Games 3 without popcorn. Paying spectators will be allowed wander the leftover carnage and ask, “Are you going to eat that?”

It’s my annual humorous take on what I blithely refer to as the advent of blubber season (see last year’s article, Tis the Season to be Gluttonous).  The holiday season is like no other time of the year.  We dust off the George Bailey personality left in a drawer from last year, greet everyone like family, and gorge like our prehistoric forbearers did when they felled a mammoth.  Would you like leg meat or trunk? 

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The Apocalypse Beneath Our Feet

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National Geographic - Aug 2009

National Geographic – Aug 2009

For those of us who write dystopian/apocalyptic fiction, doesn’t seem to be any shortage of theories on what could steer humanity (and other life forms) toward the extinction exit ramp. Current scare of the year is pandemic disease, aka Ebola, and any evil progeny that mutates. Modern NASA satellite tracking hardware has made us more aware of the many PHAs (Potentially Hazardous Asteroids) with our name on it. Anders Sandberg has an “existential list” compiled of Five Biggest Threats to Human Existence, number one being the ever-popular nuclear war jitters.  I found his fifth candidate interesting, if not thought provoking; – unknown unknowns – or something deadly out there that we have no clue about.

I have my own list, which includes that which bubbles beneath our feet; – millions of tons of molten Mother Earth, looking for an exit. No finer example of it is right here in North America, a super-caldera beneath Yellowstone National Park.

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Just Ctl – Alt – Delete Me

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From: DesignPicsInc - DepositPhoto.com

From: DesignPicsInc – DepositPhoto.com

“Grandpa, No. Double click the Internet Explorer icon, then download the updated App. That should fix it.”

 

This is supposed to be the time I help the younger generation, drawing on lessons from decades of life experience. Unfortunately, I’m too busy trying to keep up with ever changing technology, code words that come with it, and service websites that have become minefields of ineptitude.  Synchronizing the new TV to the internet requires a college course on WiFi gobbledygook. My cell phone is about as intuitive as programming a satellite launch. Passwords now require mixed characters. Took a month to set up my website, and I used a preexisting template on WordPress, but why do I have to learn HTML code?  Don’t get me started on widgets.

I know, we’ve been down this road before (see Texting – Conversational Spam), but technology and the software it comes with, is supposed to make life easier, not drive us to excessive use of pharmaceuticals. No, it’s not a sign of my age, wishing for a simpler life.  It’s that embarrassing call to kids still in diapers, to sheepishly ask for advice when things go haywire.

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