Monthly Archives: May 2013

It’s the principle!

It’s 4:30am and I woke up furious.

I was driving after a rainstorm, and directly in front of me the light had changed red. The road was really slippery, and my car slid right out into the intersection. Thank goodness the intersection was clear, and so I was able to back up to where I should’ve stopped.

No problem, right?

But no, from out of nowhere comes a cop who starts writing me a ticket for running a red light. I get angry and start arguing, and pull out my phone to video the whole thing, and that makes the cop mad. The cop says it’s illegal for me to video him.

Now I am really pissed off because I know that’s false. I tell him I am gathering evidence for court because I intend to fight the ticket. I also tell him that it is not against law, and that I have the law printed out and sitting in my glove compartment. Because, in real life, I actually do! You can photograph anyone at any time in a public place. Anyone – including an officer – who tells you otherwise does not actually know what the law is.

So the confrontation has really escalated, and now the cop has his hand on his gun.

Now here’s the funny part. At this point I’ve already realized that I’m dreaming. I know, on a whim, I could have the guy struck by lightning, or sucked into a black hole, or simply delete him from my dream. I have the power!

But no, I continue arguing with the dream cop. Why? Because it’s the principle!

Finally I do wake up, and now I can’t go back to sleep, and I’m laying here in bed dictating this into my iPad.

You and You Again

This is something I’m exploring in my current novel…

Take a computer program. It’s a set of code. Duplicate it, copy it, and run it on multiple machines. All of those copies are still the same computer program.

Take an artificial intelligence program, an A.I., and duplicate it the same way. Run it on multiple computers. Are they all the same program?

Happy Teleportation AccidentTake a person. You, for example. Send yourself back in time three days, so you can go have dinner with yourself. You’re both sitting at a table in a restaurant together. Are both of them actually you?

Step back into the time machine and go back to when you were ten years old. Are you and your ten-year-old self still the same person? Are you both you? Even though just about every cell in your body has been swapped out with new ones? You both think you’re you.

Step into an instant matter transporter (and, yes, I know this has been done in Star Trek) and something goes wrong. You’ve been duplicated down to the atomic level, and now you and the other you are standing right next to each other. You’re so identical that a molecular scanner can’t tell you apart. Are you both you? You both think you’re “you.”

Step into an instant matter transporter. It zaps you 1000 lightyears away, and also 1000 years into the past. But the way it works is that it instantly disassembles you at an atomic level, and then reassembles you — but not the same atoms, they’re quantum entangled atoms 1000 lightyears away, 1000 years in the past. The result is an exact duplicate of you in another space and time. You think you’re “you.” But are you … you?

You step back into the instant matter transporter, and get zapped back home, 1000 lightyears across space, 1000 years into the future — back to the time when you first left — and are reassembled again. An exact copy, the only one in existence, but now twice removed from the original. Are you still you?

“Anything Goes”

nurturing-daleksAbout two weeks ago I finished my first draft of All You See Is Light, and the very next day I started a new novel, this one a mystery set in a post-Singularity universe. The working title is: Anything Goes. I meant it to be a lighthearted comedy much in the spirit of a Douglas Adams novel, but I guess my humor runs a bit darker than I thought because it’s already started to take some turns I didn’t expect.

For my friends who aren’t familiar with “the Singularity,” it’s a predicted event that some people take very seriously (and some others not so much so) where humanity and our creations get so intertwined that we can’t tell where the line is between man and machine. But it’s also a theoretical point in the future where we lose control of — and can no longer even understand the inner workings of — the devices we’ve created, because they’ve gained control of themselves and their own destiny, and begin to design and build their own machines. Thinking machines creating new machines on their own.

The Terminator movies are a good example of this, but it’s an example of the process going horribly wrong. In my story, it goes in the other direction — we lose control of the artificial intelligences, but instead of them hating humanity and wanting to destroy us, they take over and become our over-protective guardians.

So the questions I’m relentlessly exploring in this book are these:

  1. If we lose control over an omnipotent technology, and it assumes control of everything and strives to keep us from killing ourselves and our environment … is that necessarily a bad thing? Even if it’s extremely annoying?
  2. Is an exact duplicate of you, actually you?

Finished a New Manuscript

Last weekend I finished the first draft of a new novel.

All You See is Light weighed in a 121,343 words, and is connected to, but not a direct prequel or sequel to, Eleven Days on Earth. It’s about a Texan teenager in 1977 who loses his parents to a plane crash, and has to go live with his swinger aunt and uncle in a small coastal town in California. He falls into the midst of a supernatural drama where he’s destined to help a mysterious, angelic woman remember who she is … and when the truth comes out, it puts the fate of the entire world in peril.

I’ve got a lot of rewriting to do, as this is the kind of story where I didn’t really know where it was going … I just let it lead me to where it wanted to go. So the earlier parts of the book will have to be revised quite a bit to support the later parts of the book.

In the meantime it’s sitting and cooling, and I’m plotting out my next one. It’s time to take a break from fantasy and do a fun science fiction comedy.

Update on Dec 21: That didn’t happen. The sci-fi comedy stalled and I began working on an on-again, off-again project (which is now completely on-again, for real this time) — a fantasy called A Wild and Untamed Thing.