The Pong Imperative: Driving Dishbrain to Suicide.

Category: neuro, sentience/cognition

Achilles Desjardins had always found smart gels a bit creepy. People thought of them as brains in boxes, but they weren’t. They didn’t have the parts. Forget about the neocortex or the cerebellum—these things had nothing. No hypothalamus, no pineal gland, no sheathing of mammal over reptile over fish. No instincts. No desires. Just a […]

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Remora

Category: fiblet

Just below the surface, now. The stars so close he can almost see them. The prep compartment is equal parts hope and terror: just a few more meters to the shuttle, Heinwald can see the docking hatch right there in front of him. But isn’t this always where the monster jumps out? Isn’t it during […]

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The Jovian Duck: LaMDA and the Mirror Test

Category: AI/robotics, sentience/cognition

 You all must know about this Google LaMDA thing by now. At least, if you don’t, you must have been living at the bottom of Great Bear Lake without an Internet connection. Certainly enough of you have poked me about it over the past week or so. Maybe you think that’s where I’ve been. For […]

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The Aspirational Zombie.

Category: ink on art, neuro, sentience/cognition

Long-time readers of the ‘crawl might remember that I’ve never had much patience for the AI’s Just Wanna Live trope. I put my bootprint on it in my very first novel— “Expert defense witnesses, including a smart gel online from Rutgers, testified that neuron cultures lack the primitive midbrain structures necessary to experience pain, fear, […]

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Parts of People.

Category: ink on art, neuro

“My life has been 107 hours long,” says Ms. Casey, Wellness Counselor at Lumon Industries, moments after learning she won’t be making it to 108. “Of all that time, my favorite was the eight hours I spent in Macrodata Refinement. You could say those were my Good Old Days.” Of course, Ms. Casey—or whatever her […]

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Inadvertent Virtue

Category: politics

I’d been negotiating intermittently with my Russian publisher for months: backlist titles up for renewal, a new collection of short stories. We’d been poking back and forth since November. Everything was in coming together. Then Putin went ballistic. The wall came down. The paperwork was done but no money had changed hands—so, the contracts remain […]

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Nukes or Keys

Category: politics

Kateryna from Odessa builds art out of bits of polished sea glass: everything from beetles to jewelry cases to horned human skulls. I don’t know her, exactly. We’ve never met. But she’s a fan, and when I visited Ukraine a few years back she sent me one of her creations—a little stained-glass egg—via a friend […]

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A Plethora of Pictures

Category: art on ink

Yeah, I’ve been delinquent for a while now. It’s partly because things that pay generally get higher priority than things that don’t. It’s partly because writing my preferred sort of post (crunchy science or science-related politics) takes longer to research and write than the easier fiblets or tub-thumpery. It’s partly because the story I most […]

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Defective.

Category: fiblet

Ancient. Capricious. Vengeful. They lived among the stars and they hurled firebolts that would destroy any world they touched. We could see their tracks, once we knew how to look: faint wisps of ionized hydrogen out in the Oort, barely detectable after cooling for a dozen years; warmer footprints smoldering in the Kuiper and inside […]

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COP/out

Category: In praise of biocide, rant, scilitics

“Governments should be afraid of their people”—Alan Moore It was our “last chance to act”, according to Sheldon Whitehouse of the Democratic Party. The “last best hope for the world”, according to John Kerry. Boris Johnson invoked James Bond doomsday machines, declared it “one minute to midnight”, and warned that “If we don’t act now […]

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