Sunday, February 18, 2007

AI and Sci-Fi: My, Oh, My!

I'm on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Lifeboat Foundation, which is a group dedicated to safeguarding humanity. They've just done up a beautiful web page featuring my article AI and Sci-FI: My, Oh, My!. Check it out! :)


At February 19, 2007 2:33 AM , Blogger Pete said...

I discovered your article through a link on, and was very impressed with it. You've listed some interesting books I haven't read that I need to go read now. You also wrote a wonderful article.

At February 19, 2007 8:32 AM , Blogger Lou_Sytsma said...

Cool site and interesting article. Thanks for the link Rob!

At February 19, 2007 9:58 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Many thanks, Pete! I should actually point out that "AI and Sci-Fi: My, Oh, My!" is actually a speech, not an article -- it's the keynote address I presented at the Canadian Conference on Intelligent Systems in Calgary. That's why it has such an informal tone -- it was written to be read aloud. :)

At February 21, 2007 4:55 AM , Blogger A.R.Yngve said...

A well-written and intellectually stimulating article on AI.

(I feel like a fool for not having thought of the AI-centric interpretation of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY ... neat new angle on a classic story! :-))

Here's a thought... if we were living in a computer simulation, "bugs" would appear. (I take it as a given that there's no perfect technology.)
So what kind of symptoms should we expect to notice? Perhaps things such as:

A) Local inconsistencies appear in "universal" constants, such as the force of gravity. (One of the Pioneer deep-space probes MAY have registered some funny business with gravity; look it up.)

B) Now and then small objects, when unobserved, may disappear. (This has happened to me. No, really.)

C) Anyone who's played or run an MMORPG (I've worked as QA for one of them) knows that players get extremely irate over perceived "unfairness" or sudden rule changes in the game.

Corollary: If you don't adjust the rules/parameters to keep the MMORPG stable, the players will cry "Unfair!" If you DO adjust the rules/parameters, the players will cry "Unfair!"

So if this reality were a simulation, lots of its conscious members (AIs?) would grow increasingly aggravated over a vaguely perceived "rigging" and "unfairness" of reality.

(Now, how would this frustration manifest itself? Perhaps by the participants making movies and science-fiction stories which point out that reality is an oppressive and/or malfunctioning simulation...)

Cry "Support!" a thousand times and see what happens... if you dare!


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