The Singularity and the King 4

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Michael Silva and I were talking about our post-Singularity kingdom when who should…walk up? But Turbo Fanatic! Hi Turbo!

Turbo: People are actively working to provide inanimate objects with narrative power (smart cars that complain when they need repairs! Kitchen appliances that talk to each other!) and I wonder if there will be a point where science and technology produce a world that acts like a fairy-tale. You’d better be nice to your car if you want it to run, refrigerators helping victims of abuse, runaways talking to uplifted crows that gather trash in exchange for food, that sort of thing.

Dan: That’s a fascinating idea.  It also dovetails with a project I’ve been thinking about.

Turbo: Oh man! I like that consciousness hack story! That fits nicely with the idea that future technology may be built to be anthropomorphized (I’ve seen sci-fi with fantasy and fairytale elements, but I can’t think of any time that anthropomorphization has been specifically called out as a goal for it’s own sake*). Actually, thinking a little more about it, isn’t that kind of what the iphone OS was doing? Indeed, Apple’s oeuvre seems to be about divorcing the underlying chaotic physical system from the visible external system (full of meaning and narrative power!). By that logic could we make some assumptions about future developments in technology? *Plenty of sci-fi is about AIs, but the “narrative universe” angle seems new. I love fairytale narratives but like to explore outside them, to prepare for the inevitable time when fairytales will fail.

Dan: I think that is what Lovecraft and the other counter-rationalists were getting at. The more we learn about how the universe REALLY works, the more we see that we are not its center. That scares some people, and they would prefer a universe run by a god. Even an evil god at least cares about us enough to want to hurt us.

So, that’s your theme, your conflict, your climax, and your plot right there. The characters begin what they believe is a fantasy quest, (perhaps to kill an evil god and bring back the Age of Singularity?) They succeed and kill the evil god, only to find themselves in the vast, impersonal, real universe, where the consequences don’t often make sense and bad things happen for no reason.

So the resolution of the plot, then, would be how to deal with (basically) the problems of Positivism . Do we pull the blankets over our heads and pretend that our lives are stories and everything happens for a reason? Do we abandon hope and kill each other since nothing matters anyway? Do we put the uncaring universe aside and say “let’s do what we can to make this place more pleasant?” The characters can see that their fantasy world is a kinder-garden built by their ancestors to shelter them from harsh reality. And now it’s time to build their own garden.

You know. Or something.


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