Sex Robots

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I just read an article in the online version of the Sydney Morning Herald, about the development and possible consequences of lifelike intelligent sex robots.

If this prospect interests, excites or appals you, I recommend clicking on this link to read the article and watch the embedded video. I also recommend buying Goldiloxians (The Eeks Trilogy in a single volume) which features sex robots and the practical and ethical complications they may give rise to.

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When humans are over

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Many marvel at my magnanimity, as well as my alliteration. I set up my blog to promote my own writings, yet from time to time I use it to draw attention to the work of my competitors. Today I’m doing it again.

“When humans are over, and have become just another geological stratum, the entirety of our existence will be represented by a layer no thicker than a cigarette paper. Now I find that rather beautifully humbling.”

That is the closing passage of an article in the Guardian Weekly by Philip Hoare (pictured) whose works include Leviathan and The Sea Inside.

These words resonated with me so strongly that I clipped them out immediately. It is exactly this sense of the fragility of our species, combined with its uniqueness, that inspired me to write The Eeks Trilogy.

“What ‘uniqueness’?!” you may protest. “We share Earth with millions of other species that feed, grow, reproduce and die just as we do, and throughout the universe there may be billions more!”

“Aah,” I reply, “but we have yet to meet, or find the skinniest of evidence of, another species with anything approaching our capacity for abstract thought, for curiosity, for imagination or for reasoning. How many dolphins have figured out the Laws of Motion? How many daffodils have made it to the moon?”

If we are unique, if ours are the only minds that have even asked the fundamental questions, we really should take better care of ourselves.

Elegy

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I lay me down, inviting sleep,
Then close my eyes and quietly weep;
And, weeping, I compose an elegy
To all who haven’t read my trilogy.
Oh what joy when, with contrition,
They rectify this sore omission!
Enlightenment and laughter will
Fill their souls and overspill!

Critic   Oi, poet bloke. That don’t rhyme.

Poet    What?!

Critic   “Elegy, trilogy.” That don’t rhyme. Won’t do.

Poet    Well, it very nearly rhymes.

Critic   Not good enough.

Poet    It’s assonance, for God’s sake.

Critic   Asinine, more like.

Poet    Assonance! It’s a perfectly legitimate poetic device. Look it up.

Critic   Wouldn’t have done for John bloody Betjeman and he was Poet Laureate.

Poet    Well it did for Philip bloody Larkin and he was Poet Laureate too!

Critic   Phil who?

Poet    Philip Larkin! Half the time he didn’t bother with rhymes at all, and when he did it was half-baked. “Clothes, those.” “If, life.” “Back, dark.” See?

Critic   S’pose you stand a chance then. Next Poet Laureate?

Poet    It’s… not impossible.

Sapiens

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It shows great generosity of spirit when one author recommends the work of another. This I now do.

I’ve just finished reading ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari, and I urge you to read it too. And give it to your friends and relatives, or at least recommend it to them. It’s subtitled ‘A Brief History of Humankind’, and although there may not be much there that you don’t already know, he puts it together in a way that makes one think about it differently. At least, that’s how I felt.

Best of all, Dr Harari ends by speculating about what will happen next in Homo sapiens’ journey, when our powers to create and control will truly make us godlike and the next step in our evolution will be of our own making.

It put me in mind of my own modest work: The Eeks Trilogy, available from all good e-book retailers in a single volume entitled ‘Goldiloxians’, which speculates about our future dealings with intelligent robots. But do read ‘Sapiens’ too.

Baltic Sea Anomaly

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I’ve seen some bizarre things, but this picture (from www.martianherald.com) looks too bizarre to be natural. It screams, “Flying saucer!”

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Just left of centre you can see two scuba divers, the front one carrying a light.  The following text accompanies the picture:

“Swedish divers came across a circular rock-like formation on the Baltic floor measuring 60 meters in diameter, 3 to 4 meters thick and standing on an 8-meter tall pillar. Both divers and archaeologists are puzzled and don’t know what to make of the object now called the Baltic Sea Anomaly. Researchers have speculated it could be anything from a World War II German anti-submarine device to a UFO, but no definitive conclusion has come forth. The same Swedish diving team that discovered the object later reported that the object was at the end of a 300-meter “runway” and that they had also found what looked like a staircase and a hole leading to the interior of the object. They also claimed that electrical equipment suddenly stopped working in the proximities of the object, which has fuelled speculation that the object is, in fact, an alien spacecraft.”

According to Wikpedia it was found by the Swedish ‘Ocean X Team’ on 19 June 2011.  Do you know anything about it?

As a science fiction writer, I hope it’s not an alien spacecraft. Things like that should remain mysterious and speculative – good for sales.

Unintended Consequences

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I have just read a depressing article by Chris McGreal in the Guardian Weekly.  It’s headed ‘Beattyville: abandoned by coal, swallowed by drugs’ and describes the state of impoverishment and demoralisation that followed the closure of coal mines and other industries in Kentucky.

My stroppiness index rose when I read about the ‘pop’ scam, which works as follows. Supermarkets sell discounted cola to poor people, often for food stamps. The poor people sell the cola to smaller shops, cheaply enough to allow for resale at normal prices, and use the money to buy drugs – in particular an addictive pain-reliever called OxyContin that is supposed to be available only on prescription.

Here is a classic case of unintended consequences, though I’m not sure how anyone administering the food stamps programme could have confused fizzy drinks with food.  I’m not sure what conclusion to draw.  Perhaps it’s that no matter how well-intentioned a policy may be, and no matter how carefully it is crafted, people will find a way to subvert it, turn good to bad, and make poor people poorer still.

As it happens much of my recently published opus, The Eeks Trilogy, is about unintended consequences in the realms of robotics, human relationships and space colonisation.

Social Media

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When I came close to finishing my sci-fi trilogy (The Eeks Trilogy) all the experts said, “You must start a blog. People will read your blog and then they will want to buy your books.”  So I did.  So far it has not attracted enough interest to crash the servers.

Then when I decided to self-publish The Eeks Trilogy in the form of e-books, available through the big online retailers, the experts said, “The key to self-publication is clever use of social media.”  So I hired a social media consultant to set up Twitter and Facebook accounts and feed interesting titbits daily to the world, whipping up a frenzy of fascination.

It’s early days, I know, and as Mrs SG keeps reminding me.  But ‘Eeks‘ has been available FREE for 13 days and the download tally is only 104.  Did J K Rowling have to wait this long for overnight success?!