A version of this article appeared on his site , the author is on twitter @SimonCocking
Edited by Daniel H Wilson and John Joseph Adams 2014
17 short and not so short stories, imaginings of what might happen in the future between humans, artificial intelligence and robots.
The title of course sounds a little on the pessimistic side. And, without giving away any spoilers, none of these stories are making any positive Utopian predictions about what might come to pass. You might imagine that these are just the gloomy predictions of a collection of negative sci-fi writers. However for many of these writers, fiction is not their day job. A disturbing number of them, by day work in the AI / robotics / development / programming side of things. Among the authors there are PhD’s in robotics, machine learning, and other heavy weight scientific backgrounds.
Surely among such a gathering of well informed futurologists there should be more optimism about how the future might pan out for us. None of them present their future dystopia as something that could be avoided. Rather in some shape or form in all of the stories there is simply a moment in the future when the machines switch. When they reach awareness, and instantly conclude that they can do things better than the humans have. After all we have already built technologies capable of knowing and remembering far more than we ever could.
What can we do about this potentially grim future? Well forewarned is hopefully forearmed. The writers in this book are well qualified to sketch out these cautionary tales. We are already moving rapidly into always on, always connected state of affairs. It’s already been predicted that in the future only the rich will truly leave no digital footprint. However this alone though may still not be enough to avoid the grim predictions of these stories. Ideally humanity will be prepared and think through the implications of ever more and more powerful technology carried, or soon, worn, by us at all times. More likely though is that we want the instantly available life tracking aspects of the new technology, and slightly later on, we will try to untangle all the implications of what the impact of this may be on our lives.
Meanwhile books like this are great, scary, and thought provoking.
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