Culture

Vernor Vinge on the Singularity and the End of Humanity & Christmas Cards & More

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Excuse us, we were driving in the neighborhood when we ran out of dilithium crystals. Can we use your communicator to call a tow truck?

Science fiction novelist and Singularity inventor Vernor Vinge talks with the excellent h+ , the transhumanist mag of record.

From the condensation of Vinge's interview:

"I'd personally be surprised if it hadnt happened by 2030," he announces, saying humankind may become "the only animal that has figured out how to outsource its cognition" to superintelligent machines. "It is very unsettling to realize that we may be entering an era where questions like 'What is the meaning of life?' will be practical engineering questions," 64-year-old Vinge agrees.

"On the other hand, I think it could be kind of healthy, if we look at the things we really want—and look at what it would mean if we could get them."

Whole thing here.

Reason Contributing Editor Mike Godwin (yes, that bastard who made it that much more difficult to haul out the reductio ad hitlerum in schoolyard debates) interview Vinge for the mag of Free Minds and Free Markets in May 2007. A snippet:

It's a truism that science fiction is always about the present. That is, the stories are simply a reflection of the concerns of the era in which they are written. That's a good insight, but imprecise: Science fiction is almost always a reflection of the author's present. Looking back, I see how I was immersed in stories that pointed in this direction, including stories by Olaf Stapledon, Poul Anderson, and John W. Campbell Jr. Entire generations of science fiction writers had enchanted me with visions of how different the future could be. Many of these writers had speculated on the consequences of superintelligence. The notion that those consequences might be in the near future was often missing, but by the time of my childhood it was obvious to anyone of overweening optimism.

Whole thing here.

Speaking of sf, here's Katherine Mangu-Ward on Tor Books, the world's leading publisher of speculative fiction, especially stuff that's anti-death and anti-taxes!.