Thursday, 21 July 2016

On The Last Day

Anderson’s last two future histories transcend anthropocentric futures because they present self-replicating artificial intelligences (AI’s) as superseding humanity. Technology, originally extending hands and brains, now replaces them. In the Harvest Of Stars tetralogy, harmonious AI conflicts with chaotic and arguably redundant mankind and aims to survive the cosmos indefinitely by utilizing the energy of particle decay. Thus, Anderson updated Stapledonian speculation about the ultimate fates of consciousness and the cosmos.
-copied from here.

Anderson went on to write other speculative fiction in which post-organic intelligence hopes to "go beyond" by using either the energy of particle decay or some even more obscure mechanism to survive the heat death of the universe.
-copied from here.

Guy Consolmagno and Paul Mueller (see here, here and here) rightly say that there are two creation stories in Genesis but also that there is another such story in Maccabees. I am not familiar with the latter. They mention some possible responses to the heat death of the universe but not the two that are posited in later works by Poul Anderson: AI expects to survive by utilizing the energy of particle decay or by - some even more obscure means, which I cannot remember.
-copied from here.

"'...on the Last Day, not only will our dead be resurrected, but all that ever was, ever lived, to the glory of God.'" (The Merman's Children, Epilogue, p. 258)

Two Observations
(i) Does anyone remember what was that more obscure means or mechanism that I refer to here? I think that I did quote it on the blog once - something about fitting infinite experiences into finite time by approaching a mathematical limit? (In fact, see the concluding paragraph here.)

(ii) Father Tomislav's vision or prophecy at the end of The Merman's Children is like a supernaturalist foreshadowing of the AI's hope in the Harvest Of Stars tetralogy.

Addendum: I have continued to search and have found the two ways to survive heat death: see here and here.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And in THE FLEET OF STARS we see mankind defiantly refusing to be gently smothered into extinction as we see happening in GENESIS. Rather, the cybercosm grip on the technology needed to enable the human race to spread to other stars and planets was broken. And, it's plain this was the outcome preferred by Poul Anderson.