Thursday, 2 March 2017

AI In Fiction

Artificial intelligence is theoretically possible but it would have to be an artifact that duplicated human brain processes whereas computers merely simulate such processes. A computer mechanically or electronically applies rules to symbols but does not consciously know or understand the meanings of the symbols. Of course, a future artifact might perform the functions both of an unconscious computer and of a conscious brain.

Poul Anderson's fiction includes several AIs, some incorporating human memories. Does any blog reader remember exactly what happens in Anderson's The Avatar? A human brain links to the computer of an interstellar spaceship. However, is this computer also an AI or is consciousness provided only by the linked brain?

I think that some theoreticians have supposed that computers generate a realm called "cyberspace" and that a human consciousness would be able to move around within this "space," seeing, e.g., colors and structures corresponding to bodies of computer data? (See Neuromancer.) However, I also think that all that is inside computers is the physical workings of the computers.

These reflections are prompted by John Constantine's friend (see image) who matches his alpha waves with a computer, then projects the electonic impulses of his consciousness across the logic gap into the computer where he accesses information.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I am skeptical that it will ever be possible for computers to also become AIs. But we do see Poul Anderson trying out such ideas in many of his works--such as Muddlehead, the AI in David Falkayn's space ship. Or the AI placed on Wayland in A CIRCUS OF HELLS.

    My vague recollection of THE AVATAR is that Joelle was somehow mentally linked to an advanced computer. That is, she provided the computer with an AI.