Friday, 22 January 2016

Human, Post-Human And Artificial Intelligences

If human beings create artificial intelligences, how will organic and post-organic consciousnesses interact? In the Harvest Of Stars Tetralogy and Genesis, Poul Anderson imagines individual human consciousnesses surviving physical death by their incorporation into self-maintaining and self-replicating AI systems whereas, in Drakon, SM Stirling instead imagines a later human species with indefinitely prolonged lifespans and implanted links to the AI Web.

I have discussed the two works by Anderson previously on this blog. Stirling's Homo drakensis are the immediate descendants of his "Draka" who had imposed a brutal dictatorship on the rest of humanity. Home drakensis seem to have transcended brutality but only by genetically engineering Homo servus to be permanently subservient - plus which their surviving human enemies are currently at an unattainable interstellar distance. Individual drakensis remain armed and lethal.

A drakensis stranded in the twentieth century of an alternative timeline and wanting to summon an invasion fleet wins a Greenpeace supporter to her cause by showing him pictures of the ecologically paradisal Earth of her era. Also controlled by her pheromones, he easily accepts that her society must be hierarchical if it is to be stable but he has not been told the historical origins of that society and can easily be manipulated to accept any killing that she deems necessary, starting with the murder of an employee who would have spoken to the press.

I will reread the passages about the Draka Final Society to compare its dystopian and apparently utopian elements. 1984 is an unrelieved dystopia. Brave New World is a dystopia disguised as a utopia. Drakon seems to be another of the latter.

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