Wednesday 30 December 2015

#top100 #scifi Num:92 Holy Fire

@bruces Plausible near future SciFi. Like all great SciFi the book uses technology and visions of futuristic society as a means of exploring the deeper questions of what it is to be human. Here the tensions between the philosophies of the young and the old; Disruption and status quo.

Bruce Sterling - Holy Fire


Saturday 26 December 2015

#top100 #scifi Num:93 Matter


Some great Aliens and hints of ancient mysteries. The planet is like a massive nested Mos Eisley bar with Alien cultures rubbing cheeks and creating friction. To my mind a bit long and rambly. Still it's a Banks Culture novel, and Banks on a bad day is the better than most of the competition at the top of their game.

Iain M.  Banks - Matter


Friday 25 December 2015

#top100 #scifi Num:94 The Algebraist

Diabolical Luseferous! The torture scenes still bother me to this day, squatting in the back of my mind like malevolant toads. A galaxy violent and desperate but without the steady cynical hand's of the Minds to guide it.

Iain M.  Banks - The Algebraist


Thursday 24 December 2015

#top100 #scifi Num:95 Signal to Noise

Hard dark SciFi with everybody keeping their head's down in a hostile galaxy. Interstellar phishing.

Eric S. Nylund - Signal to Noise


Thursday 17 December 2015

#top100 #scifi Num:96 Uplift: The Complete Original Trilogy

@DavidBrin - Great concepts, alien environments and hard science. Perhaps lacking a bit of gritty realism at times.

David Brin - Uplift: The Complete Original Trilogy


Thursday 10 December 2015

#top100 #scifi Num:97 Dancers at the end of Time

@MoorcocksMisc - Decadent, jaded, hopeless. How I expect homo sapiens to end up, shortly before the last of us passes away from apathy.

Michael Morcock - Dancers at the end of Time


Friday 4 December 2015

#top100 #scifi Num:98 The Kefahuchi Tract Trilogy

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1PZbU7r
@mjohnharrison John Harrison - Disturbing Original Sci-Fi. Bold concepts and brocken people. Quantum ontology and a unknowable hostile universe.

John Harrison - The Kefahuchi Tract Trilogy


Monday 30 November 2015

#top100 #scifi Num:99 Spider World

Colin Wilson - This is a bit of a wild card. I read this many years ago, but remember the wrongness of a world ruled by intelligences so inaccessible.

Colin Wilson - Spider World


Thursday 26 November 2015

#top100 #scifi Num:100 Seveneves

@neilstephenson0 - Epic stuff, although a bit contrived. Rare, tantalizing, fibrillous ties to a bigger picture.

Neil Stephenson - Seveneves


Wednesday 25 November 2015

#top100 #scifi Num:101 The Children of the Sky

@VernorVinge - Not his best, but alien aliens and lots of good conceptual stuff. 

Vernor Vinge - The Children of the Sky


Tuesday 10 November 2015

A.G.C.T.X.Y. DNA goes from 4 to 6 letters.


Friday 6 November 2015

Crows Know Death

While the idea of a Crow funeral is unnerving, I'm impressed how much performance they get out of their tiny brains. 
Favorite quote: ‘I don’t care what you say, I’m calling the police.’ 


Wednesday 14 October 2015

Schrödingers Germ

It's all just atoms in the end but this does feel like a milestone.

“Although it has attracted enormous interest, no quantum superposition state of an organism has been realized."


Sunday 11 October 2015

Thursday 10 September 2015

Odious Debt

"The rising tide of debt cannot be explained by a rising tide of laziness or irresponsibility. The debt is systemic and inescapable. It isn’t fair, and people know it."

"Radical proposals such as these bear in common a recognition that money, like property and debt, is a sociopolitical construct. It is a social agreement mediated by symbols: numbers on slips of paper, bits in computers. It is not an immutable feature of reality to which we can but adapt. The agreements that we call money and debt can be changed. To do so, however, will require a movement that contests the immutability of the current system and explores alternatives to it."


Thursday 27 August 2015

Algorithmic Art

Feedback in Google pattern matching algorithms creates surreal dreamscapes:

Impressionism was fascinated by the nature of seeing, colour and optics.
Is human art just the externalisation of our visual algorithms?
In fact our entire culture can probably be considered an external manifestation of cognitive biases and neural architecture.


Thursday 20 August 2015

No Country for Men

Women's jobs safe from robots, Men's jobs less so:

I worked in Austria years ago on a dairy farm turned hotel. Historically the men had worked the farms while the women had stayed at home running the house. Tourism had upset the status quo. Farming was marginalised, families prospered from the tourist money, women gained status - the men sat in cafes and bars and many took up the popular local hobby of alcoholism.


Wednesday 12 August 2015

Eternal Youth from Young Blood?

Demographics shifts wealth and power to the old. Youth gets student debt, unpaid internships, crazy property prices and now the prospect of getting the life squeezed out of them - drop by drop - to keep a population of ageing vampires young.

I can't see this ending well.


Wednesday 5 August 2015

Hive Mind

Another path to the Singularity - Mind Swarms & Gestalt Personalities.
How long can fragile human egos remain intact against the coming of the Hive Minds? 

“I can imagine surgeons coordinating surgery together or mathematicians visualizing the solution to a problem together. Or musicians and artists with a new way of working creatively.”


Sunday 2 August 2015

Technology Wagging the Dog

Are we still wearing the wizards hat? Has the golem blinked?

Technology is happy to take us with it,  towards its womb - an obscure grey cloud sparkling with nano-bots and AIs - as long as we don't dare touch the reigns!

Technology is the phenotype. We are the cellular machinery encoding its genome.



Thursday 30 July 2015

Stone Tools Before Homo

The production of the earliest stone tools has now been bushed back to 2.6 million years ago, before the homo genus even evolved, and half way back to our split from chimpanzees! (although this split is a very vague date). Chimps have also recently been shown to use spears to hunt other mammals.

The vast amount of time between then, and 50K BCE when we started doing all the other interesting human things we are so proud of, is staggering - what were we doing for two and a half million years?! Probably chilling.


(Image source: http://www.jay-matternes.com)


Thursday 11 June 2015

Taller, Deeper, Greener.

I am trying to think forward 50 years or so for a new book.

Taller, deeper and greener seem to be the generally accepted trends. But this misses the alienation technology and architecture are causing in our collective psyche. I want to explore the idea of libertarian micro nations, e.g. http://www.seasteading.org and how technology, freedom and architecture play off each other.

Architecture and Social planning can help recast the world at a human scale. In a village, anytime from 20K BC to 100 years ago, anybody interested in performing in front off an audience could learn to play the guitar or source a tambourine. If they were good: people would listen, tap their feet and sway smiling. If they were great: people would travel a whole day to come from the neighbouring villages just to listen. Fulfilment within reach of all. And a good carpenter or painter would have had the same opportunities.

These days, with 7 Billion people sharing and posting to Youtube - even if you are great, there will be another 100K people better, prettier or luckier - who do the same as you do, probably while also riding a unicycle or playing a ukulele. Everybody ends up listening to the same few acts. These egos become hyper inflated and out of touch, while the majority, seeking the same recognition that has already been gobbled up, whither into depression or end up in a cubicle.

Both intellectually and physically we need to operate at a much more human scale.

Perhaps a hierarchical devolution of power to communities and a greater focus on local activity will help close The Great Divide. (I realise that Mr. Stiglitz is discussing economic inequality, but the message remains the same).


(image: http://josueperez79.deviantart.com/art/Future-City-1-309682562)

Interestingly Google seems to be thinking about this too: https://plus.google.com/+LarryPage/posts/M1twDYHaui3


Wednesday 10 June 2015

Non Human Rights

Corporations are disembodied, cold legal constructs. Despite their alien nature, and their tendency to exhibit psychopathic behaviour, they are classed as people with freedom of speech, and even some form of freedom of religion.
Whereas Chimps are warm bodied, emotional primates who share 98% of our DNA, and like us love, grieve and care for their infirm. They even look like us - yet are have no rights and are often kept in appalling conditions.

Recently there have been signs that as a society we might be ready to broaden the concept of personhood to include our cousins. In a sense this is the extension of civil rights to other entities.

As a Sci-Fi author future developments in this direction are fascinating. A porous boarder between various types of people: human; animal; algorithmic; (and alien), is great world building and back story.


Support: http://www.nonhumanrightsproject.org
(image: http://benmauro.deviantart.com/art/Primate-Anatomy-tutorial-439863842)


Thursday 21 May 2015

Basic Income - Teaching a Robot to Fish

Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for life. Build a robot to fish and...?

As I have said before, this world is increasingly bleak and hostile to standard v1.1 Homo Sapiens - Corporations exploit both customers and employees. Unemployment soars. The gap between rich and poor grows. Science and tech are increasingly beyond understanding. Its all Bladerunner and Aliens. 

The 'Basic Income' movement is the blue eyed future as it should be. It feels like something out of a Star Trek utopia: 
"What is this 'Money' you speak of?" or 
"You mean on your planet people have to work? Here people work because they want to..."

(Pic: https://www.reddit.com/r/biv/comments)


Wednesday 13 May 2015


Loose the primitive rotors and add some magnetohydrodynamic thrusters and you get something approaching a Culture Drone - without the IQ or attitude.

(image: http://verox11.deviantart.com/art/Unaha-Closp-Culture-Drone-135187558)


Tuesday 5 May 2015

The Asshole Factory

"Our world is now full of Asshole Factories. That’s what the stores, offices, industrial parks, skyscrapers, malls, low-rise blocks, gleaming headquarters, whimsically designed corporate campuses, really are."


Sunday 29 March 2015

Steam Punk Ballooning


Transcend or Die Trying

Exceptionally talented, made my hairs stand on end.


Saturday 14 March 2015

Summoning the Demon - ASI

A lot of very clever people think that Artificial Super Intelligence is just around the corner and will be either very good, or very VERY bad. 


Wednesday 11 March 2015

Gresham’s Law in Social Interactions

A pithy piece that captures the essence of some sick organizations I have experienced.
"Gresham's Law. Gresham's Law states that "bad money drives out good." The classic example is that people will attempt to spend coins suspected of being counterfeit before they spend coins that they know to be honest. Does something similar happen with social status? Emphatically, yes. Within the economy of an office, say, we can distinguish between the 'honest' status earned by doing one's job vs. the 'counterfeit' status earned by carefully manipulating one's image. It's all too easy to reach an equilibrium where counterfeit, image-based status drives out honest, reality-based status. Once an office culture allows its employees to win large amounts of status by 'talking themselves up,' everyone drops what they're doing to focus on seeking credit and avoiding blame. In such an economy, only a sucker does any real work."



Tuesday 10 March 2015

The World is an Airport

I read this a while back and every time I travel since, I am reminded that I am getting a sneak peek at a dystopian future. A similar process is taking place in the wilderness, as the wild spaces disappear to become zoo-like manicured facsimiles of themselves.


Thursday 5 March 2015

Planet of the Apes (2)


Monday 23 February 2015

Planet of the Apes

A little snippet of DNA copied into a mouse gives it a visibly massive rodent super brain! Simple and scary. 


Thursday 19 February 2015

Sunday 8 February 2015

The Paleolithic Continuity Paradigm

Our languages are a block-chain preserving a record of the cognitive jumps and technological developments as paleo humanity spread across Europe.
Long technical read, but fascinating.


Friday 30 January 2015

Waking up to the threat of Sky-Net waking up.

 Man vs Machine

Something like the five stages of grief as these big ideas propagate from Sci-Fi, to fringe, to philosophical discussion, to media talking point. I expect entrenchment and hostility next as big business downplays the risks while they use AGI to extract value from the dumb human economy. In response the liberal tree hugging left will bemoan the loss of dignity as human consciousness becomes a merely inefficient meander in an otherwise clean geometric grid.

Thinking about it, there is no reason the AI world will be efficient bright white plastic and glowing blue strip lighting. They will build their own tooth and nail ecosystems as they scrabble for matter and energy. 

Lets hope evolution has done a good enough job on us, and we are sufficiently efficient at converting calories to mips to eek out a living at the bottom.

(Image http://jusdrewit.deviantart.com/art/Man-vs-Machine-443753072)


Friday 23 January 2015


Whatever the marketing said, I never really counted non-stick toilet bowls or "exfoliating nano-beads" as Nanotechnology. This however seems to be the real deal.


Tuesday 20 January 2015

The Caves of Steel

Reality catching up with another favourite Sci-Fi trope.
Will we all be living under domes within the next couple of decades?


Immortality Now

Whats the point in a Singularity if you don't live long enough to see it?
Live for ever: Scientists say they’ll soon extend life ‘well beyond 120’

(image http://magion02.deviantart.com/art/Dungeon-Fighter-Online-498986467)


Post National - Feudal City States and Distributed Republics


Brains beat Brawn in the Future Ground War


Humans Need Not Apply

We know all this, but it is still stark when spelled out so plainly.

Worker Robot
(image link http://drbonescomics.deviantart.com/art/Worker-Robot-154890983)