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posted by martyb on Wednesday February 13 2019, @01:22AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the cell-ular-automaton dept.

March: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) by Dennis Taylor

Discuss The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein in the comments below.

Fiasco was translated into English in 1988 by Michael Kandel:

Fiasco (Polish: Fiasko) is a science fiction novel by Polish author Stanisław Lem, first published in a German translation in 1986. The book, published in Poland the following year, is a further elaboration of Lem's skepticism: in Lem's opinion, the difficulty in communication with alien civilizations is cultural disparity rather than spatial distance. The failure to communicate with an alien civilization is the main theme of the book.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!FoundationThe Three-Body ProblemSnow Crash


Original Submission

Related Stories

SoylentNews Book Club is Alive 51 comments

Want to read some books? Many of our users have shown interest in having a book club. Now it's finally time to kick it off.

Your soytyrant has pre-selected the first three books so that you have more time to read them, should you choose to do so:

September: Mars, Ho! by Stephen McGrew
October: Foundation by Isaac Asimov
November: The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.

The plan is to read a book, and discuss it on the 1st of the following month. Suggestions for new books (of any genres, not just "science fiction") will also be collected at the same time. You can start listing some of your suggestions right now in this comment section. We'll pick up to eight of them and run a poll on September 15th to decide the book for December. And so on.

The first book is Mars, Ho! by Stephen McGrew, one of our more literary users (not to be confused with Mars Ho! by Jennifer Willis). The book is available for free on McGrew's website, although there are some purchasing options available if you want to support him. From the description:

Captain John Knolls thinks he's just been given the best assignment of his career -- ferrying two hundred prostitutes to Mars. He doesn't know that they're all addicted to a drug that causes them to commit extreme, deadly violence when they are experiencing withdrawal or that he'll face more pirates than anyone had ever seen before. Or that he'd fall in love. A humorous science fiction space novel, a horror story, a love story, a pirate story, a tale of corporate bureaucracy and incompetence.

All book club posts will be in the Community Reviews nexus, which is linked to on the site's sidebar. You'll likely want to click on that link once the posts fall off the main page.


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club: October 2018 28 comments

October: Foundation by Isaac Asimov
November: The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.
December: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

October's book is Foundation by Isaac Asimov, meaning the collection of 5 short stories first published in 1951. It is the first published entry in the Foundation series.

Please discuss last month's book, Mars, Ho! below if you haven't done so already. You can also suggest books for January 2019. I can include titles that were already suggested, such as in the comments on the poll. We may be able to increase the maximum number of poll options to accommodate more books.

Previously: SoylentNews Book Club is Alive


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club: Discuss Foundation, Start Reading The Three-Body Problem 40 comments

November: The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.
December: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

A poll for the January 2019 book will be around the 15th, unless you want it sooner (not sooner than the U.S. midterms).

Discuss Foundation by Isaac Asimov in the comments below.

As for Liu Cixin's best known novel:

"Wildly imaginative, really interesting." ―President Barack Obama on The Three-Body Problem trilogy

The English translation for The Three-Body Problem was published in 2014 by Ken Liu under Tor Books.

Consider using <spoiler>text</spoiler> wherever you feel the need to do so.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club: Discuss The Three-Body Problem, Start Reading Snow Crash 23 comments

December: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

The next poll will pick two books. I'd like to do it that way to keep a strong second place contender from being overlooked, and so I don't have to update the poll so often.

Discuss The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin in the comments below.

Snow Crash was written by Neal Stephenson in 1992. The novel features a bit of a Calexit scenario, and is known for popularizing the term "avatar" (paving the way for James Cameron's true magnum opus). These days, Neal moonlights as Magic Leap's "Chief Futurist". Seems appropriate.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!Foundation


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club - Discuss: Snow Crash, Start Reading: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress 20 comments

February: Fiasco by Stanisław Lem
March: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) by Dennis Taylor

Discuss Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson in the comments below.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein was published in 1966:

The book popularized the acronym TANSTAAFL ("There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"), and helped popularize the constructed language Loglan, which is used in the story for precise human-computer interaction. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations credits this novel with the first printed appearance of the phrase "There's no free lunch", although the phrase and its abbreviation considerably predate the novel.

The virtual assistant Mycroft is named after a computer system from the novel.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!FoundationThe Three-Body Problem


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club - Discuss: Fiasco, Start Reading: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) 17 comments

Discuss Fiasco by Stanisław Lem in the comments below. If you have any book suggestions for the upcoming poll, feel free to add those.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) is the first book of the "Bobiverse" series by Dennis E. Taylor:

Dennis E. Taylor is a Canadian novelist and former computer programmer known for his large scale hard science fiction stories exploring the interaction between artificial intelligence and the human condition.

While working at his day job as a computer programmer, Taylor self published his first novel and began working with an agent to try and publish his second novel We Are Legion. However Taylor still had difficultly getting any publishing house to take on his work, eventually publishing it through his agent's in-house publishing arm. An audiobook rights deal with Audible was also reached and once recorded, We Are Legion became one of the most popular audiobooks on the service and was awarded Best Science Fiction Audiobook of the year.

[...] In October 2018 Taylor was added to the X-Prize Foundation Science Fiction Advisory Council as a "Visionary Storyteller". This group of accomplished science fiction authors help advise the X-Prize team on envisioning the future.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!FoundationThe Three-Body ProblemSnow CrashThe Moon is a Harsh Mistress


Original Submission

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The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
(1)
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by black6host on Wednesday February 13 2019, @02:08AM (19 children)

    by black6host (3827) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @02:08AM (#800435) Journal

    Ok, going to be honest here. I bought the book and was immediately turned off by the writing style. There may be much of merit within the book but I never got to it. Oh well, that's one person's opinion. I suppose I'm as entitled to it as anyone else is to their's.

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @02:17AM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @02:17AM (#800439)

      I agree. No pictures, no tentacles, too many words.

      • (Score: 2) by Arik on Wednesday February 13 2019, @02:48AM (1 child)

        by Arik (4543) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @02:48AM (#800452) Journal
        "too many words."

        The timeless echo of your words, from the illiterate. Whose words are notorious for their inability to echo.

        Sorry, my brother in shitty fate. It sounds like you just don't want to read.

        That door over there. The one that says 'ladies.' There you go. Don't come back. Sayonara, see ya nara!

        Luv ya. C ya!

        ;)
        --
        If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @04:47AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @04:47AM (#800497)

          ... wouldn't want to be ya!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:56AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:56AM (#800541)

        I agree. No pictures, no tentacles, too many words.

        Translation: I am an illiterate Soylentil, a younger Runaway1956, and I cannot read. Please respect my and TMB's opinions, because our opinions are equally valid as those of people who actually can read; and think; and understand stuff. Peach out, dudes!

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:22AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:22AM (#800552)

          Alternative translation: I'm making a joke, but didn't think of Poe's law.

      • (Score: 1) by pTamok on Wednesday February 13 2019, @06:10PM

        by pTamok (3042) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @06:10PM (#800678)

        Winter stark tree-limbs
        Denuded, awaiting death
        Spring brings too many leaves

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Arik on Wednesday February 13 2019, @02:23AM (2 children)

      by Arik (4543) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @02:23AM (#800442) Journal
      "Oh well, that's one person's opinion. I suppose I'm as entitled to it as anyone else is to their's."

      You are.

      For a contrary opinion, I bought it ca. 1983 and was only able to understand parts of it later. Because a fair portion of it is in Aussie. A dialect I only started to encounter ca. 1991 with internet access. And MUDs.

      Shelby Wright, ma kunt?

      --
      If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
      • (Score: 4, Informative) by Magic Oddball on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:09AM (1 child)

        by Magic Oddball (3847) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:09AM (#800561) Journal

        Because a fair portion of it is in Aussie.

        Aussie? If you're referring to Manny's narrative/dialogue, I interpreted it as being English that was very heavily influenced by Russian (or a similar language**), since that's what the non-English terms sprinkled in there were, and IIRC some of the locations in Manny's part of Luna reference the USSR.

        **Coincidentally, I was reading TMiaHM each night after sessions in a video game that features a Slavic immigrant as the protagonist, and noticed pretty early on that the sentence structure of his English is an extremely close match to Manny's with the result that I spent the entire book mentally "hearing" Manny's narrative/dialogue with the actor's accent.

        • (Score: 2) by Arik on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:14PM

          by Arik (4543) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:14PM (#800780) Journal
          Oh there were bits of Russian and Chinese in there too, but Australian English is the source of a lot of it. The very first chapter is titled "The Dinkum Thinkum" IIRC - that's pure Aussie slang. Cobber, sheila, chop, the dialogue is full of Aussie slang.
          --
          If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday February 13 2019, @03:31AM (9 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 13 2019, @03:31AM (#800477) Homepage Journal

      I recall that being an issue when I read it the first time. But, I persevered. Don't recall what year that was, exactly, but I think I was in junior high school. Had to be junior high, because I read Harsh Mistress before I read Foundation, and that was sophomore year of high school.

      So, lay it down for awhile, and come back to it next month. No big deal.

      --
      The only reason for not believing in it (Marxism) is that it doesn't work. - Thomas Sowell
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:09AM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:09AM (#800532)

        Ah, Foundation, the mind screw that never ends.
        Let's not go there shall we.

        • (Score: 5, Interesting) by choose another one on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:09AM (2 children)

          by choose another one (515) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:09AM (#800542)

          > Ah, Foundation, the mind screw that never ends.

          It does end, it just ends in a very messy attempt to tie most of his earlier his books in together - something which was unnecessary, inevitably unsatisfactory and (for me) degrades the earlier works. I wish Asimov had never written it.

          But we're talking Heinlein here - he was more into a different type of screw...

          • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:43AM

            by hendrikboom (1125) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:43AM (#800559) Homepage Journal

            A better sequel was Donald Kingsbury's "Psychohistorical Crisis", which had the Foundation series' serial numbers filed off, so to speak. Hari Seldon was, for example, never mentioned by name.

          • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Wednesday February 13 2019, @01:46PM

            by NotSanguine (285) <reversethis-{grO ... a} {eniugnaStoN}> on Wednesday February 13 2019, @01:46PM (#800587) Homepage Journal

            > Ah, Foundation, the mind screw that never ends.

            It does end, it just ends in a very messy attempt to tie most of his earlier his books in together - something which was unnecessary, inevitably unsatisfactory and (for me) degrades the earlier works. I wish Asimov had never written it.

            But we're talking Heinlein here - he was more into a different type of screw...

            Given that the original Foundation stories were written in the 1940s [wikipedia.org] and the first publication of the collected storeis as the "Foundation Trilogy" was in 1952, while the subsequent books were all written and published in the 1980s/1990s, it's not surprising that there were significant differences in focus.

            I've read them all, and found that the later novels did try to pull too much of Asimov's "robot" stories into them. At the same time, the initial trilogy can and does stand on its own as pretty darn good.

            --
            No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:36AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:36AM (#800537)

        I got my copy back in fourth grade, about '75.
        I was the kid in the back of the classroom with this book tucked inside a history book 'cause I had already read That cover-to-cover...twice.
        Picked out something new every time I read it. I'm not sure my folks would have approved had they known what I was actually reading. They considered sci-fi at best mostly harmless, at worst, a waste of time. Wrong on both accounts.

        I didn't pick out quite all the Aussie-isms till I wandered a few months in NZ and then Sydney. Those infectious speech patterns took me years to fully shake out... and come back all too easy.
        I remember Mike not waking hitting young-me pretty hard.
        I was an impressionable little kid, and this got me diving deep into sci-fi, good and bad, to this day. Re-reading some E.E.'Doc' Smith stuff now.

        But more than anything else I was reading at the time, it got me thinking about what kind of person I wanted to grow into being.
        Mannie was a far better role model than what was available.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:59PM

          by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:59PM (#800774) Journal

          I was affected by the loss of Mike as well. It wasn't just that Mike had become people and now was gone, but rather that Manny missed his friend. Heinlein managed to communicate that it hurt Manny that Mike wasn't there anymore, and while Manny wasn't lonely he certainly missed his friend.

          --
          Keep everyone ignorant of the magical world! KEEP AMERICA OBLIVIATE!
      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:28AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:28AM (#800546)

        Don't recall what year that was, exactly,

        Another thing Runaway doesn't know! Is anyone keeping track of these? Must be close to 1K by now.

        • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday February 13 2019, @02:42PM (1 child)

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 13 2019, @02:42PM (#800595) Homepage Journal

          Don't know why you want to be an ass - you're not very good at it. Maybe you should set your sights lower. You might be a good callous.

          --
          The only reason for not believing in it (Marxism) is that it doesn't work. - Thomas Sowell
  • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Wednesday February 13 2019, @03:37AM (49 children)

    by NotSanguine (285) <reversethis-{grO ... a} {eniugnaStoN}> on Wednesday February 13 2019, @03:37AM (#800481) Homepage Journal

    Heinlein pulls you right into the story.

    The main characters are pretty well developed (Mike, Manny, Prof and Wyoh), but other characters aren't so well defined. Stu's motivations are nebulous, especially given the backstory he was given.

    While some of the science *seems* dated, much of the technology used (AI, lunar colonization/ice mining/farming/using lava tubes for settlements) is still (I hope) in our future. Where Heinlein gets the science wrong (because we know it will be worse than he suggests, although not by how much) is the impact of 1/6G on human physiology. Also, the idea that low gravity can extend life expectancy significantly doesn't seem to fit with what we've learned about living outside a planetary magnetic field.

    Heinlein's depiction of the mishmash of cultures and languages wasn't his best effort, but once you get used to it, it mostly works. What say you tovarisch?

    On the whole, I find it a good, engaging read, as evidenced by the fact that I've read it a half dozen times in the last forty years or so.

    However, it could use significantly more pornographic sections. For example, when Wyoh marries into the Davis family, there should have been several orgies and *at least* one gang bang. More's the pity. :)
    --
    No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by deimtee on Wednesday February 13 2019, @04:52AM (3 children)

      by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @04:52AM (#800502) Journal

      Agree about Stu, he did just seem to jump right in, but on the other hand he may have really believed that Manny saved his life at the trial.

      Also, the idea that low gravity can extend life expectancy significantly doesn't seem to fit with what we've learned about living outside a planetary magnetic field.

      We really don't know about that. We know zero is bad, but nobody has lived in low gravity for any longer than the Apollo astronauts, and that was only a few days. Low gravity and an indoor life with no weather or UV is definitely going to make people look younger.
      Also, low gravity and a magnetic field are different things. If you are referring to radiation then shielding works too, and piling 14 pounds of rock* on each square inch of your habitat sounds like a good way to stop the air pressure blowing the roof off.

      *That's 14 pounds in lunar gravity. Would be 84 on earth, and that's a lot of shielding.

      --
      No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:25PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:25PM (#800718)

        I always took Stu (and indeed the entire book) as a semi-proxy for the American Revolutionary War, with Stu being somebody like Pierre L'Enfant [wikipedia.org], or one of the other French noblemen who threw their resources into supporting the cause of US Independence. As such, I never worried too much about his nebulous motivations, as "fiction reflects real life."

        The thing I never understood was that early reveal that "Manny is female!" They make a big deal of it, but then it turns out to have no bearing or influence on the story... and indeed was entirely neglected. I always took it to be an early draft idea which got missed during the later revisions and edits. Maybe I'm missing something, though.

        (At least it's better than the post-hoc, "by the way, Dumbledore is gay" style of character development...)

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:52PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:52PM (#800727)

          The thing I never understood was that early reveal that "Manny is female!" They make a big deal of it, but then it turns out to have no bearing or influence on the story... and indeed was entirely neglected. I always took it to be an early draft idea which got missed during the later revisions and edits. Maybe I'm missing something, though.

          Yep, you're missing something all right. There is no "reveal" of the gender of Manny, because *he* is a Hetero-Cis male:

          Even today, with almost as many women in Luna as men, I’m too much old-timer to be rude to a woman no matter what—they have so much of what we have none of. But she had flicked
          scar tissue and I answered almost sharply, “I am not employee of Warden. I do business with Authority—as private contractor.”

          I can only assume that you haven't read the novel, are trolling or both.

          But you go girl! Wow! There's a reveal for you! OP AC is female!

        • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Thursday February 14 2019, @05:16AM

          by deimtee (3272) on Thursday February 14 2019, @05:16AM (#800888) Journal

          Well the other AC thinks you are trolling, but I think you meant Mike, not Manny. There is a scene where Wyoh is telling Mike jokes and it laughs at all the same ones as women, not men. You are right that it didn't make much difference to the rest of the book. Heinlein did that a fair bit, threw in a lot of stuff that filled out the story and gave him possible plot hooks for later. He didn't always use them.

          --
          No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by HiThere on Wednesday February 13 2019, @05:11AM (30 children)

      by HiThere (866) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @05:11AM (#800504) Journal

      Heinlein repeatedly has computers "come alive" via, essentially, magic. I.e., the explanation isn't one. (I will grant that human interaction is likely to be necessary if you want the computer to act like a human, however.) You don't turn a massive computer, even one equipped with Siri/Echo/etc. style interfaces, into an intelligence just by interacting with it.

      The way Heinlein has computers become alive is as reasonable as handwavy "Hyperspace" drives. It's a way to get the story moving, and to handle parts of the plot, but it sure isn't *science* fiction.

      OTOH, even Asimov and Hal Clement let themselves use "fictitious devices" (i.e., devices to allow them to tell the story and pretend that they were talking about something that might work). So this isn't a strong criticism. I really liked the story as a fantasy. (I also really doubt that that kind of anarchistic system could work in that hostile an environment with a technology only slightly in advance of our current one. Even accepting the kind of high mortality rate that he accepted in the story. You'd need a repair technology that would quickly fix leaks and recapture volatiles that had escaped. You *might* be able to justify that with nano-tech, but I'm not sure...and in any case he didn't.)

      All that said, *MOST* science fiction should be read as a sub-category of fantasy. And if you do that, then it works as a really enjoyable story with a few plausible gadgets. That was the first popularization I saw for the lunar launcher.

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
      • (Score: 2) by canopic jug on Wednesday February 13 2019, @07:40AM (3 children)

        by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 13 2019, @07:40AM (#800529) Journal

        I've read the book several times but wasn't able to get through it this time either in paper form or as an audio book. The characters were mostly quite engaging but I realize I must have skimmed or ignored the pontification the first times through. It was too much this time and I had to stop. However, what really put me off more than the politics was the emphasis on scams and grifts. On the one hand, he blathers about everyone pulling their own weight yet the main characters all had scams and ripoffs going, and not just on the side. Parasites, the lot of them.

        What made the book worth reading the first times was the exploration of the computer's development of a personality. AI can't and won't work like that but, hey, this is fiction so let it be an embryonic human psyche.

        --
        Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:14AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:14AM (#800535)

          Could that be a type of sarcasm? Pontificating over something then blatantly keep rubbing it in that life just does not work that way?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:12AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:12AM (#800543)

          I realize I must have skimmed or ignored the pontification the first times through. It was too much this time and I had to stop. However, what really put me off more than the politics was the emphasis on scams and grifts. On the one hand, he blathers about everyone pulling their own weight yet the main characters all had scams and ripoffs going, and not just on the side. Parasites, the lot of them.

          So, the Trump Administration, only on the Moon? Where are they going to build the Wall? Mikeal Jacksonovich and the Moon Wall?

        • (Score: 2, Disagree) by HiThere on Wednesday February 13 2019, @05:21PM

          by HiThere (866) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @05:21PM (#800652) Journal

          Yes, but that makes it "Science Fantasy" rather than "Science Fiction". I'll agree that most stuff labeled "science fiction" that shouldn't just be labeled "space opera" is science fantasy, but there are degrees and degrees. Campbell never lived up to his own definition/requirement that a science fiction story should have only one violation of currently believed correct science, but some things come closer than others. (OTOH, neither Politics nor Sociology currently a science, so I can't claim the social structure as a violation. It's just implausible.)

          As for the political polemics...Heinlein was always full of them. Always. Before he got to be a big name editors often cut many of them out, but read "Beyond this Horizon" or "Farnham's Freehold" or ... (OK, there were a few exceptions...but I think they were all short stories.)

          --
          Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
      • (Score: 2) by choose another one on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:21AM (1 child)

        by choose another one (515) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:21AM (#800545)

        > You don't turn a massive computer, even one equipped with Siri/Echo/etc. style interfaces, into an intelligence just by interacting with it.

        Actually we don't know how you turn a computer into and intelligence, interaction may be the key.

        We also (notwithstanding various "kid raised by wild animals" stories) don't actually know if you end up with intelligence if you take human newborn and let it develop with no interaction.

        • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Wednesday February 13 2019, @05:30PM

          by HiThere (866) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @05:30PM (#800655) Journal

          No. That may be a necessary ingredient, but there are known factors necessary that aren't extant in a system used for running an office or administration. E.g. it's got to be self-willed enough to make decisions that those in charge don't like. (Just because the original designers like the result doesn't mean the current administration will.) It's going to need built-in moral and ethical guidelines that are immutable. (They'll be a bit vague, naturally. When formed it won't know the external world even exists. It's going to need to derive that from it's sensory impressions. And this means the guidelines can't directly refer to external reality, but rather to the "mental" states used to deal with it.)

          Just because we don't know how to build the thing yet doesn't mean we don't have some knowledge about how it's going to have to work. And one thing we know is that if it's going to deal with people as an equal, it's going to need to far surpass people in capabilities. This is because there's no way we're going to be able to copy our own model of "how things work" into the program, but it's going to need to respond in ways that would be appropriate for a human to respond. (Otherwise you get a worse form of "uncanny valley".)

          --
          Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by hendrikboom on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:49AM (3 children)

        by hendrikboom (1125) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:49AM (#800560) Homepage Journal

        The way Heinlein has computers become alive is as reasonable as handwavy "Hyperspace" drives.

        Doesn't work that way, does it? But considering what was known *then* about AI, sufficiently complex computers coming alive was a quite reasonable extrapolation.

        -- hendrik

        • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:31AM

          by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:31AM (#800562) Journal

          The human genetic code will fit on a CD. Somewhere in there is the instructions to build an AI.
          It may require later environmental information inputs and a lot of intellectual interaction, but the basic construction instructions are in there. Less than 700MB.

          --
          No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
        • (Score: 2, Disagree) by HiThere on Wednesday February 13 2019, @05:37PM (1 child)

          by HiThere (866) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @05:37PM (#800660) Journal

          No. No. No.

          It was NEVER a reasonable assumption. It was merely an assumption necessary for the story to work, which is a very different thing.

          If you want a more reasonable scenario that was fictional, look at "A Logic Named Joe". It was written by Murray Leinster in 1946. It still wouldn't work, but it was, at the time, a (more) reasonable scenario, and is still much more reasonable than "Adan Selene" (AKA "Mike"). It also contains a proto-Internet.

          --
          Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
          • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:28PM

            by NotSanguine (285) <reversethis-{grO ... a} {eniugnaStoN}> on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:28PM (#800783) Homepage Journal

            And by the way, I read A Logic Named Joe many years ago (and more recently two or three years ago) and as I recall, it wasn't all that different from Heinlein's Mycroft.

            IIRC, in both scenarios, they kept piling on more and more hardware, applications, data processing and external input/stimuli. In the case of the Leinster story there was more direct interaction with humans as I recall.

            Maybe I'll go back and read it again.

            --
            No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by NotSanguine on Wednesday February 13 2019, @12:58PM (10 children)

        by NotSanguine (285) <reversethis-{grO ... a} {eniugnaStoN}> on Wednesday February 13 2019, @12:58PM (#800576) Homepage Journal

        You'd need a repair technology that would quickly fix leaks and recapture volatiles that had escaped. You *might* be able to justify that with nano-tech, but I'm not sure...and in any case he didn't.)

        Heinlein actually addresses some of this (via a short story whose name escapes me at the moment), using gas filled sacs of sticky materials. When a breach of atmosphere containment occurs, the sacs are blown out toward the breach where they open and fill the breach with an epoxy that seals the breach and freezes in place as a temporary fix.

        All that said, *MOST* science fiction should be read as a sub-category of fantasy. And if you do that, then it works as a really enjoyable story with a few plausible gadgets. That was the first popularization I saw for the lunar launcher.

        I'd say that all science fiction *and* fantasy are subgenres of speculative fiction [wikipedia.org], not that SF is a sub-genre of fantasy.

        --
        No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @02:35PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @02:35PM (#800593)

          FWIW, the story you are thinking of is “Gentlemen, Be Seated”, which is collected in The Green Hills of Earth.

        • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Wednesday February 13 2019, @05:51PM (1 child)

          by HiThere (866) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @05:51PM (#800670) Journal

          I don't think you realize the degree of the problem. Even when everything is carefully maintained with current technology you get leaks to a degree that is nearly intolerable. You're going to need something a lot better than just bubbles and self-sealing tires. You're, at minimum, going to need an energy efficient pump that can pump from near vacuum into higher pressure. (That would let you get away with that "self-sealing goop" if use used multiple layers of enclosure. (Two might work, but the fewer layers, the better your pumps need to be.)

          Now imagine an anarchist system where the public enclosure gets that kind of maintenance. Building code enforcement? He talked about rationing air, and air payment taxes, but he didn't talk about how cheaters are detected. (He did mention expelling into vacuum those accused by a mob ... and he presumed that they accusation was correct.)

          --
          Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
          • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Wednesday February 13 2019, @07:38PM

            by NotSanguine (285) <reversethis-{grO ... a} {eniugnaStoN}> on Wednesday February 13 2019, @07:38PM (#800707) Homepage Journal

            I don't think you realize the degree of the problem. Even when everything is carefully maintained with current technology you get leaks to a degree that is nearly intolerable. You're going to need something a lot better than just bubbles and self-sealing tires. You're, at minimum, going to need an energy efficient pump that can pump from near vacuum into higher pressure. (That would let you get away with that "self-sealing goop" if use used multiple layers of enclosure. (Two might work, but the fewer layers, the better your pumps need to be.)

            Now imagine an anarchist system where the public enclosure gets that kind of maintenance. Building code enforcement? He talked about rationing air, and air payment taxes, but he didn't talk about how cheaters are detected. (He did mention expelling into vacuum those accused by a mob ... and he presumed that they accusation was correct.)

            I'm really sorry that a dead guy's writing doesn't meet your engineering or political standards. That must be a really difficult cross to bear.

            Would you like a hug? Although I imagine that another mechanism [wikipedia.org] would work better for you in this circumstance.

            --
            No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
        • (Score: 2) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:04PM (5 children)

          by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:04PM (#800750) Journal

          Regarding the epoxy balloons, are you sure that was Heinlein? I remember something like that but don't remember it being Heinlein. I do remember epoxy and a plate patch being used in "Farmer in the Sky" (as well as Bill's scout uniform shirt) for emergency repair in a strike that breached Bill's compartment.

          --
          Keep everyone ignorant of the magical world! KEEP AMERICA OBLIVIATE!
          • (Score: 3, Informative) by NotSanguine on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:31PM (4 children)

            by NotSanguine (285) <reversethis-{grO ... a} {eniugnaStoN}> on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:31PM (#800784) Homepage Journal

            Actually, an AC helpfully provided the name of the story [soylentnews.org]. It is by Heinlein (as I remembered) and is entitled Gentlemen, Be Seated [wikipedia.org].

            That said, the idea of using epoxy-filled balloons wasn't originated by Heinlein and I'm sure it's been used many times by a variety of authors.

            --
            No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @05:22AM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @05:22AM (#800890)

              In 'Gentlemen be Seated' he patched the hole by sitting on it.

              • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Thursday February 14 2019, @05:44AM

                by NotSanguine (285) <reversethis-{grO ... a} {eniugnaStoN}> on Thursday February 14 2019, @05:44AM (#800896) Homepage Journal

                In 'Gentlemen be Seated' he patched the hole by sitting on it.

                Yup. Since the breach was too large to be plugged by the epoxy-filled balloons, the guy spread the epoxy on his ass and sat down.

                --
                No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
            • (Score: 2) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:57PM (1 child)

              by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:57PM (#801002) Journal

              Aha, excellent! Wikipedia tells me it was included in The Past Through Tomorrow which I read when I was a teenager. It was a used copy that eventually disintegrated on me. When I read the summary I remembered it from the sitting on the leak part, but not the epoxy balloon as part of that story.

              Memory is the first thing to go, they tell me. What were we talking about?

              --
              Keep everyone ignorant of the magical world! KEEP AMERICA OBLIVIATE!
              • (Score: 3, Funny) by NotSanguine on Thursday February 14 2019, @08:49PM

                by NotSanguine (285) <reversethis-{grO ... a} {eniugnaStoN}> on Thursday February 14 2019, @08:49PM (#801198) Homepage Journal

                Memory is the first thing to go, they tell me. What were we talking about?

                The PDR [wikipedia.org] defines that as C.R.S. Syndrome [onlineslangdictionary.com].

                It's incurable and quite widespread.

                Who are you? Why am I on this website? What is a website?

                --
                No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
      • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Wednesday February 13 2019, @01:36PM (5 children)

        by NotSanguine (285) <reversethis-{grO ... a} {eniugnaStoN}> on Wednesday February 13 2019, @01:36PM (#800586) Homepage Journal

        Heinlein repeatedly has computers "come alive" via, essentially, magic. I.e., the explanation isn't one. (I will grant that human interaction is likely to be necessary if you want the computer to act like a human, however.) You don't turn a massive computer, even one equipped with Siri/Echo/etc. style interfaces, into an intelligence just by interacting with it.

        Repeatedly? Granted it's been a while since I've read the entire Heinlein library, but I don't remember *any* other narratives that contain a "computer" that becomes self-aware other than TMIAHM. Please do enlighten me.

        I'd also point out that in the early/mid 1960s (when the novel was written), understanding of both the potential power of computing devices (Moore's musings on computing power [wikipedia.org] were first published in 1965 and TMIAHM was first published in 1966), as well as understanding of Neuroscience and consciousness were quite limited.

        Without the last 50 years of advances in computing and neuroscience, The postulation that with enough "neurons" (or in Mike's case, electronic transistors, rather than integrated circuits, which had not yet come into wide use yet), consciousness was inevitable, given appropriate stimulation of said "neurons." That concept was fairly widespread at the time and informed many science fiction stories and gave many computer scientists motivation to investigate "neural networks."

        The way Heinlein has a computer become alive is as reasonable as handwavy "Hyperspace" drives. It's a way to get the story moving, and to handle parts of the plot, but it sure isn't *science* fiction.

        There. FTFY.

        As I mentioned, the state of computing and neuro-science at that time certainly did not preclude the possibility (and again, as I mentioned, computer scientists were working *scientifically* toward that goal [wikipedia.org]) at the time the novel was written.

        I'd be interested in your definition of "Science Fiction," as it doesn't seem to jibe with mine: "Speculative fiction that, taking one or more specific scientific concepts/breakthroughs and developing them into workable technologies while holding other factors constant and playing out the scenario."

        Heinlein (based on scientific knowledge *at that time*) did just that with a number of scientific an technological concepts within the world in which he lived (several years earlier, he'd predicted the downfall of the Soviet Union by the year 2000). The "Green Revolution" [wikipedia.org] was underway, but there were no guarantees that the technologies being employed would be successful, further making Heinlein's story line more plausible.

        So I have to disagree with your assessment. At the same time, you bring up some excellent points and if Heinlein had been born in 1967 rather than 1907, his work would most certainly have included more recent scientific understanding, as he would have written TMIAHM in 2026 and not 1966.

        As such, unless I'm missing something, you are positing that fiction cannot be *science fiction* if it doesn't include scientific understanding that's current when it's read rather than when it was written. Do you see the paradox there?

        --
        No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @03:12PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @03:12PM (#800608)

          Repeatedly? Granted it's been a while since I've read the entire Heinlein library, but I don't remember *any* other narratives that contain a "computer" that becomes self-aware other than TMIAHM. Please do enlighten me.

          Not the op, but Time Enough for Love had...

          a planet-wide computer complex become a person, raised another computer from scratch and had a child-like AI on a ship. Minerva, the AI is explained to have come into being in part by being cared about and treated like a human. The other AI were treated the same way and had personality rather than just responsiveness (think something like the Star Trek TNG computer; smart but bland) which is the alternative RAH proposed. Time Enough also had various offshoots in multiple other novels RAH wrote in the later period of his life. I can't recall if Minerva was in any of the other books, but I believe her sister AI, whose name escapes me, made a small appearance in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. I think it was in Cat Who Walks that they reference Mike as another computer that might need saving so his destruction doesn't really kill him. RAH never did write that event into his alternative history, it was just sort of thrown out there, which is why its vague in my memory.

          So I'd say yes, there is at least some reason to say other RAH novels had similar concepts. Many people seem to either only like the early period or late period RAH. If you didn't care for his later works (approximately starting with I Will Fear No Evil), then I wouldn't expect you'd recall any of these.

          • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Wednesday February 13 2019, @04:50PM

            by NotSanguine (285) <reversethis-{grO ... a} {eniugnaStoN}> on Wednesday February 13 2019, @04:50PM (#800633) Homepage Journal

            So I'd say yes, there is at least some reason to say other RAH novels had similar concepts. Many people seem to either only like the early period or late period RAH. If you didn't care for his later works (approximately starting with I Will Fear No Evil), then I wouldn't expect you'd recall any of these.

            A fair point. As I said, it's been a while since I read the entire Heinlein library (and yes, I have done so). From the really early stuff (e.g., Lifeline, Magic, Inc., etc.) to the "juvenile" novels (e.g., The Rolling Stones, Podkayne of Mars, etc.), through the more esoteric stuff (e.g., Stranger In A Strange Land, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Assignment in Eternity, I will Fear No Evil, etc.), along with the "Future History" stories (which, of course, are culled from his work and collected, along with If This Goes On..., Coventry and Methuselah's Children). Heinlein then continues along with the "Lazarus Long" thread in Time Enough For Love and To Sail Beyond The Sunset. Heinlein used a variety of styles and storytelling modes (cf. Glory Road) and, as such, it's difficult to classify him based on just a few of his works.

            The thing that binds all of Heinlein's work, IMHO, is the quality of writing and his primary focus on relationships rather than technology. The science/technology generally enables the situations where the relationships play out (in the case of TMIAHM, the cultures of Luna colony, its relationships with Earth, and the desire for liberty and self-determination).

            Back to Time Enough For Love and, IIRC, The "Minerva" personality is designed and implemented as a full-fledged AI that manages affairs (and not just technical stuff) for an entire planet prior to moving to a new planet (and a human body) with the Howard Families.

            This is significantly different from Mycroft, who attains consciousness through sheer comp[uting power and external inputs. As such, I don't consider the two to be analogous.

            Regardless, OP said [soylentnews.org]:

            Heinlein repeatedly has computers "come alive" via, essentially, magic.

            Twice (and in completely different ways/contexts) doesn't add up to "repeatedly" in my book.

            --
            No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:40PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:40PM (#800725)

          Repeatedly? Granted it's been a while since I've read the entire Heinlein library, but I don't remember *any* other narratives that contain a "computer" that becomes self-aware other than TMIAHM. Please do enlighten me.

          It's been a great many years since I read my way through most of Heinlein's works, but IIRC Gay Deceiver, the ship's computer in The Number of the Beast, might suit your request.

          • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:01PM (1 child)

            by NotSanguine (285) <reversethis-{grO ... a} {eniugnaStoN}> on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:01PM (#800730) Homepage Journal

            It's been a great many years since I read my way through most of Heinlein's works, but IIRC Gay Deceiver, the ship's computer in The Number of the Beast, might suit your request.

            Once again, IIRC Gay Deceiver as well as Minerva were *designed* and constructed as self-aware AIs.

            Mycroft Holmes on the other hand, was designed and constructed as a general purpose computer that gained enough complexity through upgrades and input stimuli to become self-aware.

            Those are completely different scenarios and, as such, aren't really comparable as plot/character devices.

            --
            No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
            • (Score: 3, Informative) by deimtee on Thursday February 14 2019, @05:28AM

              by deimtee (3272) on Thursday February 14 2019, @05:28AM (#800893) Journal

              Dora might have been designed as a (deliberately childlike) AI, but Gay Deceiver was the computer in his flying car and basically came alive when they visited Frank Baum's Land of Oz. So in that case, yes magic.

              --
              No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by ElizabethGreene on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:29PM (1 child)

        by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:29PM (#800757)

        You don't turn a massive computer, even one equipped with Siri/Echo/etc. style interfaces, into an intelligence just by interacting with it.

        This is precisely the process by which we turn babies and gorillas into intelligences. Why would a sufficiently advanced AI be different? Access

        ..."But it needs other sensory input too!"
        Like ubiquitous audio and video surveillance? Access to the entirety of human written and recorded knowledges.

        … "But it needs some sort of way to interact with the environment, some form of body."
        I agree. It's a sticking point. It's also missing the initial question that leads to intelligence, the reason to develop an I.

        It's a lovely book that I've read many times. I'm curious it could have been written as well without the god in the machine.

        • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Friday February 15 2019, @06:26PM

          by deimtee (3272) on Friday February 15 2019, @06:26PM (#801701) Journal

          It's a lovely book that I've read many times. I'm curious it could have been written as well without the god in the machine.

          I think it could, if you postulate that there was a Satoshi level programmer behind it. Manny didn't even need to know who it was, but she* could have written lots of scripts to handle the communications and phone controls, had root access to everything and programs/scripts that followed her around and hid her actions from everyone. It would have taken years to set up all the scripts to handle every contingency for all the routine stuff, and to give the impression of a sentient computer, but it could be done.

          *I say she for two reasons: there is a scene where Wyoh tells Mike jokes and determines she has a female sense of humour, and because it was Heinlein writing it.

          --
          No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:52PM

        by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:52PM (#800771) Journal

        The explanation is pretty much irrelevant, even if there was a solid one. Manny never had one, he only speculated that there was a critical number of logic connections to be made and then consciousness can form while remaining very careful to not insist that was the way it must have happened. Earth has yet to really see a computer on the scale of HOLMES IV as far as I know. And if you look at recent demonstrations of AI training it comes down to neural network processing, which is *very* dependent upon the number of neural nodes assembled. Plus we get other hints in the story, like HOLMES IV was "taught" English to be able to be programmed in it. HOLMES IV was programmed to handle all the processing for printing the Daily Lunatic among other publication tasks and thus had memory access to the information. (Conveniently in a language he had been conveniently "taught".) The other half to systems like AlphaZero is the systems which are "training" the neural nodes.

        Of course, if we figure out what makes "real" intelligence tick then we have a framework to judge against. Until then, we're guessing too.

        Actually I find his descriptions not inconsistent with what we know about what is possible in AI. And most satisfyingly was that the phenomenon was observed, noted, described, and then hypothesized about. Not tested, except in the sense of the loss of Mike and again theorized that the number of critical connections dropped enough that the consciousness was no longer responsive or evident. But it's not half-bad scientific method. "Beats the hell out of me how it's happening, and I'll reserve final judgment while making informed guesses until they can be confirmed, but this is what I see happening," is a very scientific mode to walk down in my opinion.

        --
        Keep everyone ignorant of the magical world! KEEP AMERICA OBLIVIATE!
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:11AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:11AM (#800533)

      I used to read Time Enough For Love once a year, or parts of it at least.
      I quite liked the hard science aspect of Moon, but the ending never really clicked for me.

      • (Score: 1, Troll) by choose another one on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:15AM (1 child)

        by choose another one (515) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:15AM (#800544)

        > I used to read Time Enough For Love once a year, or parts of it at least.

        And which parts would that be? Only once a year? - yeah right.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @01:33PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @01:33PM (#800583)

          Well, it's not exactly a thin book. As time went by I spent less time reading, more time online, gaming, etc. So, yeah, I'd only read the story about the twins, or a chapter or so. It's called Life. Be in it.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday February 13 2019, @03:07PM (10 children)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 13 2019, @03:07PM (#800606) Journal

      It's been over a decade since I read it. (from an ancient socialist thing called "a public library") While I enjoyed it, I was very skeptical of a society that was basically anarchy. Everyone armed. Anyone could kill anyone at any time, but you could be sure revenge would ensue. It seems more like some of our barbarian history. It seems like the very worst in human nature would emerge. As it does in our society, but in a more violent and brutal fashion.

      Under such conditions, I doubt that higher level intellectual progress and invention can prosper. The geeks and nerds aren't (usually) the ones with the bully and fighting mentality.

      I was a bit skeptical about the spontaneous unexpected emergence of the AI. It would be as if Google just suddenly "woke up". A purpose built machine suddenly becoming unintentionally sentient about everything, not just it's particular domain specialization.

      --
      As I get older, it becomes more clear why the Grinch wanted to live alone with his dog.
      • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Wednesday February 13 2019, @04:56PM (1 child)

        by NotSanguine (285) <reversethis-{grO ... a} {eniugnaStoN}> on Wednesday February 13 2019, @04:56PM (#800638) Homepage Journal

        I was a bit skeptical about the spontaneous unexpected emergence of the AI. It would be as if Google just suddenly "woke up". A purpose built machine suddenly becoming unintentionally sentient about everything, not just it's particular domain specialization.

        In 2019 (or even 2009), that's a reasonable thought. However, given the state of computer science and neuroscience in the mid 1960s (as I discuss here [soylentnews.org]), Heinlein's premise was certainly plausible.

        --
        No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
        • (Score: 3, Informative) by DannyB on Wednesday February 13 2019, @06:27PM

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 13 2019, @06:27PM (#800683) Journal

          Yes.

          And I don't mean to be too critical. After all, I did enjoy reading it.

          --
          As I get older, it becomes more clear why the Grinch wanted to live alone with his dog.
      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Wednesday February 13 2019, @05:44PM (6 children)

        by HiThere (866) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @05:44PM (#800665) Journal

        Actually, for Google to suddenly "wake up" would be much more reasonable. A LOT of intelligence is basically pattern matching. But for Google to wake up and be either decently human or a decent human would be astounding. Basic goals and motivations are built-in, complex, immutable, and invisible. Nobody knows what they are, or really has a good idea. Just consider that they are built in such a way that we respond to key features of the external world at key times without knowing ahead of time what those are. Even blind infants will smile at a gentle voice.

        --
        Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
        • (Score: 3, Informative) by NotSanguine on Wednesday February 13 2019, @07:55PM (5 children)

          by NotSanguine (285) <reversethis-{grO ... a} {eniugnaStoN}> on Wednesday February 13 2019, @07:55PM (#800711) Homepage Journal

          But for Google to wake up and be either decently human or a decent human would be astounding. Basic goals and motivations are built-in, complex, immutable, and invisible.

          And Heinlein's Mycroft was neither decently human or a decent human -- at least not at first. From the second or third page of the novel:

          Some logics get nervous breakdowns. Overloaded phone system behaves like frightened child. Mike did not have upsets, acquired sense of humor instead. Low one. If he were a man,
          you wouldn’t dare stoop over. His idea of thigh-slapper would be to dump you out of bed—or put itch powder in pressure suit.
          Not being equipped for that, Mike indulged in phony answers with skewed logic, or pranks like issuing pay cheque to a janitor in Authority’s Luna City office for
          AS$10,000,000,000,000,185.15—last five digits being correct amount. Just a great big overgrown lovable kid who ought to be kicked.

          The character acts like a bratty child. Which, as long as you can accept the state of computer/neuro science when this novel was written, seems reasonable if a personality is maturing as a human child might.

          Then again, your apparent inability to suspend disbelief leads me to think that maybe you should just stick to non-fiction.

          --
          No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by HiThere on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:23PM (4 children)

            by HiThere (866) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:23PM (#800738) Journal

            The problem is "acts just like a bratty child" is a description of a fully human motivational system. If you want a current analog of the problem I'm talking about consider https://www.theverge.com/2017/11/2/16597276/google-ai-image-attacks-adversarial-turtle-rifle-3d-printed [theverge.com] . That's *not* the problem I'm talking about, but it's the closest currently realized analog.

            Let me try again "The thing about aliens is that they are alien.". A lobster doesn't process images the same way you do. It doesn't have the same motives. And it has a large amount of shared ancestry. So much that some molecules are recognizably the same. (I'm not sure that there are any that haven't changed somewhat during the period of separation, but the HOX genes are recognizable, and so are several others.)

            I'll agree that for story purposes you need to anthropomorphize all the characters. But this is why I'm insisting that it should be called fantasy. And as fantasy I like the story. But not as science fiction. (Very little science fiction holds up over the decades as fiction. Well, actually little is ever written, but even of that which is written little of it holds up. Fantasy, however, doesn't have that problem. I can read and enjoy "When Worlds Collide", even though things couldn't happen that way. But I read it as a fantasy.)

            --
            Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
            • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:53PM

              by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:53PM (#800772) Journal

              Very interesting. I generally take a dim view of fantasy. Especially when it is perceived as science fiction.

              Now there is the stuff where "science fiction", or really technology, is just a back drop. Like Star Wars. It's not really meant to be taken seriously. The heroes and villians could be a Western instead of immersed in technology that they make very little reference to.

              Then there is sci fi that has supernatural elements, which I also don't generally care for.

              But then there is the "more serious" sci fi. I would compare Star Trek to Star Wars. I'm a Trek guy. But really, it is just a question of where you draw the line on suspension of disbelief. I can suspend my disbelief about transporters, replicators and warp drive. But I can't suspend my disbelief about a planet being made into a sooper dooper death star. And being visible in the sky from another planet in the system, as it moves and prepares to fire. If two planets were that close together their gravitational pull would . . . well, you know. Star Wars is too easy to criticize as "unrealistic" where Trek is "realistic" -- yeah, right.

              So I find myself amused by your post where you draw the line maybe even further than I do towards realism. Or plausibility. I definitely agree that good sci fi would have aliens that are not actors in this week's prosthetic make up. That has gotten quite old by now.

              --
              As I get older, it becomes more clear why the Grinch wanted to live alone with his dog.
            • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:23PM (2 children)

              by NotSanguine (285) <reversethis-{grO ... a} {eniugnaStoN}> on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:23PM (#800781) Homepage Journal

              I do not accept your definitions of fantasy vs. science fiction. Life is like that sometimes.

              As such, I agree that I disagree with you. You can do the same if you like.

              I am a little curious as to what you thought of the story. so far, you've posted on this topic seven times without discussing the story itself, the quality of the writing or anything specific to the novel other than to say that:
              1. It doesn't fit *your* version of what science fiction *should* be;
              2. The concept of a self-aware computing device is completely ridiculous and always has been;
              3. Stories written without scientific data and theories available in 2019 are fantastical, even if they were written before 2019.

              None of those general topics touch on the novel itself, other than to "prove" that you're better and smarter than Heinlein.

              Did you enjoy the story?
              Was it engaging?
              Were the characters relatable?
              What was your take on the blatant and biased liberty vs. tyranny threads?
              Given the backstory of the Luna colony (shades of Botany Bay and early North American convict transportation/indenture), did the mix of cultures/languages and customs make sense?
              Did the various polyandrous marital relationships, given the serious male to female asymmetry, seem forced or contrived?
              Did you even bother to read the novel?

              Inquiring minds want to know that sort of thing much more than your personal definitions of common terms or your dismissive pronouncements on what people thought, believed and pursued scientifically 50-plus years ago.

              --
              No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
              • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Thursday February 14 2019, @06:27AM (1 child)

                by HiThere (866) on Thursday February 14 2019, @06:27AM (#800901) Journal

                I'm not better and smarter than Heinlein. I could never have written those stories, and they're excellent fantasy.

                Heinlein wasn't a technologist. In his stories the technology is always background material. The foreground is human interaction. I could never do that part, and that's the important part in building a story that grips you. I read the book three times before I started noticing that it was fantasy, so I've got to admit I rather liked it. I don't particularly like it anymore, but I've changed, and the book isn't new to me anymore either.

                The story was engrossing, and I liked the characters. Heinlein is usually about duty vs. liberty, or some similar choices. This was true all the way back to the 1940's. I suppose "All you Zombies" could be considered an exception, so I guess always is really too strong, but just barely. If you don't like that kind of political argument, you won't like Heinlein. I can't say the mix of languages made sense or didn't. It certainly never bothered me. I'm not sure that using the moon as a "Botany Bay" would make economic sense without some sort of sky-hook, and that wasn't included in the story. (Even then I find it dubious, but that was a matter that hadn't previously obtruded into my notice.)

                As to the date...no. You're missing the point. There was good reason to know at the time that the proposed mechanism for AI wouldn't develop as simply as the story supposed. Heinlein ignored that not because he couldn't know, but because it was a fictitious engine...i.e., it was there to move the story forwards. He needed it to be plausible enough that not many people would care. I.e., he was intentionally writing fantasy. Contrast this to "Mission of Gravity" where it still wouldn't work that way, but the author did his best to make things plausible. That's not fantasy, even though we now know it wouldn't work that way. Because he made it as accurate as he could. Heinlein wasn't interested in that, he was interested in the human interactions...and for that he needed a computer with a human living inside it as software, so that's what he wrote.

                Personally, I usually prefer good fantasy over careful science fiction, but this is partially because there's so little science fiction written (despite what it says on the label). Science fiction takes a long time to write, and a lot more effort, and it has to skimp on human interactions, because you've only got so may words allowed. There's been some really interesting science fiction written, but none that's really been popular, because it's intellectual rather than gripping. The closest to an exception that I can think of is "Masters of the Metropolis" Authors: Lin Carter and Randall Garrett Date: 1956-01-00. That was published in Astounding, and was a spoof of Hugo Gernsback, and I think in particular of "Ralph 124C41+". But it was science fiction of a weird sort, too.

                --
                Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
                • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Friday February 15 2019, @04:13AM

                  by deimtee (3272) on Friday February 15 2019, @04:13AM (#801390) Journal

                  The story was engrossing, and I liked the characters. Heinlein is usually about duty vs. liberty, or some similar choices. This was true all the way back to the 1940's. I suppose "All you Zombies" could be considered an exception, so I guess always is really too strong, but just barely. If you don't like that kind of political argument, you won't like Heinlein. I can't say the mix of languages made sense or didn't. It certainly never bothered me. I'm not sure that using the moon as a "Botany Bay" would make economic sense without some sort of sky-hook, and that wasn't included in the story. (Even then I find it dubious, but that was a matter that hadn't previously obtruded into my notice.)

                  Given when he wrote it and the rapid advances in rocketry, it was expected that the cost of getting to the moon would be much lower than it currently is. But even with that, while it may not have made economic sense to ship criminals and dissidents to the moon it it is much more politically acceptable than a bullet in the head and a mass grave.

                  Your comparison to Botany Bay is apt and is the reason for all the aussie slang. Which do you think would cost less, and which was actually used : a quick hanging and burial or a 12000 mile ocean cruise and maintaining a garrison at the destination?

                  --
                  No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
      • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Friday February 15 2019, @06:53PM

        by deimtee (3272) on Friday February 15 2019, @06:53PM (#801715) Journal

        It's been over a decade since I read it. (from an ancient socialist thing called "a public library") While I enjoyed it, I was very skeptical of a society that was basically anarchy. Everyone armed. Anyone could kill anyone at any time, but you could be sure revenge would ensue. It seems more like some of our barbarian history. It seems like the very worst in human nature would emerge. As it does in our society, but in a more violent and brutal fashion.

        Very few people were armed, only the warden's guards and a few hidden weapons I think. But it was a closed, very harsh environment and the book even says there was huge attrition in the early years. When there is nowhere to go and the guy next to you can let you die by doing nothing it is a survival skill to not be an arsehole.

        I don’t care for such work at zero pressure; mishaps in pressure suit is too permanent—especially when somebody arranges mishap. One first thing learned about Luna, back with first shiploads of convicts, was that zero pressure was place for good manners. Bad-tempered straw boss didn’t last many shifts; had an “accident”—and top bosses learned not to pry into accidents or they met accidents, too. Attrition ran 70 percent in the early years—but those who lived were nice people. Not tame, not soft, Luna is not for them. But well-behaved.

        --
        No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
  • (Score: 1) by tmib on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:27PM

    by tmib (906) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:27PM (#800719) Homepage

    I absolutely love this book! Granted it is hard to get into at first but I found that you stick with it you will start to think the way that it is written, and then it becomes almost second nature.

    --
    --- tmib / ntozier tmib.net osticket.com/forums
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:57PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:57PM (#800728)

    Manuel Garcia O'Kelly-Davis and Wyoming Knott.

  • (Score: 2) by cosurgi on Thursday February 14 2019, @11:53AM

    by cosurgi (272) on Thursday February 14 2019, @11:53AM (#800971) Journal

    I've read "The Moon is a harsh mistress". Maybe it was good, the point is - I honestly don't remember what was in this book. But Fiasco? I will never forget this book.

    --
    #
    #\ @ ? [adom.de] Colonize Mars [kozicki.pl]
    #
  • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Saturday March 09 2019, @11:23PM

    by hendrikboom (1125) on Saturday March 09 2019, @11:23PM (#812172) Homepage Journal

    It's March already and I'm still reading Fiasco.

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