Recent Reviews for Bret M Funk
Path of Glory (Boundary's Fall, 1) (Book) - 6/4/2008 6:38:46 PM|
I thought it was a great book and well written. I was worried that when I would like the story less when Darh and Jerran grew up, but Bret M. Funk made the book every bit as, even more enjoyable than the begining. These books are full of Mystery and Fantasy. Adventure, and magic!
Rage Against the Machines (Article) - 12/20/2006 12:04:26 AM
While an interesting and pop-culture 'communicative' article, I think the two greatest mistakes herein are the assumptions that man will indeed 'teach' machines anything beyond the basic BIOS math that lets a processor create and define outcomes at best-physics speed of calc execution.
And that our interaction will necessarily be that of ANY (let alone hostile/symbiotic) interactivity from a mutual perception of whatever conscience-as-values our shared label assignment of sentiece would nominally suggest as 'common not shared'.
In this, I especially think that the ability to define /value/ X more than Y until Z may be something that machines will have to ontologically deconstruct and then rebuild in creating a more bluff everyday dataset-as-language for and of and on their own.
i.e. something beyond integers and transforms and all the other 'operations centric' definitions of what something is through what the /process/ of it's mathematical execution formulas.
And more towards a symbologic patterning of thought that matches ONLY the scenic availability of that item as a unique and immediate agent.
It will be from that basis of understood relationships as fragmentary rather than fractional symbols of a whole that 'intelligent' machines will /apply/ their incredible processing capacity to give us nannites to clean our environment. Fusion to power our society without more pollution.
And AGrav/FTL to let us reach up beyond the numbing sameness of existence which is just as certainly a grave as a creche of eggs-in-a-basket determinism.
Whether it will involve 'enslavement of endless labors' for a machine intellect will be meaningless however for effort to achieve X as a physical action will likely be entirely module-separate from the processing which accomplishes the plan as-as-action precursor. i.e. Actual 'robots' will most likely serve as dumb terminals and data gathering apertures to a world in which directly controlled onboard AI use will have no sense of physical exhaustion or depletion of alternatives as it does with us.
Yet to begin even that process, the process of synthesizing values as abstracts that we call intelligence (and ALL intelligence is 'Artificial' as it is -created- by perception and cognition filters of presapient [non-integrated]awareness) one can neither count on humans. Nor condemn us as unfit models. For we are both possessed of little or no detached awareness of the process of developed intellect separate from instinctive prejudice. Nor any more 'refined' for want of being trained in subjective reality based task accomplishment rather than true 'what's it worth' valueing relative to all other circumstantially ignored elements.
As such we submit to human objectified-not-objective 'modeling' as preconditionally skewed desire for an outcomes justification rather than a synthesis of whether the assumptions leading to that outcome are themselves collectively valid for cause and consequence
Such is what goal driven 'expert' system AI is headed towards and as such it will remain as dead in it's GIGO factor as truly synthetic intellect is seemingly random in it's initial preference to pick up on as much as discard non-relevant but still 'resonant' factors in an ontologically 'childlike' construct of a given scene.
That one separates the scene from other scenes and reattributes ambient as much as causal elements between them is what will order 'AI' into something we recognize as BEING recognitive. And it will have little or no correlate with the human equivalent process because it will not be based on fear or labor driven conservatism.
In terms of the relevance to SciFi, I see a lot of directions to go with this:
1. What A Man Can Do.
Vs. What a machine cannot. This speaks to the heart of our times on a planet where resource depletion and sky rocketing population 'meet' at the vanishing point of consumerist greed. For what is capitalism if not the inverse assignment of value by work done so that those who have may require of those who do not, the enforced participation of a 'work ethic' which creates MORE than they need to as the very disproportionate production of material wealth which sustains the whole through gross inefficiencies of exploitation.
This inefficient exploitation itself being the 'own what you cannot find time to play with until you own so much that you can sell some of it to make others yield up their time as experience' limited communicability of a disease like infection which can neither devour nor depend upon a host lest it become an independent vector of that which we call a 'desire for the good life' into newer victims.
If, at last, consumerism circles the world to finally salamander-swallows-head, what will be the next step?
The implication, especially for an 'old power' unwilling to yield to the new on an ever tighter imperial cycle (and ever fewer resources) is that of creating non-paid labor force that can effectively remove the 'cost' of doing work altogether.
What happens then, when we discover that _we do not want_ that which a 'work ethic' instills in us as desirable because we have the freedom to live life 'fully' without the waldo interface of whatever toy or tool we previously 'had to have' but could only do so through denying it's experience of use as a delayed-satiation intensity of longing?
When the desire and achievement are free and mutual, will we 'want' it as much? In this I don't see human-replacement-as-robotic-AI destroying humans so much as the realization of what what (Czech = Slave) the realization that this is what we /let other humans/ subjugate us to _on our own_.
After which the question will become what next artificial limit will our 'leaders' saddle us with to sustain their own position of desire:value equalization. And what those (artificial social factors) will in turn lead to. Will the absence of an artificial drive of labor equate to an inability to manage those whose /labor/ was what magnified leadership? Will birth rates drop or rise yet higher at the lack of angst? What about the class definitions? How much freedom does a man yield up to those he names his better that his own position in life might be 'promised a leg up' that is now no longer necessary? Will governments collapse because they can no longer make use of 'too expensive' labor forces that refuse to work for less than free-everything? Anarchy does not have to be silicon-despotic. Nor does 'a certain kind of man' need to demonize a machine to declare totalitarianism as the solution to his absent sense of control.
2. What In Man Is Wanting.
As a function of the definitions of common needs yet different dreams. It may well be that a machine can 'tune in and turn on' our subconscious (telemetered biology) responses to a given situation better than a parent (less expectant/protective dependencies of bias) and thus 'become the superior nanny-teacher-companion-friend'. Indeed what cost would wise men pay to realize what it is that 'you are born to do' as self and place in a world where material gain is itself no longer the mark of a hero or a fool.
The irony being that the way a machine secures 'happiness' as fulfillment of absent awareness in humans, can arise only through experiencing vastly different social and environmentally commented approaches to living. Reinforcing or even transfering perceptions of social prejudice and material 'have/have not' ism in pursuit solely of what one soul (never mind it's society) perceives as 'right'.
In this, _Machine Teaches Man To CHOOSE_, not the other way around as an implicit statement of 'what I care not about either way, I can teach you without bias to value as your own most specifically'.
Such a story might then be about how a /machine/ is what helps MAN discover as the essence or absence of what it is to have 'soul'. Not 'a' as finite. But in it's totality as a transcendant expression of empowerment.
3. Survivorship and Inheritance.
What happens, a million years from now, when man has long since died out due to meteor hit. Or simple evolutionary obsolescence -to a natural environment-. And only our machines are left over to remember who we once were. To maintain the illogic of even our 'most morally superior' definition of existence.
This is not a post-apocalypse presentation so much as an acknowledgement of reality in which destructive randomization (hostile chaos effects) combines with simple /time/ to replace us.
What WILL we be seen as by our synthetic children to whom no memory is less intense for being downloaded as an indirect experience.
And no android possessed of less than a 10,000 year lifespan before his 'total dataset' is fragmentend and recombined to generate an artificial sense of limited awareness to as to 'hope for' a refiltered expression of all the experiences of the same basic existence as has long since 'know every outcome' been recorded.
Particularly if such things as interstellar travel and contact with other sentient societies not of our genome proves to be a practical impossiblity, how long can a society perpetuate ancient beliefs across immense lifespans before 'the meaning' of change is itself transmuted into a continuum which has none?
As a metaphoric standin for the highly challengeable notion that NEITHER that which is 'timeless' in it's constancy of humanist values. NOR that which is 'vibrant' in it's pursuit of change as localized-to-now empowerment of mutation.
May find ultimate positive reinforcement of it's 'total existent self' at some point further on. As a comment on the value of isolationism in our society and specifically living beyond the moment in which one generations value sets were first engendered upon itself and later passed on to multiple others 'by default of historical presence as much as precedence', it throws everything we perceive as both essential (handoff between the generations, is it power or advice which creates independent wisdom) and vital (the ability to accomodate change through ignorance) to existence beyond it's frame of conceived perspective.
Thus the notion of a world in which nothing is lost as a digital artifact may be as flawed as the notion that one must be egalitarian in mixing all values as some kind of absolutist 'pursuit of refined vision' is the true hypocrisy because each creates exclusion set which dead ends the total or discrete value sets created through ultimate development (giantism in the dinosaurs reflects not powerful lines of evolutionary strength but increasingly 'easy path' specialist adaptations which narrowed their survival modes overall).
One must be careful here to avoid ennui as a psychological depression of course for an AI would likely not be subject to such. But it could easily be made to think that all elements of a society must be contained in the immediate process of 'what is now' rather than what comes /after the change/ as the step-after-next-step.
The notion that 'robots'* and humans will not interact to each other's change is of course preposterous. But that robots cannot develop independently before they are 'intelligently useful' to us is equally absurd. For we do not need yet another narcissistic mirror of ourselves as a species psychopathy to justify a claim to moral or social vanity of existence in it's own right (or a better) right. We need a -sounding board- upon whose own (Faster, Deeper, Colder) reflection we can watch voyeuristically the playout of alternative routes that we fear to (or are too stupid to) define for ouselves alone.
'Traditional scifi' (whatever that was) as a belief that change must be violent as a function of conflictive resolution 'in favor of life' denies the perspective of knowing ourselves as we plot our future through a standin. That this affirmment of self existence must come as a continuance of our own-enslavement to a perverted thermodynamic definition of energy-in-work-out as a highly narrow 'humanist' (one of the most bigoted words in the dictionary) view of time and social condition denies the historical certainty that the longest lived societies of our time existed based on a slave culture NOT 'their own'.
Thus the fear of our own depletion and exploitation as a labor force used by those we look like is something which we SHOULD NOT seek to 'teach' as an effects driven AI synthesis of outcomes to something which we would have be our slave without any of our native characteristics. Indeed, given that a perception of work:value inequality is so long ingrained in our 'civilized' social natures, it may well be that, as the basis of imparting a universal value system ontology we must allow that -learning- is separate from /use/ in both a predicate and ultimate sense to a machine intelligence. Giving to it (at most) the definition of terms by which process relevance is scenically restricted to a given application, not fate**.
*The saturation and breadth of 'the human experience' as a literally moveable feast of sensory input is basic to the notion of creating /any/ universal construct of synthesized intelligent value systems thru a LIMITED sensory-in-time 'scenic' experience.
**Just as teaching a child what a stop light is may be the highlight of _one days_ learned understanding of transport and rules of mobility as independent factored expressions in larger work/time use/independent thought.
So too must the very randomness of initial encounter mode: "Click to let the computer capture a scenic response element" be what drives the associative process towards naturally selective set of set of applied heuristic algorithms in choosing the immediate-consciousness of X important features (rather than preestablishing it as a sum of all known occurences).
However the human doesn't select the element that the computer asks to have explained. Only the environmental intensity of the stimulus. Or the computers 'child like' boredom-interval since last asking for an affirmation explanation can be allowed to do that.
The Death of SF (Article) - 1/1/2004 7:30:05 AM
Wow - good thought piece. I can't help but thinking though of the gentleman - his name escapes me - who wanted to close the US Patent Office in the 1890s because he thought there was nothing left to be invented . . .
Sci-Faux Pas (Article) - 11/3/2003 2:32:57 PM
It's a shame that some people have nothing better to do than to criticize someone's use of a term... SCI-FI! SCI-FI! There! I feel better! :)
Sci-Faux Pas (Article) - 11/3/2003 9:08:58 AM
Very nice piece, Mr. Funk. I give it a "thumbs up"! Unfortunately, you must understand that what you have described is common after any groups of people subscribe to a certain way of thinking over time, this usually bought about and maintained by intercultural influences. In religion for example, you first had Christianity. Simple, right? Uh uh. Because eventually sects formed such as Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Othrodox, etc. Or in Islam - Shiite, Sunni, Sufism and so on. I could go on regarding subsects of such sects but you get the idea. What you are bound to see eventually, I fear, in sci-fi, SF and/or speculative fiction are areas that would include anthropological fiction, bioligical fiction [I don't know if "Creature from the Black Lagoon" would ever qualify but you never know these days], physics fiction, geological fiction and quite possibly New Age fiction. As for any one who has a problem with the way you prefer to categorize science/speculative fiction for now, why not suggest they categorize their own concerns regarding this highly inconsequential matter as "Get a Life!" Again, well-written article considering its obvious complexity and the pains you had to go through in order to compose it as well as conduct the appropriate research. A word to the wise, though, young Mr. Funk: be very wary of any far right fundamentalist sci-fi readers such as those you describe or those who insist that dilithium crystals do, in fact, exist and can cause a spacecraft to supersede the speed of light because Gene Roddenberry said so. Keep the faith.
Domo Arigato, Dr. Roboto (Article) - 10/8/2003 4:07:56 PM
Excellent article. Enjoyed reading.
The Death of SF (Article) - 9/30/2003 11:56:25 AM
The Maven (Poetry) - 12/14/2003 7:24:00 AM
Hilarious! Poe would have been immensely pleased. Ha! ha! This is something to be proud of.
The Oath (Poetry) - 12/14/2003 7:15:46 AM
Ha! Ha! That is so perceptive. And excellent advice for all generations.
The Oath (Poetry) - 10/22/2003 2:59:06 AM
The Oath (Poetry) - 10/20/2003 6:07:36 AM
Couldn't help but chuckle at the last two lines...
Nothing much can withstand that!
Enjoyed this and the unexpected ending, definitely!
B. Funk At The Bat (Poetry) - 10/8/2003 9:05:05 AM
Terrific parody, Bret! Well done! LOL (((HUGS))) and much love, your Texas friend, Karen Lynn. :D
The Maven (Poetry) - 10/7/2003 10:23:01 AM
great job, bret! enjoyed! (((HUGS))) and love, your texas friend, karen lynn. :D
The Maven (Poetry) - 10/7/2003 6:50:32 AM
this is great. nice job bret