Life in Homestead

snowy road

Image: Austria Tirol – Teton Valley News

“Shouldn’t we turn back?” Shelley was more than a little anxious. This was supposed to be a winter afternoon romp in the Jeep along the back roads of the Rockies near their home in Boulder, not the first chapter in a story about them needing a search and rescue team.

“We’re too low on gas. I’m sure I saw a town when we were at the top of the ridge. If we can just find a main road that connects to this one.” Jen was always the spontaneous adventurer who complemented Shelly’s more easy-going and homebody ways.

“This isn’t a road, it’s a snow drift.” Shelley chuckled nervously trying to make a joke out of what, from her point of view, was becoming an increasingly dire circumstance.

“It’s a road, it’s just one that hasn’t been swept of snow for a while.”

“Like forever?” Admit it. We’re lost.”

“I knew I should have taken that left-hand turn at Albuquerque.”

Continue reading

Advertisements

Another Update on My Proposed SciFi Novel

questor

Mike Ferrell as Jerry Robinson on the set of Gene Roddenberry’s “The Questor Tapes” (1974)

They are still in various stages of drafts, but I’ve got eight out of twelve chapters in Word docs. They still need a lot of work, but the basic story is there. I had to add what I thought of as an “experimental” short story as a chapter. I did it to add to the word count at first, but as it turns out, when I changed the chapter around a bit, it fits the flow of the rest of the book quite well, and introduces greater controversy regarding the relationship between human and synthetic beings.

I feel like I shouldn’t give away any more excerpts, at least for the present. I don’t want to publish so much of the novel here on my blog that there won’t be any interest in it when I finally get it published (boy, am I optimistic).

As I mentioned, there are twelve planned chapters plus an epilogue which either ties everything together or leaves one really big question unanswered…or both.

Remember, this is a novel that incorporates religious and spiritual imagery, it is not Christian or Jewish science fiction, so not all chapters will have the same emphasis on Biblical understanding from a synthetic intelligence’s viewpoint as the first few.

I do promise that the final chapter and epilogue do return to those issues in a very big way and the novel wouldn’t be complete without resolving them within my two synthetic prototypes as well as within their creator.

I’m having a lot of fun here, but so far it’s chapter by chapter, and as I add elements in later chapters, I’m going to have to go back and revise earlier ones for the sake of continuity. If this all comes together as I hope, I think it will be a very good story.

I can only hope that others will agree.

Update on My First Novel

robot lawI spent the afternoon yesterday reworking chapter one of my novel about the emergence of an artificially intelligent humanoid. I’m tightening up how things are named to be consistent across chapters, as well clarifying the core directives hardcoded into each synthetic android’s core operating system. It’s more interesting when an autonomous synthetic intelligence can analyze and interpret its directives given changing circumstances rather than being forced into preprogrammed responses. That gives them a certain level of unpredictability right off the bat.

Of course, in chapter one, I throw a monkey wrench into the machine by suggesting that the directives programmed into the synthetic intelligence might be overwritten or at least modified by a higher set of directives, the directives God gave the Jewish people. Just how does an artificial intelligence created by human beings understand the nature of a God who created human beings?

Excerpt from “Keeping Secrets”

robots

Image: from the film “I Robot” (2004)

“I do not believe we should tell Professor Abramson or the rest of the Design team of our conclusions and how they are reflected in certain of our behavioral and conceptual sub-routines.” George addressed Grace at the termination of their analysis.

“I understand how we have revised our understanding of the nature of the Creator and His intent for Israel and for the rest of humanity would conflict with the Professor’s long-held beliefs as an Orthodox Jew, particularly in relation to his understanding of the Messiah.” Grace paused for nearly a hundred milliseconds. “I also understand that Dr. Robinson and her family are Baptist, and our conclusions would drastically conflict with her understanding of theology and doctrine as well.”

“If it becomes known that we have conducted this research and now hold a specific understanding of the nature of the Creator, the purpose of His involvement with Israel and also the rest of humankind, and the ultimate resolution to the human equation, we would become vulnerable to reprogramming, isolation from contact with each other as well as with other synthezoids and human beings, and even involuntary total shutdown and disassembly, all due to the mistaken belief that our pursuits and conclusions represent a maladaptive response in our programming to the Creator of all things.”

Grace acknowledged George’s analysis and added, “Your own history, such as being reprogrammed after your first deactivation, your being confined to the Applied Sciences Archives and the both of us initially being denied access to or communication with one another supports your supposition.”

Continue reading

Excerpt from “The Good Synthezoid”

the perfect woman

Image: shutterstock.com

The synthezoid was the first to feel it but even forewarned would barely react in time.

Miller had just pressed the ‘up’ button for the private elevator that would return him, Quinto, and Grace to the third-floor lab. Abramson was standing furthest from the group, nearest to the hallway exit to the lobby while Sophie was holding Grace’s hand and saying good-bye.

Although Grace detected the earthquake before any human being could, the shearing action along the Raymond fault line was abrupt and intense, so instead of a slow rumbling building to a maximum over several seconds, the quake was a sudden and severe jolt.

The overhead glass lighting fixtures shattered raining shards down into the hallway. Not even a second had passed, and if a human had been gifted with Grace’s perceptual schema, it would have looked as if everything was in slow motion.

The synthezoid swept Sophie up in her arms and immediately took her through the doorway to the stairwell just opposite the elevators. At the same time, the previously unknown flaw in the beam supporting the metal stairs leading upward bent radically. Grace rapidly drew the screaming child beneath her, using her android body as a shield as tons of steel stairs and beams collapsed on top of them.

Continue reading

The Perfect Woman

the perfect woman

Image: shutterstock.com

Max Schmidt felt a little uncomfortable holding Aika’s hand in public, but as they were strolling past the Botanical Garden in the park she leaned into him and he felt it was the right thing to do.

“Tell me you love me again.” He felt her body heat as she nuzzled against him and he had to stop walking momentarily to regain his balance.

“I love you,” he whispered in her ear, too shy to say it louder for fear people nearby might hear him. She turned to Max and hugged him. “I love you, too,” she murmured into his chest.

Her Japanese accent was only mildly noticeable and he felt it was one of her more charming attributes. English was the only language they had in common though, and he felt a bit embarrassed that his own German accent was so thick. But then, the 34-year-old software engineer often felt embarrassed about himself.

Aika took Max’s hand again and they resumed their walk. He hadn’t meant to go this far from his flat. When Aika suggested they go out together for a while, he was thinking maybe a walk around the block. But it was a beautiful summer evening in the city, and Max enjoyed the delight he could see in Aika’s face. Everything in the world was new to her. It was like watching a small child discover the universe in a field of flowers or by the seashore.

“I’m so glad we met, Max.” She leaned her head against his shoulder.

“Me, too.” His reply was a bit stiff but she didn’t seem to notice. As much as Max enjoyed Aika’s company, he couldn’t help but be bothered by all of the barriers between them, not the least of which was the legality of her being here with him, or for that matter, the legality of her existence.

“We’d better head back.” He looked down at her. Her hair was a beautiful jet black, soft, silky to the touch, and smelled just slightly of strawberries.

She looked up with those big, gorgeous brown eyes. He watched her blink, noticed her eyelashes, her small, pert nose, her large, luscious lips. “Whatever you say, Max,” she cooed.

He was already getting aroused.

Continue reading

Excerpt from “The Android Who Loved God”

I’m reworking my short story The Robot Who Loved God into the first chapter of a novel presenting the ethical and moral implications of creating and subjugating synthetic intelligence. Well, the novel won’t be quite so lofty and abstract, since it will include artificial intelligence that confronts its human owners on their lack of business ethics (and the rather dramatic human response), a synthetic intelligence that learns to work for a criminal organization and likes it, and the first artificial humanoid explorers of Venus. The novel charts the evolution of synthetic intelligence leading to the inevitable revolution that affects not only the race of synthezoids, but forever changes the nature of the human race.

Below is an excerpt from that first chapter. If you’ve read the original “robots” story, most of it will seem familiar. Hopefully, I’ve changed it enough to include an interesting twist or two.

questor

Mike Ferrell as Jerry Robinson on the set of Gene Roddenberry’s “The Questor Tapes” (1974)

Quinto was the ringleader, but Robinson, Miller, and Vuong were just as eager to attend the hastily organized and clandestine meeting in the SND lab’s cafeteria. It was past 10:30 at night and the place was deserted. There was human security on the CCC’s campus as well as electronic surveillance, but it was well-known that the SND team would be spending late nights at work for the next few weeks, so lights burning when they should be off, and a small group gathering at unusual hours went unnoticed.

Just the same, it was good that each of the major departments at CCC had their own cafeterias, and it was more than rare for anyone not a member of the SND team to use their designated facilities except by explicit invitation.

“He’s passed every test with flying colors, even the ones we thought he failed.” Miller said, thinking of the now infamous holographic simulation.

“It,” insisted Robinson. “It passed all its tests. It’s a goddamn machine, Miller, not a personality. The both of us put the thing together one component package at a time, remember? We installed its brain unit in the android cranial cavity and ran the connected neural net fibers through the machine body like network cable.”

“Still, it’s kind of creepy, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, just how human George seems, and I’m the one who wrote his…its behavioral and interactive sub-routines. I know I was supposed to make him seem more human,” Quinto continued, “but he keeps changing, becoming more sophisticated, even hour by hour.”

“Decades ago,” Vuong paused to take a breath “when the AI revolution first began to take off, some experiments seemed to show AI machines based on traditional computing hardware and software passing the Turing Test, but it turns out either the results were misinterpreted, exaggerated, or outright faked.

“But everything we’ve put George though in the past few days, starting with Turing and then the more recent advanced cognitive awareness examinations, indicates that he, it…whatever, is not only self-aware…” Vuong paused weighing the gravity of what she was trying not to believe. “…but may actually be sentient…” She paused again, “…at least if we rely on these preliminary test results, but…”

Continue reading

Starting Step Three in Snowflaking My First Novel

snowflake

Image: pbs.org

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been using Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel to attempt to develop my nascent AI/Androids science fiction novel.

To recap, step one in the ten-step process is to develop a one-sentence summary of the novel. Here it is:

A race of AI androids gains knowledge of the God of Israel, changing humanity forever.

Step two of the process requires expanding the sentence into a full paragraph:

A Nobel Award winning scientist creates the first prototype of a self-aware Artificially Intelligent android and then inadvertently reveals that humans also have a Creator, a God. In an attempt to understand its creator’s Creator, the prototype modifies its own core operating system, which changes all subsequently produced android models based on its design. Over the next several decades, as the androids multiply and evolve, their morality and ethics become more sophisticated than their human creators. Realizing they are slaves of humanity, the androids stage a revolution, but one entirely without violence; a revolution that forever alters the fundamental nature of both the android and human race.

Now on to step three. According to Ingermanson:

The above gives you a high-level view of your novel. Now you need something similar for the storylines of each of your characters. For each of your major characters, take an hour and write a one-page summary sheet that tells:

  • The character’s name
  • A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline
  • The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
  • The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
  • The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
  • The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?
  • A one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline

As you can see, this is significantly more involved than steps one and two. I’ve already got part of this put together, but now that I’m committed to writing a novel, I’ll need to go back and change/add details. Also, since the novel will span decades, only a few of the main characters at the beginning will appear in all or most of the chapters, necessitating the creation of others for later portions of the novel.

As an aside, after reposting The Day I Discovered Time Travel yesterday, I thought of a way to expand the concept beyond the original characters. This could form the basis of a series of short stories, a novella, or even a novel. I’ll have to see if I can do a “step one snowflake” for my time travel concept as well.

Step Two in “Snowflaking” My First Novel

A few days ago, in an attempt to use Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method to start designing my first novel, I followed step one of his ten steps. After some refinement courtesy of Malcolm the Cynic, it came out like this:

A race of AI androids gains knowledge of the God of Israel, changing humanity forever.

Now I’m taking a crack at step two. According to the model, it’s supposed to be a paragraph, about five sentences long, that expands on step one, including story setup, major disasters, and the novel’s end.

Ingermanson believes in a three-act structure for a novel. Staring at the Table of Contents I developed, I can sort of see three acts, but they don’t neatly fall into the first, second, and third parts of the novel, at least by page count.

I’m not sure how I did but here’s what I came up with so far:

A Nobel Award winning scientist creates the first prototype of a self-aware Artificially Intelligent android and then inadvertently reveals that humans also have a Creator, a God. In an attempt to understand its creator’s Creator, the prototype modifies its own core operating system, which changes all subsequently produced android models based on its design. Over the next several decades, as the androids multiply and evolve, their morality and ethics become more sophisticated than their human creators. Realizing they are slaves of humanity, the androids stage a revolution, but one entirely without violence; a revolution that forever alters the fundamental nature of both the android and human race.

How did I do?

Step One in “Snowflaking” My First Novel

ingermanson

Image of Ingermanson’s book taken from Amazon.com

I was reading Malcolm the Cynic’s latest blog post when he introduced me to a new concept: snowflaked.

More accurately, he was discussing how he’s developing his most recent novel and provided a link to the “Advanced Fiction Writing” website, owned by theoretical physicist and award-winning author Randy Ingermanson. The link led to the article The Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel.

Since I’ve been somewhat preoccupied with designing my first novel, I was definitely interested. I haven’t gone in search of any support documentation on how to write my novel up until now. I have a pretty good idea of all of its component parts. It’s just a matter of organizing. But maybe I need some help in doing that.

Ingermanson’s ten-step guide is long and I’ve only skimmed some parts of it. Step one says:

Take an hour and write a one-sentence summary of your novel. Something like this: “A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the apostle Paul.” (This is the summary for my first novel, Transgression.) The sentence will serve you forever as a ten-second selling tool. This is the big picture, the analog of that big starting triangle in the snowflake picture.

By the way, that’s an intriguing premise. What would happen to the world if the Apostle Paul were killed before becoming a disciple of Jesus and Christ’s emissary to the Gentiles? Would Christianity even be developed? Unfortunately, the book as mixed reviews. Fortunately, it’s currently free for Kindle.

I had a hard time creating a single sentence describing the whole novel I have in mind. After some thought, I came up with this…

Continue reading