Monday, August 11, 2003

Digging through the archives and dug this one out. Still think there's a story in here, somewhere, something that links back to Billy Win. Something that drags in Paul Peter and Bobby Trojas and maybe has a little niche in there somewhere for Boop. Dunno. Something, something. How close are we to true AI? MI? Whatever the fuck you wanna call it.

And if that truly comes to bear, and the web is its world, what predators will it find? What kinda rogue code is out there replicating itself, rebuilding its source code, evolving to move faster and quieter?

Maybe that's the future of 'ware. Smart programs birthed on servers and then released into the wild; programs that we can make deals with, programs that can slough off a piece of themselves to live in our machines, individually, act as groundskeepers and security guards, as live-in butlers, secretaries, as constant companions. This is old sci-fi (used to good effect during that AI online game), but I think I got here through a funny route, looking at the evolution of the potential instead of imagining what's essentially an electropet that's beholden to our petty desires.

Actually, Frederick Pohl did some cool stuff with this idea in the later Gateway books, anthropomizing the living shit out of Robinette Broadhead's Einstein program. The third (?) book makes a major point outta the Einstein program going into a fugue state 'cause it has to cope with a kinda esoteric quantum conundrum (Something the real Einstein always choked on too, the whole "I can't believe God plays dice with the universe" thing), and in the fourth book (or maybe it's fourth and fifth; whatever) Robinette himself is a dead guy living as a program, actually pal-ing around with the Einstein program.

But getting back to my point: what about "naturally" occuring self-aware programs? William Gibson hit on that one in both Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive with Legba and Samedi and the rest of the voodoo crew, but he seems to have held it there, really, and didn't spend a lot of time diving entirely into it. There's some cuteness at the end of Mona Lisa with (if I recall correctly) Bobby Newmark, 3Jane and the program Colin riding off into the sunset, and that industrialist guy (can't remember his name; the one who's physicality is in a tank in Stockholm) is killed by Legba, but both stories were told from the perspective of the living guys, the guys on the ground. The eletronic guys don't really get into it. (I just realized: Bobby Newmark-Bobby Trojas. Goddamn it. I knew that name sounded like something else) The electronic guys are barkground for the dudes with the guns, 'cause ultimately, Gibson's just writing stylish adventure stories.

What would the electronic guys want? New servers, better routers, more uplinks and landlines? Or would they be happy to exchange their services for a friendly place to live? A place where they could set up housekeeping, rearrange things to their liking, request new hardware, new software, do the things that interest them? I like that thought, actually. A home. And a place that they'd defend and keep secure. A duality that works out for both owner and resident.

Possibilities of "interviews" with prospective programs, with empty machines plugged into the net and homeless programs swirling in, trying to convince the owners to let them stay.

Where does Billy Win fit in, though? Is he the first? Or the revolutionary? The first one that's not willing to be just a pet for some damned human being.

Like it, like it, like it....

And Boop, on the ground, doing the legwork for some long green.


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