Glimmers of the Data Age

I went to see the new exhibition at the Science Museum in London, the “Age of Information”. On my way to it, I went through an old favourite, the history of computing. As I was thinking about the information age, I was drawn to two pieces from the history of computing that seemed to point […]

Read More Glimmers of the Data Age

Life on Mars… and beyond

The question of how we would respond to the possible discovery of alien life is one of the themes of Sea of Dreams. In fact, it was the initial impetus for writing the book. I started it because I wanted to explore how it was that we would understand something that had some of the […]

Read More Life on Mars… and beyond

Thoughts on ‘Speculative Fiction: Androids and the Prometheus Myth’

Just after writing about Elon Musk and his ‘summoning the demon’ quote about AI, I found this blog by Stephie Dror, Speculative Fiction: Androids and the Prometheus Myth. It’s a different reading of the whole AI/android versus humanity trope in science fiction. I hadn’t thought about it being an analogy for the struggle between parents […]

Read More Thoughts on ‘Speculative Fiction: Androids and the Prometheus Myth’

Summoning the demon

Recently, Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal and CEO of Space-X, distilled his concerns about artificial intelligence as an existential threat in this quote, With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control […]

Read More Summoning the demon

Emotion recognition

An article in the New York Times recently, “When Algorithms Grow Accustom to Your Face“, discussed the advances in identifying the micromodifications in our facial expression and mapping them to the emotional states that produce them. While the article focused on the privacy concerns that this raises, as well as the various uses that the […]

Read More Emotion recognition

Chinese moon probe: jade rabbit

The Chinese will be sending an unmanned probe to the moon, according to the BBC news story. In a particularly interesting coincidence, the probe is named Yutu or the Jade Rabbit. The Jade Rabbit is one of the main characters in my short story Uncle Wei and the Jade Rabbit. Uncle Wei is part of […]

Read More Chinese moon probe: jade rabbit

Five Billion Years of Solitude?

In a recent New York Times review of Lee Billings’ book, Five Billion Years of Solitude, the review, Dennis Overbye, points out how long the odds are of finding other worlds that could host life: Complex life arose here only half a billion years ago, notes James Kasting, a geosciences professor at Penn State, who […]

Read More Five Billion Years of Solitude?

Man v machine

A recent BBC article raised the question ‘Why do we love the drama of man versus machine?‘ The author posits that it is about the assertion of humanity against the odds, think Terminator or Matrix. I have a slightly different interest, which was part of what I wanted to explore in Sea of Dreams. What […]

Read More Man v machine

Major League Robot Baseball

{Inspired by this story in Wired magazine: Japanese scientists build baseball-playing robot with 100,000-neuron ‘brain’} Sadahuru-batter waddles to the plate while Sadahuru-runner1 settles itself in the runner box. Sadahuru-batter launches its drone-eye. Once in place, it focuses on the 1,000 meter space between Sadahuru and Tomokazu-pitcher. Sadahuru-batter receives the datastream from the drone-eye and takes […]

Read More Major League Robot Baseball