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Belated post!

I'm a writer and in , . I teach and .

You can see my book "Nova Sapiens: The Believers" at novasapiensbook.com (print, ebook and audiobook). It's a hard novel about and . I've also made some related videos about robots in scifi here: youtube.com/channel/UC97hIEFoD.

I'm also here for , , , , .

Really well produced podcast from The Economist, on and consciousness: economist.com/podcasts/2022/08

I really like the clarity of the discussion here. I feel the media wasn't generally well prepared to report on something like LaMDA, and fell back to the old "he-said, she-said" format. That comes across as "underdog says AI is sentient; big corporation says no", which doesn't help.

But the broader points around the possibility of AI consciousness, and the question of how will we know if/when it happens, are both fascinatingly complex rabbit holes.

Book 

Marketing a book sucks. For , I'm certain (or unprovably egocentric enough to believe) that there's a nebulous group out there, in the world, who'd get a kick out of the story, the characters and/or the concepts. But finding them is a hell of a trick.

I've had very positive feedback from my awesome friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances. It's kept me going!

is a novel about and , which at first glance fits easily into a certain type of blingy media spectacle. But there are two problems with this:
(1) I'm just bad at marketing;
(2) People don't listen to marketing unless it's really, really good.

Also, the story itself tries to cast a critical gaze on the subject. The robots aren't shiny metal with glowing red eyes. The AI isn't an emotionless, superpowerful entity beyond human understanding. There is war, but it's messy and unglamorous.

These concepts attract a lot of oversimplification and loose thinking in sci-fi, which I've had a crack at in a series of videos:
m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL

Breaking the mould and doing a "reset" on what robots and AI mean, in sci-fi, requires readers (or prospective readers) to trust me a bit more. You're not getting the thing that you already understand, and that's the point. You're getting a mystery.

A large part of what I should be doing, I'm sure, is just talking about it more than I do, on social media or wherever I can find to talk about it.

With inflation at 7%, a lot of Curtin Uni staff, esp. casuals, absolutely need a pay rise to stay afloat. That management doesn't even want to talk about it is untenable.

t.co/IkcPObbH1s

You fools have probabilities all wrong. *This* is how (according to 3 assignment submissions I've just seen) you calculate a probability:

P = round(random real-number between 0--2 × random integer between 0--9)

You're welcome.

Academic integrity 

This is a wonderfully humourous and in-depth account of cheating at uni. I once discovered ~150 cases of collusion/plagiarism in one event, and so I have thoughts.

crumplab.com/articles/blog/pos

1. I really like the rigorous and simultaneously empathetic approach. It's a lot of work though!

2. Cheaters are, almost by definition, incompetent. They're actively trying to get out of competence. This bleeds over into their ability to account for their actions, or assess their situation objectively. They're just not very good at it.

3. Institutions talk tough, but they don't proactively *fund* the detection and processing of academic misconduct. Academics are "expected" to do it, but with what time and energy? There are no professional consequences for an academic who simply ignores it.

4. Official processes for investigating misconduct are hugely more formal than they were not so long ago. That formality is expensive.

Now off to HQ to help out with the important work of putting sausages on the map!

More on Hyperion (and The Fall of Hyperion): it's interesting reading (listening to) a take on the future of what is essentially the internet, from before the web. There's a lot of overlap with Neuromancer, but more developed.

The "data sphere" (or "mega sphere" or "datum plane"? There was some difference that eluded me) is where all data-ery things happen, and it's a virtual world complete with physics engine. There are building-like structures, agents ("phages" and AIs) existing in a Euclidean space. In Neuromancer it was called "cyberspace".

It's wonderful from a pure storytelling PoV, and it's not a bad guess for the time when those stories were written.

But it's just not what the world looks like now, and it's hard to see it happening in the real future. It doesn't clearly solve an actual problem, and it's probably a massive cybersecurity risk.

In the books, there are battles in the "data sphere"/"cyberspace" that resemble contests of physical force. But force isn't a thing in the actual digital world. Real cyber attacks and cyber security are a matter of knowledge and cunning.

The Yttrium episode of Periodic Videos (youtube.com/watch?v=NxbOQ1Fhqd) managed to relieve me of a rarefied torment originating from the Hyperion audiobook, where Dan Simmons is always on about a "lapis lazuli" sky. This term is almost impossible to google if you've only heard it spoken.

That is not, of course, the most interesting thing about either the video or the book, but I am now going to rest easy.

Special applause to the student I caught , who swore never to do it again, before being notified that we'd already discovered them doing it again.

"Just one for the road" as it were.

Also almost finished working my way through Iain M Banks's Culture series, via audiobooks.

The Abominator-class warship "Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints" is perhaps the most aptly named craft I've encountered.

Although at this rate I may finish book #2 before getting much attention for book #1.

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There's a GoodReads giveaway happening for the whole of May for .

Only for people in the US sadly. No idea why this restriction exists; this is for the ebook version.

Marketing a self-published book is slow going, but it is going!

Belated post!

I'm a writer and in , . I teach and .

You can see my book "Nova Sapiens: The Believers" at novasapiensbook.com (print, ebook and audiobook). It's a hard novel about and . I've also made some related videos about robots in scifi here: youtube.com/channel/UC97hIEFoD.

I'm also here for , , , , .

Ha, Sydney is shrouded in smoke, unlike... Oh goddamnit Perth.


Authorities were stunned to discover that they needed to arrest a man who wasn't French.

Not everything's shit on the Internet:

If you told me 20 years ago that something like Wikipedia would be functioning without turning into the scribble-wall of a massive virtual bathroom stall, I would have laughed at you.

Mandela effect 

(1/5)

The Mandela effect terrifies me. But not for the reasons you think.

In case you don't know the term, it's about a lot of ppl remembering something incorrectly, but extremely vividly. For example, many remember the Fruit of the Loom logo "originally" including a cornucopia, while it never did. The name comes from plenty of ppl "remembering" Nelson Mandela being dead back in the 80s.

The tongue-in-cheek "explanation" is alternate timelines.

Here's the scary part:

Email: "Hi David, It's been a number of weeks since our office sent you the below email. ..."

Ah, it's been two business days. But sure, that can be expressed as "a number" of weeks. I salute your pedantry.

Cryptocurrencies are only ALLOWED to exist, by governments, as long as they FAIL to fulfill their original promise: to sidestep tax, monetary policy and regulation.

Once there is any risk of them succeeding, there is an imperative to shut them down.

reuters.com/article/us-faceboo

"My cooking is like my martial arts. If I actually do it, people die."

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