Monday, September 17, 2018

Scroogled by Cory Docotorow - The Day Google Became Evil

Originally published in RADAR, Doctorow has released this story under a Creative Commons License.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Download this and other Creative Commons short stories in a Cory Doctorow anthology, “With A Little Help”. Click here.

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Photo of Croy Doctorow by Joi Ito. CC-BY Hosted on flickr.

Scroogled

“Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an
excuse in them to hang him.” - Cardinal Richelieu

Greg landed at SFO at 8PM, but by the time he made it to the front of the
customs line it was after midnight. He had it good — he’d been in first class,
first off the plane, brown as a nut and loose-limbed after a month on the beach
at Cabo, SCUBA diving three days a week, bumming around and flirting with
French college girls the rest of the time. When he’d left San Francisco a month
before, he’d been a stoop-shouldered, pot-bellied wreck — now he was a bronze
god, drawing appreciative looks from the stews at the front of the plane.

In the four hours he spent in the customs line, he fell from god back to man.
His warm buzz wore off, the sweat ran down the crack of his ass, and his
shoulders and neck grew so tense that his upper back felt like a tennis racket.
The batteries on his iPod died after the third hour, leaving him with nothing
to do except eavesdrop on the middle-aged couple ahead of him.

“They’ve starting googling us at the border,” she said. “I told you they’d do
it.”

“I thought that didn’t start until next month?” The man had brought a huge
sombrero on board, carefully stowing it in its own overhead locker, and now he
was stuck alternately wearing it and holding it.

Googling at the border. Christ. Greg vested out from Google six months before,
cashing in his options and “taking some me time,” which turned out to be harder
than he expected. Five months later, what he’d mostly done is fix his friends’
PCs and websites, and watch daytime TV, and gain ten pounds, which he blamed on
being at home, instead of in the Googleplex, with its excellent 24-hour gym.

The writing had been on the wall. Google had a whole pod of lawyers in charge
of dealing with the world’s governments, and scumbag lobbyists on the Hill to
try to keep the law from turning them into the world’s best snitch. It was a
losing battle. The US Government had spent $15 /billion/ on a program to
fingerprint and photograph visitors at the border, and hadn’t caught /a single/
terrorist. Clearly, the public sector was not equipped to Do Search Right.

The DHS officers had bags under their eyes as they squinted at their screens,
prodding mistrustfully at their keyboards with sausage fingers. No wonder it
was taking four hours to get out of the goddamned airport.

“Evening,” he said, as he handed the man his sweaty passport. The man grunted
and swiped it, then stared at his screen, clicking. A lot. He had a little bit
of dried food in the corner of his mouth and his tongue crept out and licked at
it as he concentrated.

“Want to tell me about June, 1998?”

Greg turned his head this way and that. “I’m sorry?”

“You posted a message to alt.burningman on June 17, 1998 about your plan to
attend Burning Man. You posted, ‘Would taking shrooms be a really bad idea?’”

[Read More…]

Sunday, June 3, 2018

All Cliff Hangers

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Elite Dangerous image by Stefans02 - CC-BY

Madge chewed furiously as the escaping air whistled past her ears. Then she slapped the wad of chewing gum over the hole and the cold of space immediately froze it into place. She grabbed a roll of duct tape from her utility belt and duct taped a nice X over the patch. Speaking into her log she added “Standard emergency patch, chewing gum and duct tape.”

“That was close.” she thought. “If that hole had been a half inch bigger the air would have sucked her gum right out into space and there would have been a Madge patch duct taped to the wall.”

“Navigation report!” said the Captain.

“We’ve got problems.” said the navigator. “You know that little asteroid that just punctured Madge’s cabin? Well, it’s mama is following right behind.”

Madge looked out her porthole and sure enough. There was one mother of an asteroid heading straight at her. She didn’t know what to do so she crawled under the bed. Her whole cabin shook when the asteroid hit.

hairylarry posted on 2018-06-02 at 23:22 Central Time.

A start of a story on Collab. Join Collab and add your cliff hanger to “All Cliff Hangers”. All of the stories on Collab are CC-BY.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Little Miss Tuffet

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Image from of “Fairy roads to Science-Town” (1919) - Public Domain

Little Miss Tuffet sat on her Muffet because it was eating her cottage cheese.

Along came an eight legged creature who began to sneeze.

Miss Tuffit cried, “Would you stop that please.”

“I would if I could but I’m allergic to Muffets, especially when they eat cottage cheese.” he replied.

The Muffet said “I’m not scared of spiders and continued eating his cottage cheese.”

Miss Tuffit said, “I am”, and ran off.

The Muffet said “That’s a load off my back. Thank you spider. Do you want some cottage cheese?”

These writers contributed to “Little Miss Tuffit “ on Collab - hairylarry, vivian

All stories on Collab are CC-BY.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Owl Princess

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The Owl Princess by Deevad on deviantart. CC BY-SA

Deevad aka David Revoy also does Pepper and Carrot previously featured on SFF Short Stories. Most of his work is available with Creative Commons licenses some free culture and some non-commercial no-derivatives.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Chaotic Diaspora

The Chaotic Diaspora
by Larry Heyl CC-BY

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Rocket ship artwork by metalandrew on Pixabay Public Domain

In 2061 three of the nations top astronomers took the news to the president. The next day the ambassador spoke at the United Nations. There was no doubt. The orbit had been calculated and checked. In 960 days a comet was going to hit the earth.

Astronomers all over the world confirmed the observations. The internet burned up with possible solutions that quickly became two. “Save The World” and “Get The Hell Out”. Generally speaking the East wanted to STW while the West wanted to GTHO. PTP or “Populate The Planets” was quickly seen as a death trap but a few small nations still chose PTP.

To STW nuclear rockets would be launched to land on the comet nose first and to move the comet sunward just enough to miss the earth. To GTHO nuclear powered generation ships would be launched carrying the seed of humanity out to the stars. This is considered to be the most important event in the history of man. It has been called The Chaotic Diaspora.

In The Chaotic Diaspora many tales were told.

This is the start to this story on Collab. Collab is a social network for collaborative writing. If you want to contribute to this or other stories on Collab you can create an account here.

Collab, a collaborative writing game.

Monday, February 26, 2018

I Dreamed That I Woke Up

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Artwork by Dieterich01 available on Pixabay. Public domain.

I Dreamed That I Woke Up
by Larry Heyl CC-BY

I dreamed that I woke up and walked into the living room and sat down at my computer. Then, when I woke up I was afraid to walk into the living room because I thought I might find myself sitting there. “This is silly.”, I said to myself, and I went ahead and walked right in and sat at my computer. But then I thought maybe I already left while I was still sleeping. So I got up and locked the door to keep myself from coming in.

When I heard a knock on the door I was worried that I had returned home. But I unlocked it anyway and it was only my friend Fred. I told him what was going on in my head and we both had a big laugh.

Then I heard a knock at the door. I was worried it might be me but it wasn’t. When I went to open the door it was Fred.

I guess he dreamed that he woke up too.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

AI Autocomplete

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Fantasy art by kellepics on Pixabay. Public domain.

AI Autocomplete
by Larry Heyl CC-BY

In the future everyone will have AI Autocomplete, first for writing, then for talking. The AI will be so good that it soon starts guessing right 100% of the time. People select the Just Say It For Me option since their AI Autocomplete always guesses right.

This is the future of humanity, packhorses for AI Autocompletes talking to each other.

Or is it already happening now?

Friday, December 29, 2017

Damn dragons, get off my lawn! by Lyn Thorne-Alder

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Thanks to Sodacan for drawing this Red Dragon Badge Of Wales and releasing it CC-BY-SA

Here’s a super short by Lyn Thorne-Alder.

Damn dragons, get off my lawn!

I think you should go read it.

Monday, December 25, 2017

6 words

wizard-pixabay.png

Wizard vector art, public domain, thanks to Pixabay.

(The wizard cast Reverse Chronos)repeat

by Larry Heyl, 2017
CC-BY

Hat tip to
The Embodiment of RED
@beefasil@nfg.zone
and Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

ShadowJack

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ShadowJack - First Bloom - A Chronicle Of Humanity’s Future In Space

Available on bandcamp

More at Dark Photon Studio

Shadowjack has several albums here. The songs are available under Creative Commons licenses. The music is electronic.

First Bloom is part of a multimedia science fiction chronicle of humanity’s expansion throughout the galaxy.

Shane Edward Semler is Shadowjack .

Friday, August 11, 2017

Technological Singularity

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Lime Singularity by David Trowbridge CC-BY-SA

TECHNOLOGICAL SINGULARITY

© 1993 by Vernor Vinge

(This article may be reproduced for noncommercial purposes if it is copied in its entirety, including this notice.)

The original version of this article was presented at the VISION-21 Symposium sponsored by NASA Lewis Research Center and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, March 30-31, 1993. A slightly changed version appeared in the Winter 1993 issue of Whole Earth Review.

1. What Is The Singularity?
The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this century. We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater-than-human intelligence. Science may achieve this breakthrough by several means (and this is another reason for having confidence that the event will occur):

Computers that are “awake” and superhumanly intelligent may be developed. (To date, there has been much controversy as to whether we can create human equivalence in a machine. But if the answer is “yes,” then there is little doubt that more intelligent beings can be constructed shortly thereafter.)

Large computer networks and their associated users may “wake up” as superhumanly intelligent entities.

Computer/human interfaces may become so intimate that users may reasonably be considered superhumanly intelligent.

Biological science may provide means to improve natural human intellect.

The first three possibilities depend on improvements in computer hardware. Progress in hardware has followed an amazingly steady curve in the last few decades. Based on this trend, I believe that the creation of greater-than-human intelligence will occur during the next thirty years. (Charles Platt has pointed out that AI enthusiasts have been making claims like this for thirty years. Just so I’m not guilty of a relative-time ambiguity, let me be more specific: I’ll be surprised if this event occurs before 2005 or after 2030.)

What are the consequences of this event? When greater-than-human intelligence drives progress, that progress will be much more rapid. In fact, there seems no reason why progress itself would not involve the creation of still more intelligent entities — on a still-shorter time scale. The best analogy I see is to the evolutionary past: Animals can adapt to problems and make inventions, but often no faster than natural selection can do its work — the world acts as its own simulator in the case of natural selection. We humans have the ability to internalize the world and conduct what-if’s in our heads; we can solve many problems thousands of times faster than natural selection could. Now, by creating the means to execute those simulations at much higher speeds, we are entering a regime as radically different from our human past as we humans are from the lower animals.

This change will be a throwing-away of all the human rules, perhaps in the blink of an eye — an exponential runaway beyond any hope of control. Developments that were thought might only happen in “a million years” (if ever) will likely happen in the next century.

It’s fair to call this event a singularity (”the Singularity” for the purposes of this piece). It is a point where our old models must be discarded and a new reality rules, a point that will loom vaster and vaster over human affairs until the notion becomes a commonplace. Yet when it finally happens, it may still be a great surprise and a greater unknown. In the 1950s very few saw it: Stan Ulam1 paraphrased John von Neumann as saying:

One conversation centered on the ever-accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.

Von Neumann even uses the term singularity, though it appears he is thinking of normal progress, not the creation of superhuman intellect. (For me, the superhumanity is the essence of the Singularity. Without that we would get a glut of technical riches, never properly absorbed.)

The 1960s saw recognition of some of the implications of superhuman intelligence. I. J. Good2 wrote:

Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an “intelligence explosion,” and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control. . . . It is more probable than not that, within the twentieth century, an ultraintelligent machine will be built and that it will be the last invention that man need make.

Good has captured the essence of the runaway, but he does not pursue its most disturbing consequences. Any intelligent machine of the sort he describes would not be humankind’s “tool” — any more than humans are the tools of rabbits, robins, or chimpanzees.

Through the sixties and seventies and eighties, recognition of the cataclysm spread. Perhaps it was the science-fiction writers who felt the first concrete impact. After all, the “hard” science-fiction writers are the ones who try to write specific stories about all that technology may do for us. More and more, these writers felt an opaque wall across the future. Once, they could put such fantasies millions of years in the future. Now they saw that their most diligent extrapolations resulted in the unknowable . . . soon. Once, galactic empires might have seemed a Posthuman domain. Now, sadly, even interplanetary ones are.

What about the coming decades, as we slide toward the edge? How will the approach of the Singularity spread across the human world view? For a while yet, the general critics of machine sapience will have good press. After all, until we have hardware as powerful as a human brain it is probably foolish to think we’ll be able to create human-equivalent (or greater) intelligence. (There is the farfetched possibility that we could make a human equivalent out of less powerful hardware — if we were willing to give up speed, if we were willing to settle for an artificial being that was literally slow. But it’s much more likely that devising the software will be a tricky process, involving lots of false starts and experimentation. If so, then the arrival of self-aware machines will not happen until after the development of hardware that is substantially more powerful than humans’ natural equipment.)

But as time passes, we should see more symptoms. The dilemma felt by science-fiction writers will be perceived in other creative endeavors. (I have heard thoughtful comicbook writers worry about how to create spectacular effects when everything visible can be produced by the technologically commonplace.) We will see automation replacing higher- and higher-level jobs. We have tools right now (symbolic math programs, cad/cam) that release us from most low-level drudgery. Put another way: the work that is truly productive is the domain of a steadily smaller and more elite fraction of humanity. In the coming of the Singularity, we will see the predictions of true technological unemployment finally come true.

Another symptom of progress toward the Singularity: ideas themselves should spread ever faster, and even the most radical will quickly become commonplace.

And what of the arrival of the Singularity itself? What can be said of its actual appearance? Since it involves an intellectual runaway, it will probably occur faster than any technical revolution seen so far. The precipitating event will likely be unexpected — perhaps even by the researchers involved (”But all our previous models were catatonic! We were just tweaking some parameters . . .”). If networking is widespread enough (into ubiquitous embedded systems), it may seem as if our artifacts as a whole had suddenly awakened.

And what happens a month or two (or a day or two) after that? I have only analogies to point to: The rise of humankind. We will be in the Posthuman era. And for all my technological optimism, I think I’d be more comfortable if I were regarding these transcendental events from one thousand years’ remove . . . instead of twenty.

[Read More…]

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Stellardrone - Between The Rings

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Stellardrone - Between The Rings

https://stellardrone … ck/between-the-rings

The tags say it all.

tags: ambient ambient cinematic electronic soundscape space music Lithuania

Note the cinematic.

Here’s the song titles.

1. To The Great Beyond 05:34
2. Breathe In The Light 05:02
3. Rendezvous With Rama 06:13
4. Northern Lights 05:05
5. Between The Rings 05:07

There’s a definite SFF theme going there.

These songs are CC-BY so if you need some music for your Science Fiction movie, here you go.