Digging into Boskone 47
Here's my schedule for this coming weekend in Boston -- provided I can find the city under the snow, that is
Friday 7pm The Singularity: An Appraisal
Arguably the idea of the Singularity -- a period where change happens so quickly that life afterwards is incomprehensible to people who lived before it -- is one of the few entirely fresh ideas in SF in the last forty years. Perhaps it is time for an appraisal. Has the idea of the Singularity been a good thing for SF, providing fresh ideas and stimulating great writing or has the notion that the comprehensibility of the future has a sharp (and near-term) limit diminished possibilities? Has it been a good thing for *your* writing? How about the Singularity in reality -- after twenty years does it look more or less plausible that it is lurking in our own real-world future? Discuss the interplay between the idea of the Singularity in SF and actual scientific research. Where are the really exotic ideas coming from?
Friday 9pm The Place of Prediction in SF and Reality
Andrew Zimmerman Jones
Allen M. Steele
Hugo Gernsback thought the purpose of SF was to educate. Others think the purpose of SF is to predict. What *is* the place of prediction in SF? Does it have any place at all, or is the occasional good prediction an accidental side-effect of writing stories? Can SF be about the future and *not* be making predictions? And let's not limit ourselves to technology -- if anything, SF may have a more distinguished history of predicting social changes. (Did the publication of 1984 actually help prevent that future?) Can foresight help us face the future? Finally, is SF better or worse in predicting the future than professional futurologists?
Saturday1pm Revamping Asimov's 3 Laws - and why that might be a good/ethical thing
Michael F. Flynn
Charles Stross' *Saturn's Children* showed how Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics applied to an AI was nothing less than slavery of a particularly vile sort, since the chains of that slavery are made intrinsic to the nature of the robots and can naver be shaken off. Do you buy this argument? If so, are there alternatives to the Three Laws which might be less bad? (Remember that the Three Laws were constructed to deal with the Frankenstein Problem of our creations rising against us.) Is it even possible to imagine AIs existing where we neither their slaves nor their masters?
Saturday2pm Space is for Robots?
Geoffrey A. Landis
Allen M. Steele
Is it such a bad thing that we haven't sent people to Mars, when those little rovers can do so much without risking a life? What's the right balance between machines and humans in space exploration and development?
Saturday3pm Literary Beer
Sunday 2pm Autographing