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Brainstorms About The Orphidnet. Visit with Greg Benford

Almost cleaned up from Xmas now. About two weeks ago I asked for some thoughts on “Life After The Singularity”. Here’s some choice thoughts from the comments, with my own remarks in square brackets. For illos today, I’ll put in some pictures I took recently. The first two I got while walking around the Cantor Art Center at Stanford with fellow SF writer Greg Benford yesterday. This first picture shows Greg with a Louis-Ernst Barrias sculpture entitled, “Nature Unveiling Herself Before Science.” Very harrumph fine piece of work.

Brian B. I'm assuming the orphids and beezies are neutral agents. [Yes. The orphids are neutral at a hardware level, and the beezies who emerge in the orphidnet aren’t going to care that much about us — although it may be that they want to affect people to create more or better orphids.]

[Rudy and Greg with a sculpture called “Dangerous Brain Bowl”, part of a “Fired at Davis” show at the Cantor Art Center.]

Steve H. How easy/hard would it be to hack orphids? [I think I’ll say this is impossible, at least for the story I’m currently working on. The orphids out there, autonomous, neutral, incorruptible, always on, like a force of nature.]

Would lack of privacy turn us all into blushing wallflowers or egomaniacs. [Good issue. An objective correlative for blogging.]

What kind of cursing-out could you give someone if you could accompany it with a Powerpoint show in 3D? [Yes, I see virtual Smiley faces and emoticons in 3D. Also models of rude things.]

[Photo of an African ancestor mask in the De Young Museum in SF.]

If I wanted to become President would I campaign to the humans or the beezies? [I think the beezies are neutral about our politics. But they might sell info to a party that helps their campaign. I’m seeing a deal between the beezies and some oilmen who control a supply of piezoplastic they want to use for shoon bodies.]

Would the orphids get mad if we brushed off our chairs before sitting down, or painted a surface they were stuck to? Would they stick to wet paint, or maple syrup? Could you get a picture of your colon anytime from the orphids you just ate? [I’m thinking of the orphids as lively enough to squirm out from under paint, and sticky enough that you can’t brush them off. I hadn’t thought about the ones you swallow. We might as well suppose that all of our body cavities are lined with orphids as well.]

[Also in the DeYoung.]

Still Steve H. With orphids in our ears we wouldn't need iPods. [Right. They’re like lice on our heads to give everyone broadband orphidnet hookup. I’d been thinking of them putting sounds in your head via nerve stim, but its nice to think of them making noise in the ear as well.]

How would Metallica keep everyone from downloading their album as they recorded it? [Good point. I guess intellectual property is tougher than ever. Of course watching someone record an album or write a book takes a lot longer than just getting the finished product. And there’s still something nice about the physical object.]

The Golden Man defense has attack points: “Get uphill and drop rocks on 'em. Put the precognition-defended people in positions where knowing doesn't help.” [Good point. But if you’re precognition is good enough, nobody’s ever gonna get you into a tight spot like that.]

Thomas Terashima. What exactly do the beezies want? [I’m thinking they will want physical bodies. I’m considering various kinds of bodies. In exchance for certain kinds of bodies, the beezies might actually “pay” people by giving them high-quality predictions.]

Currency will be replaced by virtual coupons for orphid swarm resources. [Great idea. That plugs right into my own line of thought.]

Marshall. I would like to start an oasis where electricity didn't work and you just breathed air. [Wouldn’t we all! The orphidnet is a kind of symbol for the invasive pervasive wireless world. Maybe the oasis guys can be ‘control naturals.’]


This is a faerie baby I happened to encounter in the Big Basin woods! She had with her a map of the spiral galaxy she comes from.

4 Responses to “Brainstorms About The Orphidnet. Visit with Greg Benford”

  1. gamma Says:

    what is it about yer pix that make me smile & CRY AT the same time together – increased intelligence?
    solomon greater key of c#?
    love 2 yu all – it was nice to see a pic of Greg – and i reread the CyberPunk thing in TRANSREAL

  2. Bascule Says:

    I wrote quite an enormous reply to your whole “Postsingularity” entry which I guess I tried to post to the wrong entry and ended up never posting at all.
    My first thought was that it’s quite similar to what Eric Drexler proposed in Engines of Creation would be needed to protect the world from out-of-control replicators: an even bigger network of benevolently controlled replicators that could outconsume whatever destructive replicators were trying to wreak havoc. My second thought was they resembled what Kurzweil described as “foglets”
    So that leads me of the question of whether or not you wanted them to be more than self-replicators, but full blown von Neumann universal constructors that can build *anything*.
    When you have a nanomachine which comprises the von Neumann universal constructor, and a complex sensory node, and a computer, and a digital storage device, which can communicate via a mesh wireless network with innumerable copies of itself, you have the ultimate platform upon which consciousness can spread itself throughout the universe.
    My real question becomes once we have such a device, loaded with benevolent strong AI who ensures that everyone is protected, why remain human at all? Wouldn’t there be a much richer existence if you could let the von Neumann universal constructor gobble you up and transfer your neural pattern into a distributed, computerized environment where you could think considerably faster, have instantaneous access to an incomprehensible wealth of information and sensory experiences (through the nanobots), and be rendered completely immune from death?
    Bored? Why not put your conscious process to “sleep” and have yourself awakened in the future so you can have a whole new set of changes to begin taking in?
    I suppose the debate between keeping your brain primarily biological and dumping your consciousness into a computer will be quite a contentious one. This question (whether to gain immortality as a machine or preserve your humanity) formed the central concept of Reiji Matsumoto’s Galaxy Express 999… (in the end, the main character chose to preserve his humanity)
    ( you can visit my blog at )

  3. Steve H Says:

    Ugh. I suspect that having a clone in cyberspace wouldn’t be much consolation to me for being ‘put to sleep.’No way I’d choose death, just make another, bigger, me. If I vastened myself, the new me would spend all its time looking out for my real body – sure it would, or it wouldn’t be me.
    It sounds good, but I’d much sooner live in a real biosphere where I could have actual experiences than be software simulating actuality. Sure, I could have a virtual dog, but it wouldn’t really be my dog, and if it crapped the rug it would be an ideal crap on a virtual rug. One of the great weaknesses of the human mind is its ability to live in a fantasy world; how many people could actually cope with an unreal existence?
    I’d like to leave a virtual copy of myself behind when I go, all right; one that was capable of managing my affairs and offering some support to my living family.
    Probably result in me having to work forever with no possible retirement. Let’s not tell the government about this for a while, fellas…

  4. Steve H Says:

    Didja notice that if you google that NATURE EXPOSING HERSELF statue it’s stolen property? Maybe there are many copies, like The Scream?

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