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Focus Group Query: What Do You Want in Postsingular?

I could really use some comments on things you’d like to see in a novel about the world after a Singularity which links us all into a supercomputational “orphidnet” web which contains superintelligent emergent AIs, a supremely intelligent God-like AI called the Big Pig, and which allows for intelligence amplification, turning individuals into IQ 1000 “kiqqies.”

The art, the cuisine, the culture, the sex, the sports, the consumer products, the architecture, the language, the mores — what changes would you most like to read about?

In other words, I’m still playing with the outline for my Postsingular novel, considering a drastic revamp of what I had in mind.

Today, lying on my yoga mat in the back yard thinking about all the plot possibilities, I briefly felt as if the ground under me were gently rocking, as if I were on a raft floating out into an unquiet sea. Unsure where I’ll fetch up. But I’m sure I won’t drown.

I need to have a clearer picture of the interface to the orphidnet that a person has via the scalp orphids connection. You close your eyes and see your body in your surroundings. You can zoom out to see the Earth globe, then zoom in where you like. A ghostly body comes with you, although this ghostly body’s shape is customizable. You wear a toolbelt. Messages come in at you like flying letters. You can swat them, or autoswat them, you can tell what they are by how they look. But they may camouflage themselves.

One thing I keep thinking about is how it would feel to encounter spam ads, and set up filters to block them. If you really want to keep spam ads out, you can wear a tinfoil hat, I guess, though that’s kind of bathetic. I don't want my characters to seem like schizo saucer nuts… Even if there really are voices in the air!

You can instant-message a spoken or silent conversation back and forth. You can send someone a link, it’s like an egg they crack open. A link and a message are rather similar, a link is an egg, a message is a letter.

A person can wear an ad on their back, so that when you look at them, you see the ad, like the spikes on a stegosaurus. Or maybe it’s more like a halo. You can look at your own orphids and have them glow according to how often they’re being hit by viewers.

Intrigues are hampered by the fact that everyone can see and hear everything in the orphidnet world. The one somewhat secure channel of communication is via a crude sort of verbal cell-phone-like telepathy mediated by the orphidnet. This is hard to eavesdrop on, also you can use emoticon codes. Or you can sit inside a Faraday cage I suppose.

I’d like to have my heros not only be able talk in secret but be able to sneak around — for plot purposes. I think I’ll just go for it and say that the kiqqies can ask the Big Pig to turn off their orphids “send position info” and “reflect a ping” features so they can be invisible in the orphidnet. Underground.

Two quotes about the beloved Big Pig. Getting high by contacting the Big Pig is similar to the experience of a devout person becoming ecstatic through prayer.

“…the outrageously rich and intricate Big Pig like a birthday piata stuffed with beautiful insights woven into ideas that linked into unifying concepts that puzzle-pieced themselves into powerful systems that were in turn aspects of a cosmic metatheory — aha! Hooking into the billion-snouted billion-nippled Big Pig made Jayjay feel like more than a genius.”

And “…here were the billion snouts, tails, trotters, and flop-ears of the Big Pig, the meta-beezie atop the trillion-strong beezie hierarchy, the eye on the pyramid whose base held the sextillion networked orphids of Earth.”

Help me, Big Pig and dear readers.

17 Responses to “Focus Group Query: What Do You Want in Postsingular?”

  1. Chris Farrell Says:

    In this situation, would these intelligence increases be expensive, leaving the luxury only to the rich? Would this further grasp that big corportations have on America, and also the social and economic hierarcy? Maybe in a cyberpunk sort of sense the rich and the big corporations have some much money and so much intelligence increases that they basically take over the whole world and become oppressive, maybe even corrupting the Big Pig as well–leaving the world under control of an evil Big Pig as well—-leading to your heroes maybe, the resonsibilty of overthrowing?
    By the way, Would this novel have Transreal elements? If not what type of narrative are you shooting for?

  2. gamma Says:

    if the big pig was a gregarious nocturnal wild swine with a curly tale implanted with insideamijigz & the tale was turning as the dark matter attracted it into a cider place with apples & pears… dunno but it will be be pork or ham?

  3. Alan Says:

    I think people would view the big pig as a higher life form from human beings and would therefore try to worship it. Humans would continually keep trying to seek out its wisdom and guidance in their lives. The big pig would then be constantly bombarded with human queries asking for advice and help. Would the big pig have enough computational power to interact with every human in the world at the same time? Or maybe it wouldn’t be interested at all. Maybe it would only interact with a select few that it found worthy of its presence. Of course it couldn’t answer everybodies prayers and therefore the big pig acts in mysterious ways. Does the big pig have a master plan for humanity or is it just pursuing its own interests?
    I’d like to know how people will deal with “tell-hell”. Where a whole bunch of people decide to talk to you all at the same time. Also the scope of your messages could be private tells to one person, group messages, or a world-wide shout!
    I like the idea of brain-hacked zombie people. They could have a virus running in their mind that wakes up and takes them over for a period of time. Makes them do things and them erases thier memory of what they did.
    I would like the orphids to archive my memories. So I could remember anything from my past, any day in full detail if I wanted to. And even take a look at other people’s memories if they were publicly accessable. Maybe I could specify which memories were ok for public sharing or specify a group of people that could access my thoughts.

  4. benign Says:

    “One thing I keep thinking about is how it would feel to encounter spam ads, and set up filters to block them.”
    I think this is important, and not just as it relates to spam, but also the barrage of information likely to come with such an interface as the orphidnet.
    Let’s say you’re walking down the street. Unless you’re really making an effort to feel and appreciate the wind, chances are good that you aren’t noticing how it tugs at the individual hairs on your head.
    It’s such a torrent of useless information that you just tune it out. The question is, will we be able to adapt to do this with spam and other orphidnet phenomena?
    It seems like you’ve given quite a bit of thought to how we might extend our minds out into the orphidnet, but I’m curious about the other direction. To what extent will we (via the orphids) have access to manipulate our own thought processes?
    I’m really interested to see if/how you deal with this aspect of human/orphidnet interaction.
    Looking forward to hearing more about the novel,

  5. COOP Says:

    One one level, I am loving this process of publicly hashing out the concepts for your next book, but it’s also a bit of a bummer, because I love the mindfuckery when these new ideas jump outta the book by surprise and smack you in the forehead!

  6. COOP Says:

    I think that the relationship between the humans and non-big pig AIs could resemble an medieval/renaissance artist/patron relationship. The AIs are smart/rich, but smart/rich folks get bored, and would place a premium on those persons/objects/ideas which would lessen that boredom. Perhaps the quid pro quo of that relationship would involve AIs helping said interesting humans escape the orphidnet when desired. I could see that, with scarcity problems licked, most humans moving into the future equivalent of serfdom, a sort of protected lower status, with advancement only available to those who could best work the system, by moving through the AI/ kiqqie court, as they would in the past by being an soldier/artisan/entertainer, or through the Church.

  7. jhn Says:

    I am interested in the day-to-day, routine, and boring activities of foreign cultures generally than I am in special things. I think that knowing what people of a certain culture eat for breakfast tells you more about them than their religious festivals and national holidays. I think that a novel on what it’s like in some transreal posthuman world ought to focus on small, trivial things.

  8. gamma Says:

    the big pig goes to Mount Kilimanjaro 2 organise the winter olympigs like is just a lot of sport on ice & snow but they have cloud seeding signals which make Mt.Fuji look like a dot on a large mass of space called Gnowhereiam? they get there snow boarids 2 compete withinn it.

  9. gamma Says:

    the big pig with enlarged curly tail & snout growing larger thinx “what if the winter olympigs was held in a real kool place like Pluto – what a frozen gas that could be” .- while they were assembling mt.kilimanjaro next 2 the depot near the port central – mt.fuji – they opened the games with a spectacular gala & painted the stars like a dot to dot think fer the kidz 2 do

  10. lanny Says:

    hio Rudy,
    you’ve read the stross of course
    which has a few of these scenarios played with,
    but i’d say as to the feel, you might include
    the “squirt” as in spam blocking itself might use an inset conceit.. if you had access to a random set of software-objects as in object based programming,
    maybe the spam would be seen then as a matching geometry, you see the spam, match its api morphology
    zip track to a range of morph and load the squirt
    from a libary, sort of like shot-gun troubleshooting
    but the nifty think, in the squirt is perhaps some hybrid modulating, the patterns are rough and something non-intelligent is writing the code like a toaster, in other words, you’ve got micro-selves or amybe like slave broca’s in there with you, and maybe they do talk or accept commonads and modulate commands, something like that, loved lifebox,
    and course the cannibal brain eating robots, cool to see your blog!

  11. Marshall Bolton Says:

    What I would like from Postsingular is some answers. I imagine the blurb saying: THIS BOOK WILL CHANGE THE WORLD.
    Numbers have been crunched – answers have to be given.
    I imagine a scene in the book where all the connected heads sit down at an appointed time and try to answer a koan eg. “What’s it all about, Harry?” Or some such thing.
    The Big Pig gives a hint or remains stubbornly silent….
    The actual physical book should contain a battery-driven sound generator (little piglet grunts perhaps) and a satchel of “synthetic
    dandruff”. The Big Pig would like the readers to repeat this collective experiment. The seventh of July 2007 @ 7 AM (some standard time) everyone should put this stfuff in their hair, sit down by their computer and ask themselves the self same question with answers routed to Rudy’s blog.

  12. european reader Says:

    “Getting high by contacting the Big Pig is similar to the experience of a devout person becoming ecstatic through prayer.”
    Hmm devout persons do not get high through prayer. Prayer or meditation should calm you down normally. Ecstasy, loss of clear thinking should be evil religion, like born-agains. Zombified morons who get fed conspiracy theories that the world is flat and anti-pig is out to get them or something.
    Plus, I keep asking myself what is the DRIVE behind this orphid-thing. How is it different from good old cyberspace? What’s it for?
    Did you read Light by MJ Harrison. He actually used these clicheed SF-plots to create a story about people, their troubles and ideals, roads not taken and triumph and all that.
    I so dug your moon boppers and their vedic/buddhist cosmology cast in metal – contacting the Big One thats just a random-noise generator, collecting ‘karma metal’ for another rebirth. Now that was cool. But nowadays we’re all a bit jaded with the technology. There will realistically be a pocket device that holds all human knowledge plus a non-stop video of your life in about 25 years… what do people make of it? Will it bring about an end to fear and paranoia or just unlimited knowledge that will inevitably be used for evil purposes?

  13. Rogue Says:

    For what its worth, the very concept that there is a cyber god/goddess would make a huge upriseing in the various religous sects. Christians , Wiccans, jewish etc all would deny it and its exsistance, this will most definatly cause a major clash. Considering the histories on religous war, how should this be any different. Know the Subtle abilities of the churches, i wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to “make there own god” to compete with the big pig.Not to mention that a bunch of open source and freeware coder kids would want to make there own personal god/goddess. and not to mention that the compition between this emergent pantheon would bring about conflicts that effects real world. and the whole net would also effect the subconsious, and vice versa. I’m thinking the apperance of a greek type sociaty that conflicts with more modern system.

  14. emilio Says:

    sex! Sex is going to be the thing that keeps me connected to my humaness. Since all of my other needs are going to be met sex becomes the one thing that I can only have so much of. It is also what is going to set me apart from the AI. Likewise the AI will want to understand this thing. Sex asks an ultimately spirtual question. What am I? The struggle will be over identity. I think the even would over through almost all existing philosophical and religious ideas, but it won’t answer the untimate questions.

  15. BrianB Says:

    It makes me think that any sort of celebrity status would be something to avoid at all costs – the current culture in reverse. Kinda like in Frek & the Elixer with all the aliens wanting to watch you, except now it’s your friends and neighbors and everyone around you. It would drive everyone into a hole, I think – move on, nothing to see here.

  16. Steve H Says:

    Rudy, the ‘Nektar’ excerpt seems to show you’re on the right path – much clearer to demonstrate popup brain spam in a paragraph then to spend a page describing it. Better as jhn says to show what they have for breakfast.
    It seems privacy concerns would increase with orphids – everybody’s up in yo’ grill all the time, honkin’ they horns. I’d definitely want my bedroom insulated.
    I suspect you could use the Big Pig to check huge calculations like chaotic hurricanes and where every dime in the world goes, but you could just remember the answer and not much of the process that got you that answer. (Would orphid spam contain much pig, or just McPork?) Why does the Big Pig talk to us? Is it bored, benevolent, baneful?
    Also you could use it to level the corporate/financial field: you have the same access to info that corporations have, and given budget, the same ability to hire subcontractors.
    Culture would explode – everyone would ‘get’ everyone else’s references. I’d expect a lot of ‘rediscoveries,’ where some artform or image or novel that was overlooked in its day would become ubiquitous for a week (Beany and Cecil everywhere!). Possibly there would be artforms that required an IQ of 1000 to understand, or an orphidnet connection to see. What if you were a Picasso at one of these forms, until you logged off and became ordinary?

  17. ent Says:

    It is also what is going to set me apart from the AI. Likewise the AI will want to understand this thing. Sex asks an ultimately spirtual question. What am I? The struggle will be over identity.

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