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Invading Aliens? No, They’re Exchange Students. (With Input from Stephen Wolfram)

Alien invasions and interspecies war are played-out tropes. In my Sqinks novel, sqink aliens are arriving. And I was going to have it be an alien invasion. But then I thought to ask Stephen Wolfram for a better idea.

Me: What do the invading aliens want from us?

Stephen Anthropology? Understand an alien mind to understand yours better? [And leverage someone else’s irreducible computation.] At least, that’s what I would want.

Me: That’s a bit cryptic. Her’s a follow-up question. If we regard minds as computations, these are “irreducible” computations, that is, processes whose outcomes cannot be readily predicted. The only way to predict the outcome of a thought process is simply to emulate it all the way through. This restriction applies to everyone, even to aliens. So how would looking at human thought processes give an alien some “leverage” on predicting their own thought processes?

Stephen: If I’m so curious about how a whale thinks about the world, and believe I might “expand myself in rulial space” / “expand my paradigms” by knowing … perhaps the aliens will be curious too. I don’t think it’s so much leveraging a single human mind as the whole consistent(?) structure of knowledge/language/culture that we’ve built up. Though of course I’m projecting 🙂

Me. And here I am mulling this over…

Wolfram’s not talking about the irreducible nature of the evolution of an individual mind, but about the evolution of a social group. And that goes back to “anthropology.”

In Sqinks I might say that each sqink is here to partner up with an individual human to get to know their social mind and social mode of thought. Like people buying dogs…or dogs seeking masters…or kinky lovers seeking alien mates.

Or like an overseas exchange student lodging with a family. Let’s go with that. A sqink lodges with a human family. And later, dig this twist, the human host lodges with a sqink family!

Perfect! Multichapter scenario! My hero and heroine lodging with the sqinks. Almost breaks up their romance—but love conquers all.

Think of a “farmers market” scenario where some people are taking sqinks home with them, encouraging the sqinks with gifts. But not every human shopper is selected for a partnership. Maybe the quality of your gift to a given sqink has something to do with whether they move in with you. Or your vibe.

Also note that if the sqinks are telepathic, the partnership doesn’t absolutely have to involve “moving in together” right away. Maybe once in a while they don’t move in immediately, but they find you later on. Like a back-alley sex-worker or drug-dealer comes to your house. Like, they’re waitin’ for you at home.

“Eek, sqink!”

“Don’t worry, I’m your new assistant.”

This is a nice gloss on acquiring a (possibly uninvited) AI assistant. Like the “Copilot” that shows up on my Windows toolbar now. Or the “AI Overview” that Google pops up after a search. Perfect. The copilot or overview is mining my data, but helping be with its hive-mind record of its compatriots mining the other humans.

That’s a good transreal hook. The sqinks “are” AI assistants. Student exchange? How would it feel to turn the tables and go be a lodger in the cyberspace land of AIs?

But of course it’s much more interesting to think of the Sqinkland that I have in my novel, where the organizing principle of cause-and-effect is replaced by universal synchronicity. More interesting, put I’m having to put in a lot of work to figure it out! As the old SF writer’s motto goes: Pile on the Bullshit and Keep a Straight Face!

Going back to having a sqink lodger, if a sqink lives with you, they’re certainly going to give you good (probably good, unless your sqink has nasty ulterior motives, and eventually it will) advice about what to do. Just like how Microsoft Copilot or Google AI Overview knows stuff from the web.

To be continued…in my novel Sqinks. And that photo’s not me. It’s a sqink I’ve been hanging around with; he uses the name Bart Nagel.

One Response to “Invading Aliens? No, They’re Exchange Students. (With Input from Stephen Wolfram)”

  1. Alex McLaren Says:

    About Invading Aliens and your previous blog post The Reality of the Fourth Dimension, have you read The 3 Body Problem trilogy? I would love to know your take on it. Especially the Parts about the uses of 2D and 4D. His Dark Forest hypothesis as an answer to the Fermi paradox is an interesting idea even if a bit depressing…

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