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Me, SF Prophet

I revealed earlier how my 30-year-old story "Snow" predicted miniature flying drones capable of recording thousands of hours of a particular subject's life, and called (as at least one current model is) a Wasp.  I am absolutely (not) certain I was the first.

Now here's an article on Big Data and how we are to begin to understand the quasi-physics and quasi-biology of digital information increasing at the rate of 5 trillion bits a second, and how that understanding will produce, or require, a new set of laws of human behavior.  Hari Seldon is referenced, naturally, but a more pertinent picture was in my 1989 story "In Blue," which posited a number of new analytic tools (coincidence magnitude calculation, the differential social calculus, act-field theory) with which wise social engineers could enter and be usefully influenced by the universal data stream.  I didn't then own a computer and knew nothing about them, which of course does not inhibit the true prophet.  The fact that my analytics were entirely imaginary is no drawback either, surely.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 5th, 2012 01:23 pm (UTC)
In the realms of technology imaginary is preferable to based on current knowledge as that tends to date especially if extrapolated into the future. I'm thinking of all the old science fiction films where the computers were big banks of dials, flashing lights and mechanical voices.
Isn't the problem with the stock market these days that they think they have solved the problem of the human factor in trading only to find the human factor then takes a surprise right turn and runs off a cliff or was never behaving in the manner they assumed. As Asimov himself observed in Foundation and Empire an unpredictable yet significant individual can completely skew things.
Jun. 5th, 2012 08:20 pm (UTC)
Was "Act Theory" fictional within the context of "In Blue"?
Obviously, it was fictional in the sense that it doesn't exist in the real world, but I remember a character questioning whether act theory was a real science or just dogma used to convince the populace that the leading class was working from a scientific plan. Was this supposed to be an open ended question or is there a "correct" answer?
Jun. 5th, 2012 09:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Was "Act Theory" fictional within the context of "In Blue"?
There isn't a correct answer. The opposing positions were Tom Disch, who believed absolutely that the whole ruling paradigm was a scam and a hoax to keep power over people. ANother SF writer (name I forget) wrote to say that he not only thought the science functioned with in the society but was highly suggestive as possible science. I of course don't have to take an opinion. My favorite moment in the story, though, is when the main character, struggling with doubts, meets the woman he once knew at camp, who then believed that act theory was imaginary but did the job anyway. Now she is high in heterarchy (as they call it) and he askes her if she still thinks that. "No, I don't," she says. And no more.
Jun. 6th, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Was "Act Theory" fictional within the context of "In Blue"?
And is this "Act Theory" the same that George Mouse drew upon as inspiration for his fireworks show?
Jun. 6th, 2012 09:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Was "Act Theory" fictional within the context of "In Blue"?
It is the same. I drew it from the writings of Suzanne Langer, "Mind: an Essay in Human Feeling", which I regard as a wonderfully original conception, though she was too close to her own end to finish it properly.George Mouse describes it correctly. She didn't call it "act-field theory," that was my joking version or vision. It appears somewhere else in my work as well, but I can't remember now where.
Jun. 6th, 2012 09:47 pm (UTC)
Off topic:

I bought a copy of "Otherwise" for Kindle and have been rereading "The Deep". Sadly, the text is marred by a large number of typos, or more likely 'scannos' -- it's hard to believe that any human being would mistype "the" as "me" and "die", among others. Distracting. Clearly, the Kindle "Otherwise" was never proofread by anyone who loved it. (And it's not just this one book; I see frequent dumb errors in most ebooks transcribed from older books.)

It'd be nice if publishers could somehow put the source text for ebooks up in the cloud somehow, so readers who care can find and fix the errors. I don't know how it could be done without allowing everyone and his dog to download copyrighted works for free; nor do I think that you personally have the clout to make Amazon change their model. But maybe authors collectively can think of some ways to improve the quality control for ebook distribution of your works; I'm sure you must have the desire.
Jun. 6th, 2012 10:03 pm (UTC)
Well if they had asked me I would have done it myself, no charge.

More signs of strained seams in the Matrix. What was to be perfect replication is not. Humans can know it but machines can't. Maybe better in future, or maybe we will (like medieval monks reading copied manuscripts) just learn to accept a certain level of inane errors and unintelligible tangle.
Colin Wernham
Jun. 7th, 2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
The Artificial Kid
Bruce Sterling's "The Artificial Kid" (1980) features personal video drones recording everything. I haven't read it for 20 years so the details are a bit vague in my head!
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