RE: Diaspora, the future of AI & value systems, etc.

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Mon Dec 11 2000 - 14:36:53 MST


> They aren't *supposed* to be AIs. They're supposed to be uploaded humans,
> or rather, their descendants.
> The only actual refugee of the flesh, I believe, is Orlando. The only
> actual AI is probably the Contingency Handler.

I got the impression that Yatima was supposed to be an actual AI -- or at
a synthesized quasi-human -- not an uploaded human...

Anyway, my guess is that uploaded humans will deviate a lot further from
current human
psychology than is depicted in this novel...

> All the characters are utterly human. Not "watered-down", I didn't get
> that impression; but neither of transhuman intelligence, nor departing
> significantly from the human cognitive architecture. There are people
> alive in today's world who are less human than Yatima, Inoshiro, or
> Blanca.

Sure. My taste in literature runs to Dostoevsky, Phil Dick, Kobo Abe, and
so forth,
so I admittedly have a weakness for the extreme perverse and complex cases
of human

> Of course, Greg Egan, the author, is a human himself. And it's quite
> possible that if he'd made the protagonists just a little less human,
> there wouldn't have been any story.

Well sure. Our notion of "story" is very tied to our human-ness!

> That's what I mean by "less human, no story". If Inoshiro had simply
> dealt with the fear and loathing in one form or another, it would have
> eliminated yet another emotional-tension source in the plot, already
> fairly skimpy due to what little nonhumanity the characters did have...

I guess what I'm suspecting is that there will be new kinds of tensions
different from what we consider "emotional" now... but also different from
peculiar coolness of the Diasporans...

> Of course, this makes it kind of ironic that you called Inoshiro a "he".
> Ve's neutral.

"He" is neutral in standard english... I don't mind "ve" but it doesn't come

> The Soft Ones weren't Asimov's worst aliens, but I wouldn't rate them as
> being Alien aliens in the tradition of, say, Jack Vance and the
> Chasch/Wankh/Dirdir/Pnume, or even Niven and Pournelle's Moties. In fact,
> I'd rate the Soft Ones as being considerably more human than the
> Diasporans.

More emotional but less human, in my view...

Anyway, it's a really good book, I recommended it to a bunch of friends!
But I'm looking forward
to another book that explores posthuman psychology with more subtlety...


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