Visions of the Future

I just finished re-reading one of my favorite books, Metaplanetary by Tony Daniels. It’s awash with brilliant new ideas for the future, which I wish would hurry up and get here!

In Tony Daniel’s vision of the future, all human beings have a tripartite self: An aspect (physical body and brain), a convert (an “algorithmic” brain {a computer that is an extension of their memories and personality}), and a pellicle (a permeating layer of nanotech that repairs and protects them). Not that most humans can tell them apart any more than we call our toe something different from our foot– it’s all them, all working together. It’s what being human means.

That, to me, is a beautiful vision– a time when humans can interface seamlessly in virtual realms, use nanotech to conquer the stars and their bodies (disease, aging, etc), and have the benefits of silicon computers as well as the benefits of flesh. *happy sigh*

An example of how the three parts interact: A man walks into the room (well, his Aspect walks in, at least… for all we know, his Convert self could be in a virtual meeting room, with a subroutine guiding his aspect on auto-pilot). His pellicle interfaces with the local nanotech environment, making sure it’s safe (no computer viruses, no physical viruses, etc) and establishing net connections. He sits down in his booth, and thinks (which is a function of both the aspect and convert) to order a drink– his convert and pellicle work together, using a net connection to retrieve the menu, peruse the list, make a choice, and inform the bar what drink he wants, pay for it, etc. To him, it’s as facile as walking in, sitting down, reading a menu, giving an order to a waiter, and paying a tab is to us.

Because of that, humans in his books are as comfortable in virtual environments (think the Matrix) as they are in Actuality, the physical world. The book centers, among other things, on dealing with Free Converts, beings which are all convert and no aspect (read: A.I.s).

If you need a good read that’s somewhere between hard sci-fi and space opera to restore your faith in the future, check it out!

5 Responses to “Visions of the Future”

Give to me my convert! Give to me my pellicle!
Then I shall assimilate the galaxy.
Resistance is… um… something or other. We’ll work on that and have something ready by the time the conquest begins.

otownes - December 2nd, 2005 at 9:26 am

Heh. And I didn’t even get into LAPs: Large Arrays of Personalities.

From the Appendice of the book:

A large Array of Personalities. If a person makes multiple copies of him- or herself and integrates these personalities to act in parallel… you have a LAP. Usually these various personas are copies of an original “person” and are mostly converts– although it is usual for a LAP to have three or so clones, in addition to the original biological Aspect. A LAP can be a conglomeration of many physical bodies, many convert portions, or a mixture of both. The convert portions of LAPs are usually a plethora of programs and subroutines, all under a mediator intelligence that is a complete replica of the human personality, along with whatever virtual controls and calculators are necessary for proper functioning.
… By becoming a LAP a person can lead multiple lives in multiple locations, all at the same time. He or she might also choose to concentrate all those separate (but similar) attentions to one task or way of life.

Basically, a LAP is running parallel, always in instant communication, copies of himself. The book goes into much more detail about how they retain a sense of “oneness”, but such a cool concept. *drools* I can dream, can’t I?

Paradoxdruid - December 3rd, 2005 at 4:10 pm

So, like the ghost twins in Matrix Reloaded?

teisha - December 3rd, 2005 at 4:25 pm

It’s been a while since I watched the later Matrix movies, but I seem to recall that the Ghost Twins talked to eachother and were separate entities. Was I wrong?

The closest Matrix parallel would be Agent Smith at the end of the movies. Each copy of him moved differently (said different things, punched at different times), but he was definitely one “being”.

Paradoxdruid - December 3rd, 2005 at 4:47 pm

For the Twins, I was thinking of this specific quote:
Twin #1: We are getting aggravated.
Twin #2: Yes, we are.

But you’re right — Agent Smith is a better representation of LAPs, from what you’ve said. Virusly-delicious.

teisha - December 3rd, 2005 at 5:19 pm

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