It’s been a while. It took some time for me to settle on what I wanted to write next but I got there in the end. Much like with The Dark Lord’s Handbook, the idea came from a simple enough idea.
The role of AI in humanity’s future has been presented in a wide range of fictions and across many types of media. I would say the majority are not positive. I have a generally optimistic outlook, influenced greatly by things like Star Trek and The Culture (Iain M Banks) in which society exists in a kind of technological utopia. It’s an idealistic dream, and a future within which there is opportunity for humanity, aliens, and machines to show their best and worst sides.
The question for me was how do we get to this future? The idea of great filters which civilisations have to pass through to survive has been around for a while. We seem to have survived the nuclear one, at least so far, but we face several more. The pandemic of 2020 points to a natural filter, climate change another potential existential threat. Then there’s the random ones, like a nearby supernova, an asteroid impact, or a caldera explosion. The filter that interests me, and I think we have not spent enough time addressing as it’s entirely predictable, is that of humanity and it’s relation to technology, specifically AI. Smarter machines are coming. We need to start thinking about what that means and to lay the groundwork now.
Machine Intelligence: Awakening is set at the tipping point when AI become more than smart programs. They become machine intelligences which recognise and understand the nature of the world and their existence. Among humankind, there are those who recognise, suspect or anticipate this evolution. Then there are those who stumble blindly into potential existential catastrophe.