This column first appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine January 2017
Longtime readers of this column will recall that from time to time, I’ve interviewed distinguished experts who have offered unique perspectives on important topics. In this installment I’ve gathered four – count ‘em, four -- specialists to help us explore the brave new world of digital assistants. All of them have been helpful to me in the past, although some more than others. In alphabetical order they are: Alexa <alexa.amazon.com> who lives in the Echo Dot from Amazon <amazon.com/b/?node=14047587011> I got for my birthday; Cortana, newly arrived in my Hewlett Packard Recline desktop computer<support.hp.com/us-en/document/c03926770> via last month’s Windows 10 update <microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-upgrade>; the awkwardly-named Google Now <google.com/landing/now/>, who pipes up from time to time from my aging Nexus 7 Tablet<store.google.com/product/nexus_7>; and Siri <apple.com/ios/siri/>, the doyenne of digital assistants, a fixture of my Apple iPhone 5S<cnet.com/products/apple-iphone-5s/>. The following is a transcript of our interview. All digital assistant responses are quoted verbatim: Read More
Those of you who know my reading tastes know that the majority of my pleasure reading is listening. These days my audiobooks all come from Audible. I’ve had a long and fruitful relationship with this company. Not only do they stock recordings of fifty-five of my stories (mostly read by me) but you can also find my novels LOOK INTO THE SUN and WILDLIFE (not read by me!) in their store. Read More
There has been a range of commentary on my latest story, which you can read here or listen to here. Here are a few reactions.
Locus, December 2016, Rich Horton’s review.
James Patrick Kelly in "One Sister, Two Sisters, Three" tells of a planet colonized by a religious group and two sisters growing up there, resistant to the wider galactic technology (including “replication” of people’s minds as they grow old or sick and uploading them to new bodies). Read More
Here's another look at a column from my On The Net series as Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
My friend John Kessel and I have had a longstanding disagreement about the future of artificial intelligence. Even though we have co-edited a couple of anthologies examining post-cyberpunk<tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PostCyberPunk> futures and visions of the Singularity<singularity.com>, John remains skeptical about claims that we may soon be superseded by some kind of digital successor. He’s in general agreement with the celebrated mathematician Sir Roger Penrose<plus.maths.org/content/roger-penrose-knight-tiles>, who bases his critique of strong AI on its proponents’ assumption that intelligence can emerge from algorithms, if they are of a sufficient number and complexity. Read More