Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Virtual Gods

Hot on the heels of my passing mention of my cyberpunk-allegory WIP, I came across this blog post. What interested me here was that, yes, in general, Artificial Intelligences in sf do tend to be portrayed as superior in some way to mankind.

For instance, I recently read The Risen Empire by Scott Westerfeld, in which compound minds - essentially AIs comprising all the computer power of a planet - can behave like gods, and are treated as such by the mechanically-enhanced Rix people.

However, it stands to reason that computer programmers seeking to create artificial intelligence would not be deliberately trying to replace humanity as the dominant species. Logically there would be some form of control built into the little artificial lifeforms (like Asimov's Laws of Robotics, if you like).

My WIP starts along these lines:

ALFs are artificial lifeforms created within a strictly controlled virtual environment, and imbued with a limited degree of intelligence by their creators.

However, following a dispute over how to use the technology, the experiment is corupted when one of the programmers leaves the the project, having first infected the system with a virus.

In an attempt to salvage the project – and save countless artificial ‘lives’ – the creator of the project must enter his virtual world in order to isolate and remove the virus.

Unknown to him, however, his erstwhile colleague, as well as corrupting the project, has found a way to influence the actions of the artificial lives, and a battle to control the world has begun...

OK, so the second half sounds a bit cheesy, and the whole idea as presented here (before Elliot says it ;) ) may be a bit unsubtle. That, combined with the fact that it didn't finish it while cyberpunk was still young, and a major part of the story subsequently appeared in The Matrix, is why I've shifted it onto the backburner. I do have a couple of ideas to breathe new life into it, and may yet be able to make a sufficiently original story from it.

Alternatively, as Elliot suggested, maybe the Christian market is about ready for a Christian Matrix...


Elliot said...

I can sympathize. I have sf/fantasy ideas sometimes that I scribble down, and then neglect. A few months later I'll come across a movie or book that's "been there, done that." Sigh.

Stuart said...

It all comes down to execution. :) I wouldn't worry about the "nugget" sounding too tried and true early on. There are only so many stories that can be written.

What you have to focus on is executing the story in a new way. Puting a unique spin on it that hasn't been done or done well before. :)

UKSteve said...

Excellent point, Stuart. They do, ('they' being the mysterious omniscient uber-beings who tell us this kind of stuff) after all, say that there are only seven basic plots. I like to think that many of my stories are only temporarily shelved until I can get that unique angle.