Tag Archives: artificial intelligence

This Is Not A Movie Review Of “Safety Not Guaranteed”

“It’s about a time, and a place…do you have a favorite song? …. It’s that time and that place and that song and you remember what it was like when you were in that place and you listen to that song and you know you’re not in that place anymore and it makes you feel…hollow.”


I’m watching Safety Not Guaranteed and there’s a conversation about how people feel about memories and favorites, and I think, I don’t have the same favorites now that I used to..

Favorites are useful shorthands to have. We ask people their “favorites” as if we can divine from their personality the things that will define them, define their character. It’s convenient to have favorites.

Favorite movies, favorites bands, favorite songs, favorite television shows, favorite restaurants, favorite foods, favorite drinks, favorite beers, favorite wines, favorite actors and actresses, favorite books, favorite writers, favorite animals, favorite colors, favorite memories. Favorite jokes. Favorite achievements, favorite opportunities and lenses through which to experience the world, favorite nights lying out on the dock staring up at the Milky Way and favorite theater productions you did with your cousins when you were eight. Favorite nights up wandering the city streets, favorite mornings when you woke full of peacefulness and warmth.

Favorites are naturally transient. I used to tell people my favorite song was Mysterious Ways, by U2, and the reason I knew that was because I had never fast-forwarded past the song when it played. But shortly after this observed fact, reality changed: now conscious of the song and my proclaimed affection for it, it no longer seemed boundless and limitless and full of infinity. By framing the idea for someone else, I limited what, in expression, it could be. And Mysterious Ways by U2 was no longer my favorite song.

Life changes, inevitably, and the favorites most worth having are the ones you never anticipated in the moment. Favorite afternoon with sun on your face among the springtime flowers in Green Park.

Favorites are full-body snapshots of a singular moment in time and space; reflecting snowglobes within neurons.

Favorites are moments, precise and crystallized.

Easily shattered, growing with geological constance.


2013-01-20 13.25.58A couple weeks ago, I was visiting a friend in Boston and he asked what kind of writing I was working on right now.

When I said I’d started thinking back to my robot/AI anthology, his response? “Then we should go to the MIT museum.*” (*not a direct quote.)

Which was how, in the space of a day, I went from walking the decks of the oldest ship in the U.S. navy to wandering through examples of the robots of the latter half of the 20th century.

The visit was a kick in the pants. A reminder of where the study of artificial intelligence started, and how far the field has come in fifty years.

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Also a strange reminder of gender imbalance in the sciences I most love (there were no women participants in the conference held at Dartmouth in 1956, as far as I’ve been able to find, and the school didn’t start accepting women until 1972). And of the incredibly intellectual and creative capacity of those men who did take place in the conception of artificial life.

(One of those men, John McCarthy, wrote this story (“The Robot And The Baby“) about a robot and a baby, which is utterly specific in its representation of how an artificial ntelligence (each word being taken at its face value) might weigh options and make decisions.)

Another participant in the conference, Marvin Minsky, was (according to Wikipedia) referred to as one of only two men who Issac Asimov acknowledged as being smarter than him. The other was Carl Sagan.

The visit gave me both inspiration on old drafts and ideas about the potential shape of my AI Anthology, and set my brain buzzing with new possibilities for themes and research.

Now for the fun part: applying them.


P.S. If you’ve got $2.99 USD to spare and an Amazon account, click on over to the page for Sassy Singularity and read my short story Sweetheart.

Writing Spaghetti

Right now my “writing plate” feels like it’s full of a dense, stodgy pile of concept-rich spaghetti. Everything is tangled up with everything else, and once I get through this plate of stuff I know it’s going to take a long time to digest.

I try to do three entries a week here, and after the pointed focus of the recent vaginathon, it’s been tricky to find a topic that doesn’t feel self-indulgent and limp by comparison. It’s because of where my various projects are at, I know: that frustrating time between initial brainvom and settling-in.

I have two short stories that need to be worked on; in putting together a collection for this fall, I’ve wound up with little screaming chunks of fiction waving their arms and running around my mental writing desk. I’m trying to keep them in a drawer and only take them out one at a time. Working on one becomes a distraction from the other, then working on the other takes some of the tension out of working on the first.

One, I have to go back through and re-thread a point, because of something I took for granted that turned out to be false. It reminds me of the maps they make of the London Underground – disproportionate, based on connections. I can choose a different point – something that fits the descriptions and scenes I’ve already written (in which case the tapestry of the story still needs to be reviewed in full, to make sure the patch doesn’t show) or I restitch the scenes from the ground-up. Either option will work. I’m just not sure, yet, which choice will result in the stronger story.

The other has a distinct theme in my mind that isn’t coming out yet in the text. The full text of the second story has not been written yet. So this is okay, if gelatinous.

A friend’s novel needs proofread. I should go to the gym. I should be out in the city, enjoying today’s gorgeous weather, doing something instead of home and hunched over the computer, particularly given the abatement of the heat wave of the last few days.

At the very least, I should take a shower.

I’ll start with the shower.

The Veillee publishes my short story “THE TELL TALE TECH”

Head over to new literary site The Veillee Blog to check out my latest short story – a science-fiction mystery in the style of Edgar Allan Poe, titled The Tell Tale Tech.

For more fiction, you can access my short story Restaurants Are Rated Out Of Four Stars, and stay tuned for the multi-authored speculative fiction anthology Hot Mess, exploring ideas and themes around Climate Change – coming March 2012 on Kindle, in print, and more.


THEATER/FILM DISCUSSION: “127 Hours” and “Hello Hi There” (Contains Spoilers)

127 HOURS, by Scottish director Danny Boyle, plays on themes that have resonated throughout his filmography. Through manipulating our experience of Aaron’s ordeal, Boyle reminds us of the same unsettling truths that can be seen throughout his body of work, mostly revolving around the frailty of human life and civilization in the face of disaster. Boyle regularly creates high-concept storylines that force his audience to appreciate the joy of being alive while at the same time showing them the brutality and messy ugliness that is inherent in being human. He forces his audience to consider their relationship to the natural, external world – while at the same time maintaining a focus on the tormented inner stories of his characters.

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