Living Algorithms


“The three contemporary science fiction novels discussed here mirror the development of our stance towards artificial intelligence. In Gareth L. Powell’s The Recollection, which employs a polarised world-view reminiscent of Cold War politics, the AI is demonized to such an extent that speaking about it and speaking about the devil become indistinguishable. In Stone Adam Roberts depicts uprising nanobots as terrorists from a human perspective but as freedom fighters from that of the awakened AI. Finally, M. John Harrison’s take on the topic in his Empty Space trilogy is the most complex one, reminding us that we too are living, self-replicating, self-conscious code. Based on that, self-aware technology is simply another culture to interact with.”

I have a new article up in Infinite Earths: “Living Algorithms: The Move towards Anti-Anthropocentrism in Gareth L. Powell’s The Recollection, Adam Roberts’ Stone, and M. John Harrison’s Empty Space Trilogy”. The illustration above is “BioMech Eye” by Bruno (kirkh on deviantart).

Interview with myself pt. 3

I realized I haven’t done an „interview with myself“ in years now, so I picked the first „fun online survey“ thing I found via Google, and here you go. (Okay, the interviewer evolved into a separate entity pretty soon.) We’re playing 20 Q:

1. Sprite or Root Beer?
I read that as “Spice or Root beer?” – so, obviously, spice all the way. Besides, there’s no root beer here anyway.

2. Do you have close friends?
Seriously? Do I have close friends? (Yes. A handful – who are more valuable to me that a legion of anyone else’s fake Facebook friends.)

3. Are you in love?
Yes. (But that’s not an interesting question, is it?)

4. Taken or Single?
Damn, you’re getting pretty nosy, my dear online survey. Are you by any chance hitting on me, or am I inventing subtext again?

5. What is the colour of your comforter?
This is getting weird. You know how Austrian bedclothes work, right? So usually something eye-cancer inducing, sometimes involving swirly retro patterns.

6. What are you wearing right now?
I *knew* you were hitting on me! But it’s nothing sexy, really. Just a pair of boot-cut jeans, a green T-shirt and socks that my nana knitted for me. (And that’s that! If you’re continuing that game, I’m going to stop answering.)

7. Did you do anything this past month?
Are you sure you’re okay? Did I *do* anything? Well, I guess you’re just really bad at small-talk. Or you’re referring to the gap in my blog posts, in which case I do apologize. Yeah, I’ve been really busy, so I didn’t have too much time for the blog. But things are looking good, so stay tuned, and you might see what I’ve been doing.

8. When is your bitrthday?
Looking at your spelling, I’d say you’re drunk, which explains your previous questions.
My birthday is on 3 December, which means I just turned 35. Subjectively, I’m more like oscillating between the ages of 5 and 16.

9. When was your first kiss?
I think I was 15. My best friend/crush and I kissed but soon found out that that just didn’t work for us, so we symbolically “adopted” one another, and we’re unofficial siblings now.

10. Whats your screen-name?
Still with the spelling. If you mean something like an actor’s pseudonym, I’ve been in a (very close to no-budget) movie under my real name. (It’s here, it’s pretty Lovecraftian, and it’s got English subtitles. After the first ~40 Minutes, it’s really good.)

11. Do you like school/work?
I’ll define “school” as doing my PhD and “work” as doing admin stuff. Well, as I said before, I like my job, but I like my research (& my writing – academic *and* creative) more. There are some changes up ahead, though, so we’ll see how that goes.

12. Where do you think you’ll live in 10 years?
I can’t say! Job-wise, it looks as if I’ll be in Graz for about 4 more years. Then… we’ll see.

13. What’s your favourite food?
Savoury: various curries and lasagna. Sweet: Germknödel. I’m also borderline addicted to spicy nori strips and Twizzlers.

14. What drink do you hate the most?
“Hate” is a pretty strong word, don’t you think? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to enjoy tequila again, but I file that under “lessons learned”. And I don’t like anything blackcurrant-flavoured.

15. What drink do you like the most?
Beer and tea (Earl Grey, to be precise).

16. What food do you hate?
Blackcurrant and anything blackcurrant-flavoured. Don’t ask me why. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t even make sense. (Oh, and I don’t eat meat – but I don’t consider that “food”, so that’s that.)

17. Have you ever been asked to a dance by someone?
I knew this was a teenager survey! Can we skip this?
No, wait. I’ll tell you about the first “party with boys” I went to (I went to an all-girls convent school). All the guys were huddled in a corner, occasionally shouting “ladies’ choice”. I don’t think we were that intimidating (I certainly wasn’t), but there you go.

18. Do you like reading?

19. What are you looking forward to next month?
Ummm. Maybe the last session of this Empire course I’m teaching, focussing on Steampunk.

20. What is your most prized possession?
Well, I don’t think that possessions are that important. For example, I have very few signed books, and I have never asked anyone to sign a book for me, even when I had the chance. However, I have a couple of things (including books) that were given to me by people who are important to me, so I keep those out of reach of the cats. I guess the things that mean the most to me sentimentally were all given to me by friends.