The SFFaudio Podcast #510 – READALONG: Understand by Ted Chiang

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #510 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Wayne June talk about Understand by Ted Chiang

Talked about on today’s show:
still alive, still putting out stuff, novelette, an interesting topic, intelligence and stupidity, pair things up, an interesting and complex topic, the school system, true features, a story about an incredibly stupid guy, the title is not intelligence, a long traditon in Science Fiction, Flowers For Algernon, the arc that happens within it, Idiocracy (2006), The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, a lot of bad answers, a short theory, first impression, so success and smartness, very successful stupid people, Bill Maher on Stan Lee, wrong about a long of things, Jerry Springer, propelling interest, a calculated effect, a bigger issue, a Reading, Short And Deep, on YouTube, its about awareness, the “bubble” you’re in, the blinders you have, going back to first principles, how do you know what you think you know?, epistemology, jargon, technical talk, very skilled, you have to be super-intelligent to have written it, very studied, the integration of hard science into the story, super smooth, Arrival (2016), Story Of Your Life, the audiobook by Todd McClaren, the BBC version, a response to Flowers For Algernon, spinning out implications, fatal error, the end of the story, hypercritical, such a great metaphor, he’s a bomb, he’s about to go off, where he was coming from, lofty concepts, meta-cognition or thinking about one’s thinking, computer science, artificial intelligence, being self-aware, the nature of consciousness, the limits of our consciousness, hormone k, how far will intelligence get us, Leon and Reynolds, how to use it, conflicting philosophies and moralities, I I I, save the planet, how selfish Leon is, go transcendental, changing whole industries, the good guy won, the whole view of the outside world, the normals and their world, aesthetics and beauty vs. saving the world from itself, who are you to decide?, threw Wayne for a loop, kinda monstrous, admirable, Eric S. Rabkin, one of the few people alive I want to read, how do you think he made this?, as we see his growth, Limitless (2011), don’t bother with the TV show, super creative, stock market trading, the book, methamphetamine, set in the future, Asimov’s, August 1991, The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, came out 2001, tweaking, in manic mode, less about accumulating new knowledge, going over and over and over, the way this story gives you the sense of intelligence growth, playing ahead, if this happens then this will happen, hacks in to a terminal at his doctor’s office, service port, a desktop safe, bio-metric device with a service port, all these steps to think ahead, what we think of as chess, teaching chess, constricting an opponents movements, fewer choices, anticipating, gestalt, an organized whole that is perceived than more than the sum of its parts, micromanaging details of everything, the gestalt of everything, the ultimate meaning of everything, as a result of his powers, read a person’s body language, intentions and nature, the smell of their pheromones, microscopic details, one little thing, the whole is much more than the sum of their parts, Sherlock Holmes to the nth degree, time chess to speed chess, transcendental enlightenment, he’s Buddha, the point of the story, an infinite staircase, close to futile, other creature’s intelligence, a critical mass thing, reading a Lovecraft story, consonance and resonance and sonar, animals that use sonar, bats and whales, sperm whales, massive resonance chambers, free divers, six times the size of a human brain, they have no hands, can’t forge metal, and have no writing implements, Icarus and Daedalus, father and son, godlike in their abilities, just like in Watchmen, already won, already in the trap, the note at the doctor’s office, gloating, his undoing, a real thing and a real phenomenon, vocabulary words, that gestalt and that surprise, the guy with the psychedelic shirt, an Inception (2010) story, literally happening all around us, advertising, my friend Maissa Bessada, skeletons, lesbians, two more skeletons, a pattern of acceptance and dissolving your preconceptions, that scene in Total Recall (1990), this is exactly why this is so effective (is because it can be so affective), René Girard’s triangular desire or mimetic desire, other monkeys, supreme manipulators, don’t participate or try to minimize it, the dominant chatter, chatter controls action, a slowdown, intelligence as getting what you want, what drops out of the story is everybody else in society, what makes Reynolds the good guy, a group animal, meaning and intelligence are tied together in a strong way, bad at math, can brain damage make you better at math?, his regret is evident, idiot savants, the CIA, Greco, accurate in assessing Reynolds, a reliable narrator, merely a savior, his judgement is optimal, how he justifies himself, people don’t trust themselves, a meta-human, how we’re supposed to think of him, once as an experiment on a drug dealer, testing your power, Joe Rogan, UFC, which system of fighting is the best system, how do you test it?, which techniques is really better, jujitsu, Steven Seagal, all about the testing, what techniques work, testing our limits, what animals do when they’re young, a drug dealer, drug users, a beneficent god in a certain sense, not without sin, not necessarily unironic, I dissolve, Word is capitalized, the Logos, page 116, the sentence that when uttered will destroy the mind of the listener, it makes the title a really clever punchline, meta-awareness, self-awareness, ultimate understanding, taxing the limits of the structure of my brain, tricks him into understanding, the trap, he’d already programmed him, triggering the word, he got what he wanted, very good, a really clever punchline, less science than it is fantasy, fetal brain tissue, repair when not rejected, anoxia, damage more parts of his brain, his former life, there’s no girlfriend, a business, looking at Understand through the lens of The Dark Fields, a line from The Great Gatsby, a book about people without purpose, enhancing what you have, about methamphetamine, to speed people up, more active, paradoxical effect, your brain is not an engine, the Le Mans 24 hour race, the continual racing, testing to endure, an extended amount of high performance, Reynold’s weapon, implants the mandala, beyond his endurance, a metaphor, composing poetry, emotional impacts from words, the right combination of words can make an audience explode, pointing to real things, how writers and ad writers get their money, an impact on the reader, we change our lives, we sacrifice peoples lives for words, more real than most things, those whales without tools, they have lives we can never understand, what they’re communicating and how they even live and hunt is incredibly complex, very rare, the lives of beings that are not like us, Lucy (2014), psychokinetics, Morgan Freeman babbling, that stupid bullshit, most people don’t use the engine at maximum RPM, sleep, rest for the cars engine, a new air filter, stress tests, adrenalin, a super fuel, super good, Mr Jim Moon puts out a lot of podcasts, working smart, have a plan and be open, wherever you can get progress you push, the journey of a thousand miles, Rome wasn’t built in a day, the Devil’s in the details, navigating and picking which ones to go with, attempts at wisdom, when smart people say stupid things, committed to a system or a person, made commitments that they were unwilling to examine, Exhalation, a robot who opens up his own brain, the Galen of the robot universe that he lives in, pneumatic, a self-consistent brilliant idea, examining the internal to examine the external, Jesse’s not a drug guy, the brain is thinking, the body is thinking, so inside your own brain, focus, memory and thought and action, a brilliant guy, amazing stories, he can’t really tell the truth here, he knows what truth sounds like and it sounds like this, that poetic canto, the art, two naked dudes, a skull brain, climbing out of his own brain, representing out two main characters, a metaphor for the hyper-intelligence, a symbol, not the size of your brain, brain body ratio, Protector by Larry Niven, a particular drive, how certain kinds of intelligence to survive, hummingbirds, we can create niche (or destroy the niche) we’re in, there are stupid people, lead, fetal alcohol, no comic books for 20 years, behavior, the right habits, intention and purpose, a self appointed savior, incompatible, almost into programing, no quotation marks, the meta-textual text you may miss in the audio, only one bit that tells you its in the future, Pittsburgh, white air filter masks, not necessarily a pollution thing, hoodies, restricting vision, feeling cozy, women are more likely to wear masks, all sorts of reasons, welder masks, keeping skin pale, it allows you to hide, license to do it, you’re the crazy ones, a critical mass, trends, everybody used to wear hats, the fashion man, smoking their asses off, vaping, people who would have been ashamed to be smoking, wearing baseball hats, cowboy hats, fake street kids, $200 t-shirts, strange phenomenon, what makes this story fantastic (fantasy), could there ever be a drug or hormone, a metaphor for a kind of approach to that direction, like the ending of Dagon, past tense with present tense interruptions, we don’t expect the ending because told first person in present tense, “I’m standing” not “I was standing”, Ted Chiang is doing what Reynolds is doing and we’re the protagonists.

Understand by Ted Chiang

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #509 – READALONG: Autofac by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #509 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa Vu, and Evan Lampe talk about Autofac by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
Paul is pizzled, a novellette, Galaxy, November 1955, an episode of Electric Dreams, not as terrible, low standards, serious problems, the most redeemable, redeeming aspects, why we have to have cunnilingus scenes for no reasons, to care about characters we don’t care about, a naked one for a change, in charge of the sex situation, an agenda, the last five (or three years), except on Game Of Thrones, they really laid this shit on heavy, the gender of the hacker character doesn’t matter to the story, sex scenes hurt the story, a double twist ending, abberant from the story, something completely different, breaking the fourth wall, directed at the TV audience, I know you need the sex scene so here it is, Black Mirror, Metalhead, could be set in the same world, a sequel world, boyfriend is a librarian, robots can’t have children, are they on a loop, meaning and purpose and existence drops away, doomed every other robot to extinction, the same conversation, as soon as you start thinking about it it breaks down, a happy ending, this is just as bad as the actual story, way worse than the ending in the book, going to the stars, that primitive existence, already cut-off, horses and sad chickens, human animals again, degrading, the ending, human civilization is being propped up, sliding right into the toilet, back to pre-barbarism, a nuclear war, how well are humans going to survive, doomed hunter gatherer tribes, the alternative presented in the TV show, hippie buses, we could store that data electronically, nobody’s getting older, the guy with a limp, she cuts her own head open, Rust, Isaac Asimov, the robots can’t move anymore, what’s going to happen next, I wanna watch that episode, they set up a whole premise, she left behind the two guys, she’s kind of a monster, using people as a means to an end, lying to the robot, the logic bomb, other than that she’s a monster, a consequentialist ethic, all over the world, by ending that autofac, robot communities, my community matter and everybody else doesn’t, duplicate communities, one node, only one autofac in the TV adaptation, the rest of the world is dead, she’s doomed the last beings on the planet, waiting for their amazon deliveries, watching it on Amazon Prime, people think this is a story about Amazon, you can’t communicate with the postman, leave it under the eave next time, those punchcards, soiled, missing a part, dealing with bureaucracy, kind of a reverse cargo cult story, people trying to stop the automated deliveries, why do they want to stop it?, they’re fucking robots, they’re polluting everything, wresting the means of production back from the autofac, polluting and ruining the planet, resonating a little better, not amazon not capitalism, the unstoppable beast, the system that’s broken is humanity, the cargo cults in the Pacific, Seabees, vastly unfamiliar, giant birds, “CARGO”, wonderful goodness, not well represented in the family of man, educated in the United States, Hawaii, a remote atoll, grasp the full industrial might, if you raise the American flag, an aircraft shaped object out of wicker, prosperity, manna from heaven, if the forms are followed, why are they rejecting this, Puerto Rico, what is happening in the story (sorta), you can’t beat capitalism by talking to your non-voting representative, control of the means of production, a really interesting story, blowing up Amazon headquarters, a pretty top down organization, if it’s head robot was not in charge, are profits are temporary, Boston Tea Party, boycotts, South Africa, Apartheid, moving for reconciliation, had the humans not catalyzed this particular conflict, needing the resources, tasty titanium, a stellar opening scene, acting as if the milk tastes terrible, a fabulous sequence stupidly replaced, harpoon, why is she wearing the little round sunglasses, supposed it look steampunk, jumpsuits and truck with no cab, mad at the milk, angry at the truck, it would take some imagination, the lazy version, this makes it connected to the world of SkyNet, The Terminator movies, a much more bleak human future, one AI and youre done, we’ve made ourselves destruction, “it’s worse than that” (as Bryan Alexander) would say, not the premier object of interest, we’ve made ourselves into rats or pigeons, this Marxist aspect to Philip K. Dick, man the tinkerer, once we’re totally consumers we might as well be robots, they are robots, you’re not allowed to tinker with your iPhone or your John Deere tractor, pre-computers, a modern car, Charles Stross, an iPad needs to be taken to a wizard, Evan’s right, commercial culture, semi-artificial, you are kind of an android, Reading, Short And Deep, But Who Can Replace A Man by Brian Aldiss, massive collapse, stuck out in the universe, find new value, a lone surviving human, “Yes master, immediately.”, maybe we don’t need to have man, Rust by Joseph E. Kelleam, an abject figure, as the big machines bore slowly down on him, his countenance was ravaged by starvation, right back into slavery, in their quest to find meaning, they just leave them behind, “good luck, brother”, telling these stories from different directions, not completely hopeless, recreated life, life is an an anti-entropy, DNA can do it, solving problems, plastic houses and buckets of milk, little robot versions of themselves, Steam, a reddit thread, Factorio, a horrible premise, use up all of its resources,a planet destruction games, SimCity, Civilization, a factory that makes more factories, a brilliant ending, Asimov’s 3 laws, The Defenders, the Leadies, The Penultimate Truth, The Electric Ant, Westworld as an adaptation of The Electric Ant, seeing reality as it is, transparent head, lights in their heads, Ex Machina (2014), she blanches when she’s exposed to the truth, smashes the capsule, she’s a really good actor?, all part of the ruse, just to trick the audience, a stupid line to justify the shower sex scene, the robot visitor, that whole visualization, why does she look like that, they’re probably experimenting with sex robots, how unsexy the autofac (story) robots, that hawk, a sex act, changed by its environment, a little vent shooting out seeds, a very nice reveal, an uncontrollable system like capitalism or a von Neumann, a grey goo story, FEMA automated, how Haiti is so badly done, the NGOs help so hard that basically everybody’s worse off than they were, culture-jam, jam up the works, the agency and the action, you fake a natural disaster, almost what happened in Somalia, the warlords laid a trap, Black Hawk Down (2001), change the game in the local area, Iraq, under continual occupation since 2003, massive forces that you cannot comprehend, the industrial capacity millions and millions and millions of times bigger than your little atoll, an agenda you cannot fathom or control, more relevant than ever, seeing through a glass clearly, the vines that were growing, weeds, things taking over, how Philip K. Dick talks about children, Ray Bradbury, obsessed with insects, the bugs, insects like in Second Variety, a sequel, tinnily above O’Neal’s head, slag and ruin, sickly stalks, rat colonies, radiation, birds, little details, a really good writer, not a clunky writer, description, evocative, the kind of contrast Dick is always doing, conversations vs. perception, really good timing, slapping at a mosquito, receptors fully extended, the search bug fitted perfectly, a vague tub, Expendable, ants on his lawn, a talking spider in his house, in our vast war against the insects, how the birds are watching and twittering, cockroaches, figurative robotic cockroaches, a moth, in the moth ridden darkness of the night, peering, planning,tungsten seeking food, into the shadows of the thick packed vines, it builds itself a little coffin, high on amphetamines, little touches, a groundbreaking novelette, long sentences, the factory representative had arrived, the insect tech, The Simulacrum, The Man Who Japed, the Minority Report movie, artificial bees, something to consider, quasi-human, a biped chassis, testimony to nature’s efficiency, lady in a catsuit, a gender, a testament to the times we live in, quite a production, dramatic, sound and fury that comes to nothing, community meetings, a bunch of people disagreeing, a common goal, so unimportant Philip K. Dick didn’t bother to point to it, Judith O’Neal, the metallic paper, six words, the Kansas City settlement, no fluttering breasts, big excitement, they are placing the orders, back-order sheets, almost like you’re living in Puerto Rico, factory analyzed needs, ALL SHIPMENTS SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, we got what we wanted didn’t we?, exactly the kind of relationship the native people of B.C. had when they traded with the Hudson’s Bay Company, rifle skill, bow skill, NAFTA, the Trans Pacific Partnership, unable to participate, very political and very insightful story, BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve, another pipeline from Alberta, almost a trade war, pollution, that’s what this story’s all about, capitalism and independence, the beaver trappers, more effective more efficient, trapped, once you have a rifle, opening by each of the directors, Travis Beecham, a machine doing exactly what its creators meant it to do, The Monkey’s Paw, a technological parable, we’re fighting our own nature, what he’s saying sounds awesome, creating the demand for the process it wants to do, expanding markets, a good story for the 1950s, manufacturing markets, creating more demand to fulfill the runaway production, everyone is dead from the war, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison, what we do, creating fake demand, funny characters, angsty wives, almost poetic, again with the vines, the Philip K. Dick Rhetorizer, it remained inert totally unresponsive, rigid, sore and unshaven chin, they’re taking over the world!, shapeless piles, a different mode, in its cocoon, a vent, an ovipositor, a terrific story, they give up, that age of mankind is over, spread out into the university, that would be neat, is he being ironic?, the nozzle continued to spurt out its torrent of metal seeds, a metaphor, predicting the present, Teslas into orbit for no reason, new markets for cars in out space, a terrific science fiction writer when he wants to be, his novels, humans and their relationships to each other, flat characters, a character, working through those ideas, a different mode, a downer ending, Juno Temple, Emily Zabriske, mining borax, Alice in wonderland?, replaced, took away from the power of the idea, cute but doesn’t make any sense, it works at the moment, not a classic, they’re not trying to make you think that, we shouldn’t like that, a better story, very dark, a real monster, brutal, a coldly calculating witch, on her plate, she doesn’t care about her two companions, you have to presume she disabled the bombs, why does she need to bring them?, they’re there as distraction, she kills her old boyfriend, the humanoid killbot, weird machines hunting down people, the difference in writing, an economy of storytelling, in black and white, inevtiably taken on a terrible journey, an action sequence before meetings, if you were grading all the television, they’re not A students, making excuses, terrible assignment, they’ve gotta have a nude scene a kill bot and a harpoon, the same premise, three guys standing around and we don’t know why, get ready, follow the plan, pretending the milk tastes terrible, something’s wrong with the milk, their semantic sensibilities, a performance designed to achieve something, massive success, a massive failure, a great setup and premise, in a science fiction story, too expensive to film, visual effects way more expensive, druggie glasses, a whole steampunk vibe, I’ve never seen a film people pretending milk taste bad and then talking to a truck, a guy getting into an argument with his toaster or door, a classic scene, could have been amazing, they’re just hippies, the meetings, factions and conflict, Dr. Bloodmoney, they had to kill that teacher, post-apocalyptic literature, how they deal with it in The Terminator series, John Connor aka JC aka Jesus Christ, bottom up order, fascist dystopia, the female doing the exact same thing, have sex with her robot boyfriend in the shower, he doesn’t even have any books, the books she was collecting up, a Borges, this is what they do to show they’re intellectual, books are never ever mentioned in the original short story, agency, other novels and stories do that, it isn’t a criticism of Amazon really, “one day we will be Amazon!”, a critique of capitalism.

Autofac by Philip K. Dick - Galaxy, November 1955

Autofac by Philip K. Dick - Galaxy, November 1955

Autofac by Philip K. Dick - Galaxy, November 1955

Posted by Jesse Willis