Monday, February 10, 2020

Charles Stross - Accelerando


My first Stross novel deals with the Singularity, a 'hypothetical moment in time when any physically conceivable level of technological advancement is attained instantaneously'. (Yeah, that explanation isn't mine, it's too intelligent.)


... but it isn't just about all the events leading up to the Singularity, it's also about what happens afterwards. Charless Stross thought of the Singularity as a point in time where the only purpose is achieving maximal computational capacity. If a complex set of AI's and post-human intelligences are existing in a complex set of interlocking and overlapping networks and super computers, then their goal would be to maximize their living space, and thus would convert all matter in the solar system into 'quantibazillions' of nano computers, processing elements build on an atomic level.

Well, it fixes the Fermi paradox, that's for sure, but it would also mean all relevant stars in the universe would be dark. Which isn't the case as far as I can tell... A more cynical mind might suggest that the stars we still see are the ones which were not suitable for conversion, or have not yet had their Singularity.

What makes the book interesting is that it considers the Singularity not as an endpoint, but as a point on a timeline. In other words the universe still exists after that moment in time, even for the intelligences involved. Another way to describe his take on the Singularity is the moment where evolution selected a dead end: the ultra intelligent brains resulting from the Singularity, after converting all matter into nano-computers, have nowhere to go. Their computing power requires power, and they get that power from the sun. Move away from the sun, and you shut down the computing elements due to the lack of energy.

But... that assumes natures laws won't be broken, and that we live in a perfect Newtonian / Einsteinium universe. And perhaps, just perhaps, Stross got it wrong, if just a little bit. I can imagine those same super intelligences building a starship, to spread some of their core code / entity essentials, as that is something evolution tends to do: evolved beings evolve further to fill ecological niches, survive changing circumstances or invade other habitats.

The verdict

Interesting read, mostly because of the different take on the Singularity. I know the book is a slightly (?) enhanced retelling of a set of loose stories. What lets it down a bit is that it suggests certain events, but doesn't detail them or explain them, so the reader is left with 'gaps' in the story.

Interesting and worth your time? I guess so.

Dapper 169 / TellTales! 102

No comments:

Post a Comment