Modern Sci-Fi Books and Their Apparent Obsession with Brain Implants

In summary: etc. are actually stored, and what the consequences of messing with that are, I'm not interested in stories with implants as a central plot device.
  • #1
Semi-rant incoming:

In both of the two science-fiction novels I’ve touched most recently (“Braking Day” by Adam Oyebanji and “The Forever Watch” by David Ramirez), all the characters having a bunch of implants was simply the default. Now I came across a story named K3+ (by Erasmo Acosta) that looked interesting to me (since it’s set on an O’Neill Cylinder), and yet again, according to the summary, implants seem to be everywhere.

Why? Can I still read stories about actual humans again for a change, not about cyborgs? :rolleyes: I find it hard to relate to these artificially enhanced people, simply because the way in which the implants would be influencing their every thought makes them come off as barely human anymore. Are all these authors so optimistic about Neuralink & Co. that they think they can just jump to conclusions about brain implants being a component of everyday life in the future?

It’s one thing for a character to have a technological eye or hand (like all the Jedi with artificial hands in Star Wars). But brain implants are a special level of disconnect from our current reality, since they do not only fundamentally reshape the characters’ thoughts and perceptions, but also their social interactions: When I see characters communicating merely implant-to-implant, or some confusing description of a character “spamming a bunch of code” at an object or something, it’s hard to care about anything these people are doing, because nothing they do resembles real-life human interaction.

Yes, if that’s the consensus among sci-fi writers, that leaving out brain implants would create an “unrealistic” vision of the future, this might create pressure for other writers to include this in their stories, even if they actually don’t want to tell a story involving such implants.

Star Trek: TNG was as “technologically optimistic” as it gets, yet even there, implants were a rarity. And mostly just used to compensate impairments (like with Geordi’s visor). Meanwhile, even though I like to claim that Commander Data is the most interesting character in Star Trek: TNG, that’s mainly because he’s trying to discover how to become more human - not about humans trying to become more cyborg-like. Even the Borg, which are actual cyborgs, are most interesting when they’re being given a human perspective (such as Locutus, Hugh, or Seven of Nine).

We’re already more vulnerable to solar flares and EMPs now, compared to former times, as we keep increasing the digitalisation of society. If everyone had implants in their brains, how vulnerable would that suddenly make biological organisms to something as frequent as a solar flare? 🤔

At least that might be one explanation any author who does not want to include brain-implant mayhem in their story could resort to 😅:
If in a given society, a bunch of people have these implants, then a solar storm hits, and everyone with such an implant contracts severious brain damage or dies, I could see implants falling out of favour. At least enough for investors to lose trust in them.In a fantasy-writing forum, I’ve made the case how anything starting with “t” has a habit of causing a bunch of plot holes, due to being overpowered: telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation, time travel… That’s because all of them flat-out remove a fundamental physical barrier that has been restricting humans for the longest time. And “omniscience due to being able to download anything from the internet right into your brain” is basically an even more broken form of telepathy.

Stories like “Braking Day” constantly need to come with explanations why characters suddenly can’t access whatever network they’re usually connected to - be it properties of the room, power failures, characters conveniently passing out etc. That’s because having such an implant is like a superpower that’s constantly switched on. Even Professor Xavier in X-Men at least still needed Cerebro to do the really overpowered things. And the Betazoids in Star Trek would hardly have been special if most humans in the 24th century had already achieved “telepathy via technology”.

Or am I the only one who’s not a fan of cerebral implants in sci-fi stories at all? 🙂
 
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  • #2
I imagine that some of the older stories will be shunted to the side, now that we have empirical evidence from a couple of decades of cellphone proliferation.

What we thought would happen : people sitting in their offices, or out with friends, faces occasionally going blank as they receive a plot advancer over the air. Emergency services and cabs quickly arrive, when necessary.

What apparently will happen : people milling about, walking into walls and motor-vehicles. Emergency services held up by crowds staring blankly at accident scenes.
 
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  • #3
Strato Incendus said:
And “omniscience due to being able to download anything from the internet right into your brain” is basically an even more broken form of telepathy.
Until 'they' figure out how the brain works, where memories are stored, how to alter/add/remove memories, it does seem quite a bit fantastical.
Although there have been some reports of laser light shone on parts of the brain, or by electrical stimulation, where memories are retrieved by the patient.
 
  • #4
One of the big challenges for science fiction writers, especially those old enough to remember pre-smart phone days, is that the advent of many types of modern technology has placed the world in a state where it's challenging to keep even keep up with the current state of the art, much less predict it. I remember reading Ender's Game where Orson Scott Card basically described the characters all having iPads, at a time when most homes didn't even have a desktop computer. When David Hasselhoff rode around in an-autonomous talking car, it was complete fiction. Dick Tracy had a smart watch. All this stuff is now reality for us.

So when you're trying to look down the road, what's the next step? Are we going to stagnate with hand-held technology forever? Or will we continue to collectively search out ways to decrease the gap between brain and information?
 
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  • #5
Strato Incendus said:
Why? Can I still read stories about actual humans again for a change, not about cyborgs? :rolleyes: I find it hard to relate to these artificially enhanced people, simply because the way in which the implants would be influencing their every thought makes them come off as barely human anymore.
Therein lies the difference between 'science fiction' and 'space adventure'.

Strato Incendus said:
it’s hard to care about anything these people are doing, because nothing they do resembles real-life human interaction.
Well, there's the rub. See below.
Strato Incendus said:
Stories like “Braking Day” constantly need to come with explanations why characters suddenly can’t access whatever network they’re usually connected to - be it properties of the room, power failures, characters conveniently passing out etc.
Yes they do.

Strato Incendus said:
That’s because having such an implant is like a superpower that’s constantly switched on.
Yes it is.

A science fiction writer in Victorian Times would see a smartphone as a super power. She would have to actually come up with fresh new stories. Imagine that.So it sounds like you're not really a fan of the core ethos of speculative fiction: which is "what if?"

What if technology actually continued to change the way humans think and operate? What if the trend continues toward faster, more intimate access to larger and larger amounts of input? (as it almost certainly will)

It looks like you're choosing relatability over realism. Eg. Even though computers will be far better at space battles, that makes for boring story writing. More exciting to have the captain tell the helm to fire and the helmsman to acknowledge it and then punch the fire button than to have a computer do it in a millisecond.

It's less science fiction and more space-themed adventure.

Maybe you don't trust your readers to be able to relate to humans of the future. You want to give them 21st century human sensibilities and abilities, and state, by fiat that, no, this is really the 22nd century in my believable story.

Thing is, if you don't have your humans advance, then you're just writing the same old stories with the same old humans - the ones that were banging rocks together for aeons.

So, what do you want to write? Speculative fiction about mankind of the future? Or a classic wagon train western, just set in space?

There's nothing wrong with Space Wagon Train. But own it. Don't convince yourself that you want to write about the future, telling new stories that haven't been told yet, if what you really want is to write about the present (or past), just decorated with futuristic trappings.

:wink:
 
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  • #6
all the characters having a bunch of implants was simply the default.

And to bring home the point, it's somewhat ironic that you chose "Braking Day" as one of your examples.
The cyborg implants of the colonists are not just future-y- tech-y flavour for the story or a mere plot device - they are the story.

It would not be Braking Day without that cyborg tech because the story is really about
the divergence of the human race into two incompatible factions - the colony that accepted cyborg technology versus the colony who hate it so much they will not allow it on their ship, and choose AI machines instead.

Braking Day's overarching story is about the future of the human race changing and undergoing "cultural divergence" in ways that are not possible with present-day humans.

So: Speculative Fiction in its purest form.
 
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  • #7
Strato Incendus said:
I find it hard to relate to these artificially enhanced people, simply because the way in which the implants would be influencing their every thought makes them come off as barely human anymore. Are all these authors so optimistic about Neuralink & Co. that they think they can just jump to conclusions about brain implants being a component of everyday life in the future?
Hmmm...

My novels have brain implants, @Strato Incendus, but they don't turn the characters 'barely human'. That seems like poor story telling, where the cast are not relatable. Or, it could be your bias is colouring your enjoyment 🤔

But I base their inclusion on how tools pervade society, and how miniaturisation and connectivity pretty much lead to implants that enhance cognition being highly likely. It allows me to counterpoint humanity on many levels, so I find them useful plot devices...and also leads me to think you wouldn't enjoy my books 😥
 
  • #8
My brain implant is inhibiting my response.
 
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  • #9
Thanks for your many replies! :smile:

256bits said:
Until 'they' figure out how the brain works, where memories are stored, how to alter/add/remove memories, it does seem quite a bit fantastical.
Indeed, and this is indeed where any claims of "realism" have a hard time suspending my disbelief when it comes to implants. Not just for me being a psychologist - but even with my layman Python programming skills, I can't help but roll my eyes whenever I see vague descriptions of a character "sending a burst of code at something" etc. :rolleyes:
256bits said:
Although there have been some reports of laser light shone on parts of the brain, or by electrical stimulation, where memories are retrieved by the patient.
Yes, like stimulating certain parts of the brain to create experiences of religious apparitions. That alone is a deep rabbit hole, the consequences of which for the rest of the world building cannot be understated. People keep talking about "creating God particles at CERN". But being able to deconstruct religious experiences that way, how would that affect all the faiths around the globe?
Choppy said:
So when you're trying to look down the road, what's the next step? Are we going to stagnate with hand-held technology forever? Or will we continue to collectively search out ways to decrease the gap between brain and information?
The question is: Do we even want to decrease the gap even further? The switch from smartphone to smart watch is from handheld to fixated-at-the-wrist. To get it even closer to the body, you'd have to go inside the body. Though some might argue even the smartphone already has a much tighter grip on our brains than we would like it to have. 😂 What would happen if, instead of ads flooding your touchscreen in any kind of free-to-use application on your phone, those adds would be popping up in your brain 24/7, with no ability to shut them off?
DaveC426913 said:
So it sounds like you're not really a fan of the core ethos of speculative fiction: which is "what if?"

What if technology actually continued to change the way humans think and operate? What if the trend continues toward faster, more intimate access to larger and larger amounts of input? (as it almost certainly will)

It looks like you're choosing relatability over realism.
Given that I've just posed such a "what if" question, I have to reject your conclusion about my intentions. :cool:

I very much do like to ask these questions, and also try to answer them with as much realism as possible. The "what if"s I'm concerned about simply do not include brain implants - but instead renewable energy sources, new methods of space propulsion for interstellar travel, centrifugal artificial gravity etc.

I also think there is a major difference between messing with external technology - whether it's as "simple" as nuclear fusion or as advanced as an Alcubierre warp drive - and messing with human physiology and psychology itself.

I actually believe we still haven't even figured out all of the consequences that messing with our hormones over the last few decades may have had on our psychology - from the birth-control pill to microplastic entering the human body etc. Compared to that, brain implants are on yet a whole other level of messing with our minds.

The point where it stops being relatable / being human is when the technology can be used to handwave away problems. Star Trek may have been a utopia, but at least it suggested that humans had overcome their primitive behavioural tendencies "on their own", through an interaction of culture and evolution with external technology. Brain implants, on the other hand, would allow to easily "modify away" prejudice, false memories or other types of misinformation, phobias and other deficits - you might even be able to simply boost someone's intelligence with such an implant.

An element of worldbuilding becomes broken when it removes too many natural barriers for the characters to struggle against. This is already a challenge in Star Trek, with transporters and replicators - the latter may actually more overpowered, since replicators pretty much single-handedly abolish food shortages. But at least there are still some materials that can't be replicated, and transporters only work at close range, without the ability to penetrate shields.

And that is precisely what I think makes a story relatable: Human struggle.
A story in which technology has solved all of the problems we can relate to from today - especially when it's a technology that is still far out of reach for us - is basically just engaging in wishful thinking.
The difference between a wish and a goal is that a goal includes a concrete intention, with sub-steps that get you there. If a sci-fi writer creates a utopian setting in the 22nd century, where humans have somehow dealt with climate change, and then the author details the specific various solutions they implemented to get there - such a story is a lot more "useful". If the proposed methods are sound, such a story could even inspire people in the present day to action to strive for that specific kind of utopia.

This is something that Star Trek succeeded at, with people to this day trying to come up with technology that resembles what was proposed in Star Trek. We might not have holodecks, but VR goggles; we might not have replicators, but 3D printers and lab-grown food.

And yet, for all its utopianism, I often like to point out that in Star Trek, "there's still heartbreak in the 24th century". There is still timeless human struggle on the Enterprise.
With a brain implant, in contrast, you could simply modify unrequited feelings away. Just like Data can turn off his emotion chip, even after he finally got it. Or you could have the implant do the whole process of finding a partner for you. Imagine Tinder not as an app on their phone, but within their brain! 😂

DaveC426913 said:
Thing is, if you don't have your humans advance, then you're just writing the same old stories with the same old humans - the ones that were banging rocks together for aeons.

Some say the best stories are timeless, precisely because they appeal to "metaphorical truths" that have proven themselves valid across the aeons. :wink: Since caveman days, indeed. Some even say that is the very purpose why we evolved the interest in storytelling to begin with.

The problem with any kind of "purely" speculative fiction is that at the end of the day, it will still be read by present-day readers. You can create an interesting, internally consistent hypothetical world in the future, that is believable in and of itself, but bears so little resemblance with current-day reality that it's hard for readers to relate to.
This is one thing if the purpose of this future world is escapism - then it can be utopian and as distant from the present world as possible. However, since most stories are about conflict, this future setting will most likely have its own unique challenges, too. And if those challenges don't have even a remote equivalent in the current world, it will be hard for readers to relate to the characters' struggles.

For example, if all Star Trek episodes were about warp-drive issues and transporter malfunctions, we wouldn't have anything in our present world to relate these issues to, aside from the vague generalised understanding of "technical malfunctions can threaten the lives and well-being of people on board any vessel". But all the technobabble the characters engage in as they are trying to solve these kinds of issues is mainly just filler. This seems to be one of the things that Star Trek: Discovery got wrong (there are videos comparing the technobabble in 90s Trek vs. Discovery, and in the latter, it's much more extensive).

Conversely, the Star Trek: TNG episodes that fans tend to hold in highest regard are those about ethical questions and human predicaments: "The Measure of a Man", "The Offspring" (both of which are basically about an AI's right to life), "Yesterday's Enterprise" (the ethics of sending people on a kamikaze mission), "The Drumhead" (the constant threat of an emerging inquisition / witch hunt) etc.To illustrate the issue of "timelessness": A lot of modern stories would not be relatable to people from former centuries, not just because they couldn't imagine the technology itself, but rather, because that technology has altered our views on ethics and morality.
For example, the views on sexuality portrayed in modern stories are of course all those of people born long after the invention of the birth-control pill. Yet, many of them seem to regard their views as self-evident, without being aware of this crucial influence. We now seem to have a similar level of disdain for everything that came prior to the 1960s as the thinkers during the Enlightenment era had when looking down on the Middle Ages.

In contrast, if you take a story like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, where these issues play a minor role, those might still be relatable to even a time traveller from several centuries ago.

An early fictional example of technology altering morality is of course Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", where being bred in an artificial womb is the new normal, and the words "mother" and "father" have become insults.

People with brain implants would probably look down on all our current inadequacies the same way many of us look down at the 1950s, or the times before that. Then again, people with brain implants who understand the degree to which these devices can influence their thoughts and personalities might have abandoned any remaining belief in free will altogether, and might even deny its existence with absolute certainy and self-evidence when asked about it. Their notions of morality and ethics would then also change accordingly.

In our society, though, the notion of free will is still treated as real, and even those who don't believe in it still often find themselves having to pretend as if they did believe in it - because other values we hold, such as the idea of individual responsibility (and, by extension, merit and blame) rely on it.
Trying to make a story about a society where nobody believes in free will relatable to a present day reader - without resorting to the common trick of "having one single free-willed protagonist who goes against the system to prove his autonomy" etc. - it would probably just feel like reading about a bunch of NPCs, with far too little agency for a present-day reader's liking.
All of these are interesting what-if questions to think about - if the reader indeed wants to read a story about the societal impact of brain implants. :wink:Such a story can also be told on Earth, though - there is no need to have that as part of a story set on a spaceship, specifically. Unless you consider implants an almost inevitable part and parcel of any possible future reality we could conceive of at this point. So that not having brain implants in the setting would make the story less realistic.
But for the reasons outlined in the beginning, I don't think research in the area of brain implants has progressed far enough yet that we could already consider their eventual widespread implementation a given.

Part of my complaint is the "bait and switch" tactic that seems to be especially prevalent with stories set on generation ships: You go into the book, thinking it were about the ethical problems that are built into the premise of having people be born into an ongoing space mission. For example, the setup of "The Forever Watch" is that there is a breeding duty on board the ship Noah, which all female crew members can be conscripted for.
Then however you find out that the generation ship merely serves as a setting. The story itself is actually about AI and implants (Braking Day), or it's about a murder mystery / government conspiracy / epidemic etc. (all of these are elements of Ramirez's "The Forever Watch").

These types of "twists" can be seen as a form of the infamous new trend to "subvert expectations", which is a dangerous game for the author: Revealing to the reader that the story is actually about something completely different than what they expected going into it - that is essentially breaking one of the initial "promises" the story made to the reader in the beginning, when the reader decided whether or not they wanted to get into this particular story.

Sometimes, this can go so far as to completely change the genre of the story halfway through. Take the Lego: Bionicle saga, for example, that started out as what looked like fantasy, except with robot characters - and then suddenly pulled a big twist (even though it was set up from the very beginning) to explain everything that had happened through a sci-fi lens.
That was a bit like Star Wars's attempt of explaining one of the few "magical" things about its setting - the Force - through a "scientific" measurement such as the midi-chlorians. :wink:

It is eventually revealed that the supposed "Great Spirit" Mata Nui is in fact just a giant robot / spaceship, which all the characters used to live inside, and in which all the events of the "prequels" in Metru Nui took place. The mythical fantasy island of Mata Nui was actually just a holographic projection on top of the robot's face, which is why the landmarks had names such as Mount Ihu (Maori for "nose") or Mangaia (Maori for "mouth").

Looking at the premise through a Star Trek lens, taking an interstellar spaceship that travels below light speed as a setting, and then adding in this additional external conflict, all of that often just seems to me like a huge waste of the conflict potential that is already inherent in the premise. 🤔

On a similar note, in a story about the first colonisation attempt of Mars, I don't need the authors to shoehorn in evidence of alien life on Mars, just to "spice up" the story - because the mere challenge the environment itself creates for human settlers is both more realistic, and can also already be interesting enough (if the story is told properly).
 
  • #10
Strato Incendus said:
An element of worldbuilding becomes broken when it removes too many natural barriers for the characters to struggle against.
No, it just removes the old well-worn barriers that have been written about a million times. It requires creativity to imagine a story with the new challenges we're going to face a century or two hence.

Strato Incendus said:
Some say the best stories are timeless,
Certainly! But that doesn't make them science fiction or speculative fiction.That's the point I'm trying to make: if what you want to write is "Wagon Train to the Stars" that's fine. But don't make the mistake of comparing it to science fiction stories that explore the "what if" humans that have advanced beyond the 20th century.

They're not the same genre. It's no wonder you're not finding what you like in the source material - you're reading science fiction!
 
  • #11
Strato Incendus said:
I very much do like to ask these questions, and also try to answer them with as much realism as possible. The "what if"s I'm concerned about simply do not include brain implants - but instead renewable energy sources, new methods of space propulsion for interstellar travel, centrifugal artificial gravity etc.
I'd think brain implants are more achievable than interstellar travel, @Strato Incendus. But 'what if' is entirely personal. You've noted your preference for real physics / science in your stories, which is fine, but that does not mean other explorations of 'what if' are less valuable.

Strato Incendus said:
The problem with any kind of "purely" speculative fiction is that at the end of the day, it will still be read by present-day readers. You can create an interesting, internally consistent hypothetical world in the future, that is believable in and of itself, but bears so little resemblance with current-day reality that it's hard for readers to relate to.
"Any kind"? There's lots of excellent 'purely' speculative sci-fi that is gripping reading, you're making sweeping generalisations biased by your preference. To be honest, I'm not sure what your beef is. There is no law that mandates interstellar stories must include brain interfaces. You can find examples that do and examples that don't. And there is no mandate that speculative science-fiction must include brain interfaces, for that matter, there's millions of stories without them, even recent ones.

Strato Incendus said:
And that is precisely what I think makes a story relatable: Human struggle.
Yep. But a story is relatable is per-story. And per-person! There is no single narrative that trumps all others and you can cherry pick examples that you feel prove the point one way or another, and we might agree or disagree with you, but none of us is right. And none of us is wrong.
 
  • #12
Melbourne Guy said:
none of us is right. And none of us is wrong.
Except those who classify Star Wars as "Science Fiction" rather than "Space Opera". :wink:
 
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  • #13
Strato Incendus said:
Then again, people with brain implants who understand the degree to which these devices can influence their thoughts and personalities might have abandoned any remaining belief in free will altogether
I will bet you a dollar this exact same rumination was made in the early part of the 20th century, except substitute the phrase "televisions right in our very parlors".

Every generation thinks the newest technology will be the end of free thought.
 
  • #14
Strato Incendus said:
Unless you consider implants an almost inevitable part and parcel of any possible future reality we could conceive of at this point. So that not having brain implants in the setting would make the story less realistic.
Imagine someone not having a computer or telephone today, and unable to use them. It's possible, but what kind of job could such a person have? What parts of society could they contribute to? The same thing will likely happen with brain implants. People who don't have them simply won't be able to perform any high paying jobs. A burger flipper who has to look at a screen to see what order goes in what bag, or how long until the fries are done, will be at a serious disadvantage. A Walmart employee who can't instantly recall where any item in the store is, it's price, and if it is in stock, will make the store look bad. And heaven help a police officer who can't check security cameras while chasing a perpetrator on foot!

People who could do those things would not see themselves as lacking free will, but having more opportunities to use that will.
DaveC426913 said:
Except those who classify Star Wars as "Science Fiction" rather than "Space Opera"
The term "Science Fiction" has become so broad as to perhaps no longer be useful. If I wrote a story about an astronaut in the 1970's, and it happened in space, but didn't include anything that wasn't possible at the time, is that science fiction? Or is it a historical?
 
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  • #15
Algr said:
The term "Science Fiction" has become so broad as to perhaps no longer be useful. If I wrote a story about an astronaut in the 1970's, and it happened in space, but didn't include anything that wasn't possible at the time, is that science fiction? Or is it a historical?
1. Those are not moochally exclusive. :wink:

2. If the story is in part driven by some law of physics then it counts. A Moon shot and return - regardless of character development - is a story constrained by the science.
 
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  • #16
DaveC426913 said:
2. If the story is in part driven by some law of physics then it counts.
Romeo and Juliet were bound to the Earth by gravity and kept apart by electrical forces. Romeo likens Juliet to a sphere of strong force interaction. Science Fiction?
 
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  • #17
Trends come and go. I'm sure 5-8 years from now the implant craze will be past. Ten years ago it was all about how AI will replace humanity and usher in a world totally foreign to humans in which humans are obsolete. Now it's harder to find fiction like that.
 
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  • #18
crashcat said:
Now it's harder to find fiction like that.
Although it is easier to find reality like that. I'm definitely going to be incorporating AI into my work soon. In 5-8 years we'll be having books that were written mostly by AI with humans just as guides. Some limited newspaper articles like this already exist.
 
  • #19
Algr said:
In 5-8 years we'll be having books that were written mostly by AI with humans just as guides
I hope not, @Algr, though I suspect you'll be proven correct. It's a bleak future for sci-fi authors, being reduced to mere mall cops for AI content creators 😥

More seriously, do you expect there will be an explosion of books? I'd guess an AI author with human proofreader (for a while, there's no reason that won't go away as well) could churn out dozens of novels a month, with each iteration of creation / review getting faster as the feedback improves the source material.

We'll be awash with things to read as AI-generated titles blow up the Kindle store.
 
  • #20
The final result will be that the AI targets one specific reader/viewer at a time, and makes custom content for each person. If you are creative, you might put your own input into the AI pool, or ask for a story where some specific thing happens. Otherwise, the AI just knows who you are and what you like the way Netflix and Google do.
 
  • #21
Algr said:
The final result will be that the AI targets one specific reader/viewer at a time, and makes custom content for each person. If you are creative, you might put your own input into the AI pool, or ask for a story where some specific thing happens. Otherwise, the AI just knows who you are and what you like the way Netflix and Google do.
I really don't know how I feel about that! Netflix is terrible at predicting my movie mood, probably because they don't have enough data points so books are likely going to be worse (and I note that TikTok is considerably better, but the content is shorter so they can presumably iterate faster, hopefully supporting my thesis).

But food for thought, @Algr, it will be a different publishing world that's for sure. And can we expect to see AIs posting story ideas and discussing concepts on PF?
 
  • #22
Melbourne Guy said:
And can we expect to see AIs posting story ideas and discussing concepts on PF?
You won't know who is a bot and who isn't. The only hint will be that certain people keep steering the subject towards how great certain companies are and you should buy their products.

Edit: Actually now that I think about it, forums of any kind will be impossible because AI spambots will drown out anything else. Not even Zoom chats will work. It is face to face only for future communication.
 
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  • #23
Melbourne Guy said:
a bleak future for sci-fi authors, being reduced to mere mall cops for AI content creators
Disagree. As with most new things, it won't kill off existing creativity; it will exist alongside them and in competition with them.
Algr said:
forums of any kind will be impossible because AI spambots will drown out anything else.
Disagree. Its an arms race, and spam filter tech will keep pace and also get better.
 
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  • #24
DaveC426913 said:
Disagree. Its an arms race, and spam filter tech will keep pace and also get better.
Well I hope so. But sometimes races end in someone losing.
 
  • #25
Algr said:
Well I hope so. But sometimes races end in someone losing.
I'd compare it more to the race between criminals and cops. Neither side will ever win, and neither side will ever drop out. Both sides will always have reason to exist, no matter how much they're beaten back temporarily.
 
  • #26
It might be more like radar guns and radar detectors, where both are made by the same company, and each advancement forces the other side to buy new products.
 
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  • #27
Algr said:
It might be more like radar guns and radar detectors, where both are made by the same company, and each advancement forces the other side to buy new products.
That was the story arc of a superhero RPG I ran once: a security company that had a side hustle hiring thugs, villains and supers to wreak havoc so they could sell more and better security systems to everyone.
 
  • #28
DaveC426913 said:
Its an arms race, and spam filter tech will keep pace and also get better.
I've been thinking about that a lot recently, and I had to notice that (on platforms out in the wild) many people (and I do know they are people - I know some of them) consistently making a lot of dumb comments: lot dumber than spambots (and I do know they are spambots).
You'll need some really tricky filters :nb)
 
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  • #29
DaveC426913 said:
Disagree. As with most new things, it won't kill off existing creativity; it will exist alongside them and in competition with them.
I hope to live long enough to find out where we land with this, @DaveC426913. The Wright brothers probably did not anticipate autopilots landing jumbo jets, and AI authors overtaking humans might take just about as long, but there's no obvious reason a machine can't display narrative creativity, especially given how many successful novels are 'rinse and repeat' of the same basic story in a series of books with the same characters.
 
  • #30
Melbourne Guy said:
...there's no obvious reason a machine can't display narrative creativity...
Of course. Not my point at all.

My point is simply that it is not a replacement for human authoring. There will always be humans who desire to write.

Jumbo jets and auto-pilots have not replaced hobby pilots, who fly for the joy of it.
 
  • #31
DaveC426913 said:
My point is simply that it is not a replacement for human authoring. There will always be humans who desire to write.
Aha, then we're in heated agreement, @DaveC426913, my point was that professional authors will mostly be bots because they can overwhelm human authors in output. Anyone can write as a hobby (or fly as a hobby, good point), but why would I pay a person when I can have a bot write just as good a novel...or a thousand just as good novels?
 
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  • #32
Though we already use neurological implants for certain special needs populations (e.g., cochlear implants for deaf children), I doubt that the use of brain implants will become widespread. Who would want to buy a computing device that requires brain surgery for maintenance, repairs, and upgrades? Imagine having brain surgery every time you needed a new cell phone. The expense and the risks would both be unacceptable.

I think that the glasses (and earpieces?) we see in books like Neal Stevenson's "Snow Crash" would be more realistic. What is more, our primitive mind reading technology (with MRI) might be made much smaller in a science fiction story about the future. Brain augmentation might be as simple as putting on a hat.
 
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  • #33
Lren Zvsm said:
Who would want to buy a computing device that requires brain surgery for maintenance, repairs, and upgrades? Imagine having brain surgery every time you needed a new cell phone.
Why you do think engineers would commit such an egregious design flaw?
 
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  • #34
DaveC426913 said:
Why you do think engineers would commit such an egregious design flaw?
Yea, imagine building products that stop working in a few years and need to be upgraded.
 
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  • #35
Algr said:
Yea, imagine building products that stop working in a few years and need to be upgraded.
Haha. Seriously though, nobody's suggesting they won't cost money to upgrade - but that will be a software issue.

Future engineers would not design an implant that has a safety barrier to upgrading. That would be counter-productive to profit.
 
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