Tag Archives: vernor vinge


The cutting edge can cut through.

Vernor Vinge published this  about the dawn of a post human world in ’93. Lots of stuff about the internet and Usenets and the group mind. He did this followup in 2003.  This is his homepage, last updated in 2004 / 2005. You would think, given the nature of his interests, he would have done a better job of putting his ideas out on the net. Where is the blog, the twitter, the facebook? Sigh.

But the article did make me think.

In ’93, I was 14, worrying over my inability to solve quadratic equations. The first thing I would have done, if I had access to this super intelligent system – uploaded a little module on quadratic equations a la matrix, into my head. I would certainly not have any traumatic experiences of failing unit tests (Yes. Failing a 15 mark unit test caused enough trauma that I worked butt out for the next 5 years to make sure I never went through the pain again)

Every life decision would have been presented to the ‘network’ in pretty much the same way as some ancestors (and some contemporaries 😀 ) present questions to astrologer du jour. I’d get one of two things

a) An ideal decision and my little mind would be free to… to what? What would I think ? How would the mind stay occupied if it didn’t sort through the mistakes of my past and contemplate all the possible disasters of the future? Wither surprise and where joy , if I knew outcome going in. While I crave certainty, I’m sure this is not a craving that should be fully satisfied.

b) All the information necessary for the ideal decision and my little mind would ‘process’ it. The sucess of this method though depends on the ‘little’ mind. The unideal decision happens not because one didn’t know the facts, but because one didn’t know oneself. Consider a question like ‘should I be a journalist’. The deciding element of information came from experience And I can’t think of any other way to gather it other than going through it all.

Or maybe there is.

You know what they say about knowledge expanding the mind.  What if this really did? What if information included a simulation rich enough to make you feel the reality? 

If the length of the simulation was the length of human time, it would be no different than living life. If it didn’t… if you just lived the life, felt the mistake/ non-mistake and came back in time to live your choice, why would you? You’ve still already lived it in the simulation and your mind has not forgotten. Unless the simulation wipes the memory out for you and leaves you at the point of having made the choice.  Or…

Sigh. Clearly the mind is too little for this thinking.