Hindenburg’s Vimana Joyride
AIs are the aliens of the 21st Century. As both the economics of getting mass out of a gravity well (about $11,000 per kilogram) and the hostile space environment (to which humans simply haven’t evolved…yet) returned space exploration down to near Earth (commercial satellites) after the prestigious — and very expensive — Moon landings, both the interest and the likelihood of aliens dwindled. The fact that the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) hasn’t turned up anything in 50 years hasn’t helped matters, either. Humans are, in general, not very patient (maybe a dose of extreme longevity would come in handy).
So if we can’t find the alien, why not create it? Obviously, in the real world this is already happening (although we’re merely at the very start of a long, ongoing process), and SF has already been speculating on the possible outcomes. Precious little science fiction sees Artificial Intelligence as benign or beneficial, though (long echoes of the Frankenstein complex), and even less SF can see the funny side of it.
Not Ernest Hogan, though: with the gonzo aplomb and Chicano chutzpah that are second nature to him, he depicts the technological singularity not as an unfathomable event, nor as the end of the world as we know it, but rather as “Hindenburg’s Vimana Joyride”.
“GOD DAMN FUCKING TECHNOLOGY!” Victor Theremin screamed.
Then he crossed his arms, admiring the motel’s pseudo-PreColumbian decor, the nearby hoodooistic mountains, the mural of the giant spider, and the sacred Datura growing by the street. Moab, Utah was a nice town. He always thought of it when writing about colonies on Mars.
“Victor? Victor Theremin?” The door did not open. Continue reading