Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Chair Looks Nice

Extropia hosts Robert Sawyer
"Um, the chair looks nice -- how do I sit?"

Like a catchy hook to a good novel, that question kicked off an entertaining, hour-long discussion at this weekend's Sunday Salon. Featured this week was Robert J. Sawyer, a futurist, science fiction writer, and a man with a PC incapable of entering the metaverse:

"Forgive my lousy typing; I'm using my wife's computer with an unfamiliar, ergonomic keyboard."

Fortunately for Robert, the crowd was warm and accommodating, with one eager young man rushing onto the stage to demonstrate that metaversal chairs are quite ergonomic and can, in fact, be sat upon, metaphorically at least.

After a moment Sawyer did manage this vital act, thus ensuring himself protection from being sent into orbit in a manner not of his choosing. This preludatory posterior planting was greeted with a polite smattering of applause.

Sawyer's in-world name "SF Writer" matches that of his website, -- hey, he's got that branding thing down! -- and he was there primarily to talk about his Hugo Award-nominated book, Rollback.

Much to my surprise, Rollback is not a story about a Linden Labs server upgrade gone horribly awry, but has something to do with space aliens and the Canadian healthcare system. I guess there's no medical insurance on Zeta Reticuli, so they're all coming to earth for life-extending anal probings.

The discussion kicked off with Sawyer's take on the Extropian movement. Now since most of my regular readers are probably not familiar with the fascinating nuances of transhumanist and futurist discourse but are here instead for red hot tgirl porn, I will spare you the definitions and direct you to this Gilbert and Sullivan version of Kurzweilism instead.

The gist of Sawyer's plaint seems to be that, you know, wishing like a child upon a star doesn't make it so:

[2008/04/06 12:28] Sophrosyne Stenvaag: Rob, you speak of the coming decades as "the age of miracle and wonder" - yet seem to disagree with the notion of a technological singularity - can you nuance your views of what's ahead for us?
[2008/04/06 12:28] SF Writer: Yeah, I was on a panel about that with Vernor Vinge at a conference in Florida last month. See, I like Ray Kurzweil and all, but there's a fair bit of arm-waving. Moore's law isn't coming to an end, he says, because, well somehow we'll find a way around the limitations. And so on... that's like saying we've managed to go faster and faster every year so the speed of light can't be a barrier.

Yes! Thank you!

Next came a forty-five minute digression into how many transistors can fit on the head of a pin, accompanied by optimistically blithe statements about releasing Von Neumann nanobots into the atmosphere to create a self-replicating, sentient cloud computer that will solve the energy crisis, end world hunger, and reverse the heat death of the universe -- all laudable goals, to be sure, but just not going to happen when the fraudulent kleptocracies that rule this planet with blood and fear will turn any Wintermute baked up in their Strangelovian bunkers into yet another instrument of Neorwellian oppression upon which to stomp upon faces, transhuman or otherwise, forever.

Such dreariness aside, it wasn't until the close of the lecture that things were put back on track by a nimble-fingered nympho with a heart of gold:

[2008/04/06 13:35] Kanomi Pikajuna: Robert, as a futurist you are a connoisseur of technology and savvy to upcoming trends. So what do you think I should be -- blonde, brunette or redhead?
[2008/04/06 13:35] SF Writer: "Um, the hair looks nice -- how do I sit?"

Speaking of Rollbacks and leather boots, I was at another meeting today where a Linden mentioned that this weekend's server outages were so bad that, "Even Phil was up at nasty hours trying to straighten things out with the ISPs"!

Phight the good phight, Phil! just like last time, we's got pictors. Thanks to Soph for another wonderful Salon, and be sure to visit her site where the official transcript will magically appear. See you at the next one -- and David Brin, if you're reading this: I will give you 1,000 Lindens if you show up with Prim Hair!

POSTSCRIPT: Nobody told me David Brin was bald! :o

Extropia hosts Robert SawyerExtropia hosts Robert Sawyer

Extropia hosts Robert SawyerExtropia hosts Robert Sawyer


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