Vacancy – Science Fiction Role

The rumblings about the potential dangers of developing technologies has got the attention of the United Nations. The event, organized by Georgia’s UN representatives and the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), was set up to foster discussion about the national and international security risks posed by new technologies. There was a focus on artificial intelligence. See more about the article here.

This does not come as a surprise to me. You only need to look at my short stories – Agents of Repair (in Jupiter Issue 29 – Thyone) and Neptune’s Angel.


This is a good example of what I mean about progressive science fiction – pointing out the potential impact of the way science and technology could develop.

But there is far more to the impact of artificial intelligence than I have portrayed in these stories.

  1. I knew the potential dangers of what I was writing about and was very careful to miss out some of the crucial technology bits. This was in part not to scare the knowledgable readers and in part not to encourage the development of artificial intelligence along certain ‘promising’ lines of development that could lead to problems.
  2. I have since been trying to predict how things could go with the ever increasing capabilities of artificial intelligence. It’s not as straightforward as it might at first appear. There are a lot of ifs and buts knocking around. More work needs to be done by the professionals in this area to get a better of handle on the matter. I just know enough to know how complicated and convoluted the debate will become.
  3. A crunch point will come when a fundamental decision about a matter of principle needs to made. Do we continue to develop artificial intelligence or do we curtail its abilities? Experience with other technologies suggest you can’t stop technology being developed that has the capability for being used for nasty purposes. What you can do is ring fence the technology for it being used for beneficial activities.
  4. But that requires the necessary legislation to be put into place.
  5. Whatever happens with artificial intelligence, it is going to affect the way we live. You only need to look at the difference home computers have made since the 1980s and the internet since the 1990s to our lives.

This is where science fiction has a crucial role to play. It can let people know what is coming around the corner with technology and point out what should be done with it to avoid disasters. It’s a kind of education process for the person in the street who does understand technology-speak (I refuse to use the word technobabble here because it is not babble).

Yes there are some science fiction stories being published about various forms of artificial intelligence. A few of them are even in the near future, but they are too few and far between all the other science fiction stories. There is definitely a vacant role within science fiction that is not being satisfied – portraying potential near future artificial intelligence roles in society and their consequences.

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