Synthetic Super Intelligent Life


Discussions of "synthetic super intelligent life" are highly speculative. To get some background on this subject, I recommend the following:

(1) Wikipedia Synthetic intelligence:

(2) Wikipedia Technological singularity:

(3) Wikipedia Virtual reality:

Browsing will bring you to many other interesting sites.

A Few of Many Online Resources

Virtual Reality Research:

Recording Human Lives:

Stanford Virtual Reality Lab

Microsoft Research, MyLifeBIts

EPFL Virtual Reality Lab

Time Travel and Virtual Reality

The Thirteenth Floor

Is there enough computational power to support super intelligent life?

My point of view is that there is plenty of "room at the top" in terms of computer capabilities. See for example the article by Seth Loyd (pdf) and the article in Edge about the same topic (pdf). As to intelligent machines generally, you can follow current results on the Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence website.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)

I recommend the following article by Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer, SETI Institute:

What Will ET Look Like and Why Do We Care? (pdf) 60th Int. Astronautical Conference 2009.

Science fiction based on solid science can be helpful for guiding discussions of speculative issues in computer science. Our story, Which is the Real Ramon?, starts in 2060 where a young computer scientist, Amanda Stever, attends her parents' anniversary picnic which is being recorded by a new company, Event Recording and Virtual Simulation (ERVS). Amanda realizes that the avatars of the attendants at the picnic have been rendered to be self aware. To protect her avatar she hides from the recording cameras of ERVS. The story then moves to 2140 where ERVS is making big money by allowing gamers to attack the human avatars in their events database. Laura, a computer expert at ERVS, furious with this abuse of avatars, trains microbots to attack the companies computers. The intelligent microbots manage to escape earth. These events alarm an alien civilization of secretive highly advanced microbots who have been recording the natural history of the earth since late Jurassic. They decide it is time to introduce themselves to humans. gill williamson

6 x 9 paperback

Stories of the enrichment of human culture through galactic exploration have entertained millions of people. In these stories, travel at faster than the speed of light is assumed as a way to compensate for the shortness of human life. Other problems abound, including the frailty of biologically evolved organisms. In Which is the Real Ramon? we explore how advances in computer science, such as virtual reality and synthetic intelligence, can allow for a form of galactic exploration linked to human culture and experience. The nature of human participation in these explorations at first disappoints the characters in our story, but they gradually adjust to a new, extended conception of self.

The Author's Notes section at the end discusses the scientific ethical, and philosophical issues that emerge as the story develops. References are given to Wikipedia articles that relate to the story (as of 2020).


Which is the Real Ramon? combines a shortened version of my novella, The Observers (2009 out of print) with my unpublished short story The Avatars Remember Nothing. The civilization of the microbots in both stories is referred to as The Observers. Below we give Vernor Vinge's interesting comments on such a civilization.

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Comments by computer scientist, futurist and author, Vernor Vinge:

Are there possibilities that we humans should have recognized long before they finally forced themselves on us? One such is the idea that microbial life exists and can cause disease. After all, we see life in greater and greater profusion at ever smaller sizes down to the limits of our vision. Even without microscopes, there should have been suspicion that the trend doesn't stop at the limits of human eyesight. Our ancestors conceived of "invisible spirits" but they rarely wrote about the possibility of invisibly small antagonists.

Nowadays, I think there may be a similar oversight committed by people who talk about flying saucers and little green men -- or even Fermi's paradox. The universe is more than 13 billion years old. We have good evidence that planets have been nearly ubiquitous for most of that time. If technological intelligence has comparable age, why would it not be widespread too, and how could we miss it? S. Gill Williamson's story suggests a very cool explanation.

-- Vernor Vinge


Additional author's notes, extending those in the Author's Notes section of Which is the Real Ramon? are below. These cover topics that are more tangential and speculative, including UFO's. Wikipedia links are suggested, but more general web searches yield much interesting material.

Extended Author Notes