Thanks for reading – this is a taste of a few of the things in my feed reading over the last few months. Yeah, I have eclectic tastes but when you’re a writer, you just never know what’s going to spark your world.
Legal Rules For Space
With all the major powers looking to space exploration and “harvesting” of raw materials, we are pretty much in a wild west kind of legal limbo. There are agreements in place but not much in the way of enforcement. Here is a reasoned discussion of this future need.
The year is 2087. Thanks to a series of serendipitous technological breakthroughs a few decades earlier, the creation of large-scale, self-sustainable human habitats beyond Earth has become feasible. There are already close to half a million people living on Mars, many of them native Martians. You can read the entire article here.
Every now and then I try to share a few of the many articles that pass my desk about future tech. It’s fascinating stuff indeed and I could spend days reading about what different countries and researchers are doing.
Having said that, I’m not at all sure I want too much more tech in my life. I don’t know about you but the more I have, the more complicated life tends to get. And I find myself deleting apps, simplifying my daily routines and deleting the many news feeds I really don’t read.
Mind you, I also got a VR headset for Christmas so…..Yeah, the kid in me can’t resist something bright, new and shiny. I’ll get back to you with how much I really wind up using it.
Alexa, What Are You Doing with My Family’s Personal Info?
I don’t have any smart devices in our home because I’m still not convinced I want/need them in any reasonable way.My only experience with them was over dinner in a friend’s home, one of them started talking. It was responding to something said in the conversation even though it hadn’t been aimed at it.“Always listening” just creeps me out and here’s another take on this from Scientific American.
This Neural NetThis This Neural Network Built by Japanese Researchers Can ‘Read Minds’
Now, this is a bit creepy too.“The new technique, dubbed “deep image reconstruction,” moves beyond binary pixels, giving researchers the ability to decode images that have multiple layers of color and structure.”
I have not read this book but I did watch the videos on this page and they were enough for me.The age of em is basically the theory by some computer AI people that the first really smart robots will be human brain emulations or “ems.”Fascinating thoughts.
Maybe Sex Robots Will Make Men, Not Women, Obsolete
And finally, you may recall a note about sex robots and AI from a few months ago where you might marry a robot.Well…. Here’s another look at sex robots that might make men obsolete.Me? I know better than to get into this debate but you…
Poe’s famous line of “Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear,” may have had a point at the time but it’s now time to rethink his original position.
In short, “don’t believe a damn thing unless you were there and even then, be suspicious of your memory.”
What a way to live!
Let’s examine the current state of the art. This isn’t science fiction or fantasy, it’s here now and being unleashed.
And no matter what “Fake News” is being bandied about in American politics, we’ve just scratched the surface.
Faking A Voice
Well, yes but how can they really fake somebody’s voice? You can tell the difference between fake and real. Right? OK then, here’s a company that’s about to prove you wrong. Understand this is at the demo level and hasn’t yet hit the market or perfection.
But how far out can it be?
Faking An Image Of Somebody Talking
You mean you haven’t seen a cgi (computer generated imagery) movie yet? Seriously, with a decent skill level and software anybody can be seen to say anything.
It’s Now Simple
Combine the fake voice-sound and the cgi-video and you have…
That’s the world we’re headed towards at the speed of technological intrusion.
And if I can think about it, there’s a backroom political operative that’s planning on doing it.
But Here Come The White Hats
When it comes to voice recognition, there are white hats among us. One group at M.I.T. is working with technology to assist those with social recognition skill issues. Those are good people.
And then there are these folks who’ve already recognized the negative issues around fake voices and fake news and are working on a system that will help you identify fake voices.
This Is Your Very Real Future
I’ve been working on some new stories and somehow my ideas and thoughts carelessly wandered down this rabbit hole of voice recognition.
Given accurate voice synthesis such as Lyrebird, how do you tell the real from the fake moving forward?
How do you make decisions about future policies and political leadership when this technology exists and is likely to be used by the opposition.
Not only are we in a “he-said, she-said” kind of info-war, we’re in a technological battle to identify or at the very least, label your opponent as having used “fake” data.
I can hear you saying, “This is terrible but it really doesn’t apply to me in my personal life.”
This is clearly a problem for anybody in a leadership position at the moment but it doesn’t take much imagination to ask what would happen if somebody mimicked your voice in a conversation with a banker or spouse.
Now that I have your attention. This is me speaking to you and not some robot.
Before you talk about not being able to pry your phone only out of your cold, dead, steely hands, let me offer a few thoughts.
My first mobile phone was the size of a shoebox. It sat on the middle car console, plugged into a cigarette lighter and had spotty coverage. The battery for the darn thing occupied most of that space.
My current phone is an iPhone. The battery size is something out of another world when compared to that big old shoebox.
As it turns out the title of this post isn’t a question. I should have ended it with an exclamation mark. For what may be the first time, I recognized the early symptoms of being overwhelmed (I haven’t in the past) and took steps to take care of myself.
My plans for this year are ambitious. From podcasting to publishing to fitness to…. Well, let’s just say I’m a Type A who’s had his fair share of winning over the years and really hasn’t known any other way of working other than flat out.
But Mortality Struck
I’ll spare you the details but my reality is that I don’t get sick very often but when I do, I go down. Hard. Dentist to orthodontist to periodontist later, a front tooth has to come out. Bone grafts etc. Only one of two cases like that the surgeon had seen. Oh happy day!
I went down. No energy, little enthusiasm.
You know the drill, you’ve all had it.
Well, I could power through it or I could simply admit I couldn’t do it all. In the past, I’d power on through.
Seriously. Life is far too short. Life is far too sweet to push through the way I was feeling.
Yes, there were great reasons to push. Yes, I’ve almost always pushed.
But not this time. Took a very deep breath.
And thought about the kinds of things that were important to me. The people that were important and the writing projects I still wanted to do.
Be Kind To Yourself Instead
I decided it would be better to be kind to myself.
Two major projects were put on hold.
Didn’t do any podcasts.
Didn’t write any updates here.
Didn’t write any fiction.
Felt guilty at first but relaxed into it as the month progressed.
Fiction Is Important To Me And So Are You
Writing is an important part of my writing future and so are you brave few – those early readers who signed up for updates in the fiction writing world.
A measure of how important fiction is to my future is that one of the things I didn’t drop was a course in fiction writing. I hope you’ll see a big difference in future stories after this course is done.
Thanks for your patience as I get myself back on track and start sharing, writing and podcasting again.
Is There Something You Can Take From This?
I thought about this question quite a bit and whether I’d even say these things here or how I’d frame the thoughts.
I decided to share the post here because I think the message is important enough – be kind to yourself – and that most of us aren’t.
I decided to share it here because the fiction side of my writing has been the one that’s taken the brunt of my self-kindness.
This site is – and will be moving forward – exclusively for fiction and the publishing industry.
But the main question remains. Will you be kind to yourself too when you need to be?
And if not, why not?
As A Postscript
I wrote this part after I’d thought about this post and decided I’d report. Taking time for me produced some interesting results.
The world didn’t end
I didn’t lose subscribers.
I took time to read and think – ending up in a much better sense of what should be done
I’m feeling better about myself
I took the time to heal physically
Nobody wrote me complaints
The only failure was my self-imposed standard of excessive ambition.