Sunday, July 13, 2008

Vernor Vinge

The author of several popular "hard" science fiction novels, Venor Vinge is responsible for many happy hours spent reading and daydreaming. The theme of a "technological singularity" runs through many of his works. The technological singularity, or simple "The Singularity" is the notion that, if scientific advances keep coming at a faster and faster pace, then eventually you reach a point where advances are essentially simultaneous. At that point it's hard to say what happens, but in his books, races in that situation seem to "ascend," vanishing from the world of mortals. In 1993 Vinge is quoted as saying:

Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.
Given that this is 2008, that means that we have 15 years to go. At that point he will be 79, so that still gives his books a decent amount of time to sell :-) Some of the ideas that I found interesting about Vinge's works are:
  • The timespans involved: Marooned in Real Time for example takes place over the course of 50 million years.
  • The approaches he takes to super-human intelligence: rather than out-and-out replacement, his works gravitate towards gradual enchancement.
  • The notion of The Singularity.
At the end of the day, it is just reading a book or daydreaming. A far more rewarding activity would be to do something like going out and living. But, as silly activities go, I find it enjoyable :-)


SandyCarlson said...

This is intriguing. I should give this writer a try.

CyberCelt said...

I love science fiction. Usually the predictions are proven right on. If we can imagine it, it can happen and SF writers have big imaginations.

stev said...


do you think that the singularity will happen & our in life times?


Whatever said...

stev: I don't think there will be a singularity.

Your question does make me want to explain myself further, however, so let's see if I'm *motivated* enough to post a follow-up :-)

Paulie said...

Being able to read books that keep our interest is a blessing. I remember many years ago reading 1984 and was enthralled with the future way back in the 60's. . . I will have to look up this author for a read.

Come and see my blessing this week. I know I am late in getting here but I came real early and almost no one had posted and then I got very busy but am here now.

storyteller said...

I’m unfamiliar with this author and his ideas but found your discussion of his ‘singularity’ ideas of interest … and may browse my favorite used book store with him in mind on my next visit. I do enjoy some science fiction. Thanks for sharing.
Hugs and blessings,

stev said...

thanks for your feeling motivatedness ^^