Futuristic Fiction: #Research for #Writers, Part 5, AI.


You’ll find the introduction to this series here.

This post looks at ‘Artificial Intelligence’.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an area still under development and, in common with almost all new technologies, it has an undefined future. This makes it both a dream and a nightmare when it comes to science fiction. Several big names in science and technology, including Bill Gates, Steve Wosniak, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have expressed concerns about the safety of this innovation. It is a subject still very much up for debate.

Arguments include discussions on whether AI can ever outstrip human intelligence: in the current narrow fields of application, there’s evidence it can outperform humans at specific tasks, but, as far as we know (military intelligence is not the most fertile of grounds for disclosure) so far no one has developed a system where control has been entirely surrendered to AI without the possibility of human intervention.

One worry involves autonomous weapons, an area clearly fraught with potential catastrophe. If your story involves such action, it is as well to be up to speed with current thinking in this area.

The major cause of concerns are twofold: that AI might be deliberately programmed to do damage and even to kill, notwithstanding the now questionable Three Laws of Robotics devised by Isaac Asimov. The second concern is that AI might be programmed to do a beneficial task but either poor programming, or the intervention of AI’s own reading of logic and priorities, may result in that task becoming destructive instead in order to achieve the intended final aim.

Other concerns the writer may need to consider are those involved with jobs and employment. It is clear many repetitive tasks, and some very complex engineering, surgical, and construction operations can be achieved more accurately and swiftly by AI. Does this threaten jobs across the different skills sets?

So, will your imagined world be one in which AI is a benefit to humanity, or will it include some threat to our existence? How do you see these scenarios developing? I’ve provided links to a few sources of information, should you need them. Have some fun with the idea. I did in my SciFi trilogy, Generation Mars with its volumes titled ‘Blood Red Dust’, ‘War Over Dust’, and ‘Return to Dust’; that final title dealing with an AI threat.

Part 1, Accommodation and Introduction. Part 2, Activism. Part 3, Advertising. Part 4, Agriculture.

Research examples:
Wikipedia, Future of Life, Built In, Investopedia, ZD net.

24 thoughts on “Futuristic Fiction: #Research for #Writers, Part 5, AI.

  1. After reading your blog, what came to my mind was a Star Trek Next Generation episode where data (A fleet officer robot created in the image of a human) asks Captain Picard why does he never get a chance to command his own ship when lower rating officers with less credentials always get chosen before him. Captain Picard keeps his opinions to himself and gives Data a chance to helm a ship for the first time. What he experienced was a distrust from the crew of the ship because they felt he wouldn’t be able to make a life threatening decision in the interests of save lives.
    It was a very interesting episode. I won’t ruining the ending for you but I can see how the feelings against a Android could exist. AIs are build to make logical decisions to achieve the desired outcome of the code. I can see how one bad coded AI can go rogue just to achieve a harmful outcome to humans. An example of a good fiction movie would be if an AI was coded to search space for any meteoroids that threaten to cross path with earth and cause mass extinction level catastrophes. Once located the AI is deployed to eliminate the threat in space. Keep in mind there is no code that can be coded to indicate what a living, breathing alien and it’s spaceship looks like. After the AI is deployed the alien spaceship makes radio contact with earth. The code can not be bypassed because of a line mistakenly left out, so the AI proceeds to attack the first signs of life we come into contact with. Now there are many ways we can write the outcome to this story. By the way I already started to write it lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Futuristic Fiction: #Research for #Writers, Part 5, AI. – Visterlii

  3. I find that some researchers have a tendency to move forward without thinking about whether they should. I have serious doubts about AI. I think it could easily get out of control, just with the idea of, “oh let’s see if this will work.” Interesting post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, Lynette. Just because we ‘can’ do something, it doesn’t follow that we ‘should’. I tackle this ‘threatening’ aspect of AI in the last book of my Generation Mars series, as I feel it is something humanity needs to watch very carefully. Sometimes, we can be just a little bit too clever for our own good!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. As time progresses, AI will be taken for granted, just the way we take a search for granted now. Want to search for anything, ask Google. Or take the ATM machine for example. A user just uses it to withdraw money. He or she doesn’t care what’s happening behind the scene. Similarly, AI will be a magical black-box where one inputs the requirement and a certain output/actions are returned. Of course, the application of AI is infinite. We are just scratching the surface by inventing ‘cute’ things like robots who serve us or attack-dogs.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. As fascinating as AI is the things that could be accomplished by it are amazing. It could replace manual labor and raise the level of life in general. However, if it is allowed to be unregulated it could be dangerous. It will be fun and challenging for fiction writers to delve into the good, bad, and the ugly of the possibilities.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, Brenda. In common with most scientific/technological discoveries/inventions, AI can be used for good or bad. I think the one aspect of it that most concerns me is the very essence of the idea of ‘intelligence’. Currently, AI is a limited application working in narrow fields. But, with the development of machine learning, which is, of course, based entirely on logic, the potential for a disastrous outcome increases exponentially. Place yourself in the ‘mind’ of a force that works entirely on logic, devoid of any emotion, and then look at the world of the human. Would you see it as that most logical of qualities, ‘efficient’? And, if the answer is ‘no’, what would be your AI solution to that ineffeciency? That’s the question at the heart of the last book in my Generation Mars trilogy.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Stuart,

    Please be informed that the four links corresponding to “Part 1, Accommodation and Introduction. Part 2, Activism. Part 3, Advertising. Part 4, Agriculture” do not work.

    I would like to inform you that at the end of the section titled “Fact-Checking : An Emerging Market Fraught with Issues” in my latest post entitled “Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity”, I have discussed in detail the issues and problems of automations and technologies with respect to expert systems and artificial intelligence as championed in technoutopianism. You are very welcome to review what I discuss there.

    May you have a lovely weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, SoundEagle. The 4 links work for me, and on my wife’s laptop, so I suspect there may be some wierd techno cause for them not working for you. Sorry, I can’t identify an error, and I used the same system for links as I always have here.
      Re your post on your website; thank you for that. I’ll attach a link to it at the end of this comment for others to follow as well. Your posts are not so much ‘blog posts’ as extraordinary research sources for anyone interested in delving deeply into any topic you examine, and this one is no exception. I’m now past the age where reading large chunks from the screen is either easy or advisable, so I’ll have to content myself with dipping into the post at intervals. But thank you for the info. The link is here for anyone who wants to follow it: https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2020/12/19/misquotation-pandemic-and-disinformation-polemic-mind-pollution-by-viral-falsity/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear Stuart,

        To be more specific, all of your weblinks, not just the four that I have already mentioned, do not work in the WordPress Reader, because the “stuartaken dot net” part of each link has become “wordpress dot com” in the Reader. For example:


        My post entitled “Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity” has twelve sections, which can be accessed instantly from the aforementioned navigational menu at the top of the post. The major sections are as follows:

        Introduction : All the World’s a Stage of Misinformation
        Cognitive Biases : A Minefield of Mental Traps for the Unwary
        Infodemic : Media Landscape & Information Ecosystem Pollution
        Hype, Bias, Affect : Appeal to Emotion & Lazy Thinking
        Misquotation & Misinformation : A Gateway to Bad Conduct
        Social Media : Social Amplification & Cultural Tribalism
        Infographic : Escaping Confirmation Bias & Echo Chamber
        Social Fracture : Existential Crisis, Subjectivity & Acculturation
        Fact-Checking : An Emerging Market Fraught with Issues
        Post-Truth : Weaponizing Falsity & Normalizing Duplicity
        Authentication : Quotation and Information Checklist
        Denouement : Democracy, Education, Legislation & Sustainability

        As you can see, the post is academically written and has been considerably extended recently, plus new stylized images that I have designed. Even though it is very long, the navigational menu presented at the top of the post can help you to jump to any of the twelve sections of the post instantly so that you can resume reading from the desired section of the post over multiple sessions in your own time. In addition, hovering your mouse cursor over stylized words will bring up tool tips showing additional information.

        Please take your time to peruse the post and take advantage of the navigational menu to facilitate your reading. Given your background and wisdom, I am very keen and curious to know what you think or make of the post, and thus look forward to your leaving a comment there in good time.

        Happy reading and may you have a lovely week!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah, I never use the WordPress Reader, I always go to the original blog/website and follow links from there. I also note that your comments always have to be ‘approved’ by me, when the rest are passed through straightaway once I’ve approved the first comment made by that user. So, it seems likely that the issue lies with the WordPress Reader rather than the website. Have you tried accessing the website through its URL and then clicking on the links? They seem to work for other users.
          I do have dificulty these days with long texts on screen. In fact, I sometimes print text off to read it from paper. But that becomes very difficult when the post contains multiple online links and internal hyperlinks, so I’m not able to do that with your fascinating posts. As I mentioned before, I’ll only be able to dip in and read short portions as and when I get the opportunity. My eyes are good for many things, but reading from the screen is becoming more difficult for me as the years pass, I’m afraid.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Dear Stuart,

            I have done both through the Reader and URLs. And I have notified Akismet Support at WordPress of the issues about commenting, and am waiting for them to respond and fix the issues.

            As for reading from screen, perhaps copying and pasting the text or post that you want to read into your chosen text reader or software can help.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. As I mentioned, I often copy and paste text to read it on paper, but that becomes very time-consuming if the online text contains links. Reading from any screen, even the Kindle with its function of larger fonts, makes me very tired these days.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Dear Stuart,

                To reduce eye strain, you may consider resorting to what I am about to suggest. Some web browsers can allow you to configure the colour palettes and change the colours of text and background. For example, you can specify that the text be white and the background be black. Some colour configurations can even come as presets that can be readily used.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Thanks for the advice. This has only recently become an issue for me, due to a combination of age and a couple of medical conditions. I’ve tried various text/background combinations, but it makes little difference to the fatigue factor, unfortunately. In fact, some of the combinations were positively painful! I have the font at the optimal size for my viewing, but since most of my ‘staring’ at the screen is reserved for handling and editing my photographic images, I’m left with little time for the extra time taken to read onscreen. Even reading from print on paper takes its toll these days. Just an inevitable result of existing for years, I guess. Still, preferable to the alternative!

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Dear Stuart,

                    Some computer monitors have various settings that you can adjust to suit your eyesight. Also, making sure that no light source(s) is/are causing any reflections on the screen can make a great deal of difference.

                    There is also the option of consulting and optometrist and/or eye specialist.

                    Liked by 1 person

          2. Dear Stuart,

            I have just checked again. When accessed directly from your blog, all of the links work, but in the WordPress Reader, the “stuartaken dot net” part of each link has become “wordpress dot com”.

            Here is my image regarding technoutopianism originated from my post entitled “Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity:

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I suspect this results from the advice given by WordPress on internal links. They suggest that, to avoid the poster receiving a notification everytime an internal link is placed, the person posting removed the first part of the url from the link. They say the link still works, which it does within the post, but it looks as though it removes the ability for Reader users to take advantatge of it, which is a shame! Having spent significant time responding to the notifications in the past, though, SoundEagle, I’m afraid I’ll continue with the practice on my posts.

              Liked by 1 person

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