WisCon 34 Schedule, or, Gods! Money! Artificial Minds!

I’m going to be attending WisCon this year, and have a fairly interesting schedule — two panels and a talk:

Defining God (Panel; Sunday, 1 – 2:15 PM, Room 634)
Moderator: P. C. Hodgell; F. J. Bergmann, Chibi-Evil, Richard S. Russell, Yonatan Zunger

Atheists are often asked, “What would it take to get you to believe in God?” The stock response is “Well, you’d need to start with a good definition, so I’d know what to look for.” OK, let’s get started. What sort of superpowers does it take to rise to the level of godliness? Would a really smart computer qualify? If you just had a creature who could create a whole universe, but was pathetic in many other respects, wouldn’t that still be pretty godlike?

Economics of the Future (Panel; Sunday, 4 – 5:15 PM, Conference 5)
Moderator: Benjamin Rosenbaum; Fred, Christopher Davis, Gayle, Yonatan Zunger

Science fiction has posited a wide range of economic models, from total abundance to mean scarcity, from plutocracy to collectivism. What happens when goods are freely available to all? What happens when long–lasting food rations are worth killing for? Which books actually talk about economics (whether capitalist or socialist or some other sort) without handwaving it all away?

AI’s: The Current Reality, the Future Possibilities (Talk; Monday, 10 – 11:15 AM, Room 629)

AIs have the possibility of being very interesting from a narrative perspective because they can be a fundamentally different kind of intelligence that nevertheless shares a world with us. The basic evolutionary pressures that drove our brains to work the way they do are completely different from those that would act on them. And indeed, the AIs that we’re starting to see in the real world—from search engines that understand our intentions to cars that drive themselves—look very different from the positronic brains we once imagined. In this talk, Yonatan Zunger will discuss the ways in which AIs are developing today and various possibilities for future directions.

I think this should be a really interesting con; the panels look ripe for spirited, and intelligent, discussion, and the talk should be fun. I guarantee mention of BrainPals and of the religious tendencies of artificial intelligences. Because that’s the real future of AI: theologically-minded brain implants.

ETA: Dates, times and rooms are kinda useful information. Added!

Published in: on May 13, 2010 at 14:26  Comments (12)  
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Con report

Back from my first WisCon. Very tired. Happy.

Saw many friends, made several new ones. It is frustrating that I have suddenly met so many cool people who live far away, because I want to hang out with them more.

Several people suggested that I should look in to being on some panels next time. Will consider.

Asked a question at “Not Another Fscking Race Panel” which led to much hilarity, mostly because it led to a prolonged discussion of the varieties of cybernetic genitalia between and . You really can’t start off a con in a much better way than that.

Got an enormous stack of books, two of which I managed to read on the (long) flight home — Ellen Klages’ The Green Glass Sea and Ekaterina Sedia’s The Alchemy of Stone. I highly recommend both and will try to write actual reviews of them at some point soon.

And now… to bed. Real work is starting unfortunately soon, and there are systems which apparently need to be designed in the morning.

But several key thoughts from this weekend: I’m very glad I have a wife that will come with me to SF cons. I may not be a natural part of fandom, but I do seem to fit in quite well with the writers and the people who come to talk more serious subjects, and there are a lot of such people. I’m amazed by how many interesting people I met, and need to figure out good ways to keep in touch with them. And it’s cool that my job is, pretty much, science fiction.

Published in: on May 25, 2009 at 20:08  Comments (5)  
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