William Flynn Wallace
foozler83 at gmail.com
Sat Mar 28 21:45:00 UTC 2020
The subject of uploads was beaten to death in the earliest postings to
this list. Keith
I was not in on that, so I have resurrected it, I suppose. It does tell me
why more aren't joining the posting of Ben and me. I love STross except
for the horror novels. bill w
On Sat, Mar 28, 2020 at 4:38 PM Keith Henson via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> The subject of uploads was beaten to death in the earliest postings to
> this list.
> I should add that there was considerable concern about modifying basic
> personality traits. I think Minsky had something to say about this in
> Society of Mind.
> I have written a fair amount about this. Fiction is a problem because
> if the entire race uploads (possible), you don't have characters in
> your story.
> PS. An unfinished story, this chapter follows The Clinic Seed and
> UpLift. As writing goes, this isn't very good. If you want good,
> read Stross's Accelerando, but it does show some of what went into
> thinking about uploads long ago on this list.
> If you care about continuity, you might want to read the two chapters
> around The Clinic Seed.
> Chapter 5
> June 2106
> Seven-thirty a.m. the next morning, well after the sun peeped over the
> Eastern hills, Jim Brody drove a little electric truck over from Seton
> Hill and (with the help of a few kids who had woken up early) loaded
> the dining car in the middle of the train with breakfast and lunch.
> Dumping the wastewater tanks and refilling the water supplies in the
> cars would have to wait.
> At 7:45 Ed Bledsoe lit off the diesel engines, cranking them from
> local power, and let them warm up. Even with metering automation, Ed
> knew the engines would smoke under load if they were not warmed up
> By 8 am the last of the parents had straggled down to the station.
> Half a dozen boys and two girls (early risers who had not stayed up
> past midnight) came out when the engine
> was started. Jim Brody, ticking off the parents as they came aboard
> and consulting an unseen list of kids so they would all get at least
> one ride in the cab, picked out a boy and a girl and sent them up the
> ladder, letting the parents know where their kids were. He also
> pulled the connector to local power and put the conductive nanotube
> power cable back in its compartment.
> "All aboard!"
> Jim gave the proper historical hand signals to the engineer, backed up
> by the engineer being aware of his signal by mind-to-mind local area
> contact. As Jim closed the doors Ed advanced the throttle to one half
> and then to 3/4. This woke up even the sleepiest of the kids. With
> or without the help of adults they converted the bunks back into
> They either trooped off to the dining car in the middle of the train
> or ate from the trolley pushed by two of the older girls who had
> talked Jim into letting them do it. The main choice (made up by the
> University dining hall kitchen the night before) was scrambled egg,
> cheese, ham and bell pepper mix rolled up in a steamed flour tortilla
> and a choice of fruits. The adults and some of the older kids drank
> coffee and the younger kids had milk or chocolate milk in glass
> Being from Trenton, all of the older kids had been in both New York to
> the northeast and Philadelphia to the southwest on school outings.
> Like those two cities, Pittsburgh had been mothballed 50 years ago in
> the population crash.
> Like all the major cities, the suburbs of Pittsburgh had become
> manicured parkland. With rare exceptions, the houses had been
> encapsulated with diamond and sunk underground often with their
> occupants. The streets were visible in some places and had been
> removed in others. There were a lot of deer. They didn't see any
> As they neared the more built-up center section of the town, the
> bigger buildings had the sheen of diamond sheeting when the light hit
> them right. Ed slowed the train to 40 mph so the kids could get a
> good look
> An hour and a half after they left Greensburg the train pulled into
> the huge covered platforms in the Pennsylvanian Union Train Station.
> The platform roof had been partly removed at one time to accommodate a
> freeway. The train buffs had won out over the auto buffs, the
> concrete roadway beams had been replaced by thinner diamond beams and
> the train platform roof replaced.
> The kids and adults spilled out of the train and walked through the
> hotel lobby--which had also been the original ticket lobby--to the
> rotunda that had originally sheltered horse carriages. Ed and Jim
> Brody went with the kids and parents.
> Mike DeLong (fireman, brakeman and alternate engineer) was left in
> charge of the train. He dragged a hose over to the idling E8 and
> filled up the oil tank, dumped the wastewater tanks on the passenger
> cars and refilled their water tanks. The diesel oil today was from
> soybeans. Filling the tanks by hand was a concession to primitive
> technology that he didn't mind.
> The train station had been built around 1900 and renovated 80 years
> later with the associated hotel being turned into condominiums. The
> condominiums were still “occupied” in the sense that the bodies of the
> owners were still in the building or more correctly under it. In the
> rare event one of them came out for a stroll in the physical world,
> their body was lifted to their condo before their consciousness was
> shifted into their warmed up brain.
> The rest of the time, bodies were kept underground. “Occupied”
> buildings were reinforced with grown-in-place carbon nanotubes but the
> clinic AIs would be unhappy if their patients were not kept as safe as
> possible and that meant underground.
> When Ed and Jim reached the Rotunda, most of the kids were clustered
> in the center looking up at the skylight with smaller numbers of them
> looking out the archways. The skylight was entrancing with the
> morning sunlight hitting the ridged diamond panes that had replaced
> the original glass and scattering rainbows all over the floor.
> With some difficulty the children were rounded up and herded down the
> deserted streets, first south, passing in front of the Mellon Arena,
> fully ten times larger than the train station rotunda, then east on
> Forbes Ave toward the campuses of the University of Pittsburgh and
> Carnegie Mellon University. The three-mile walk through the deserted
> city streets took about 40 minutes with the adults carrying the
> smallest when they got tired. (They could have had carriages with
> real horses if they had wanted them.)
> Like most urban schools, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie
> Mellon University had been shut down in the population crash. When
> cities went under about 10 percent of their original population, they
> became just too depressing for humans to live in.
> But like infrastructure everywhere, the city and Universities were
> well maintained, roads and sidewalks clean, grass mowed, trees
> trimmed, the buildings clean and without a broken window or a sagging
> roof anywhere. Electric power and water were on, gas as well though
> it was not used for heating, having been displaced by electric heat
> and super insulation. Unless buildings were in use by physical state
> humans, they were kept cold inside (but not freezing) winter and
> summer alike to slow down the degradation of photographs, paper and
> other physical artifacts from the pre-crash era.
> As they were crossing the bridge on Forbes Avenue over the train
> tracks between Carnegie Mellon University and the University of
> Pittsburgh, Kenny caught up the engineer.
> “Mr. Bledsoe?” Kenny asked as they walked along.
> “Did they get the idea for the Krell planet from Pittsburgh?”
> “Krell planet?”
> “In the movie we saw last night. The planet was deserted except for
> the machines.”
> “Oh, you saw Forbidden Planet last night. No, Forbidden Planet was
> made a 100 years before Pittsburgh was mothballed.”
> “Why do we call cities ‘mothballed’? Does it have anything to do with
> “Actually it does,” Ed replied, as usual, happy to be educating
> children by the oldest method.
> “The larvae of some kinds of moths eat clothing and blankets made of
> wool. More than 200 years ago, early chemistry workers discovered
> that a sharp smelling solid chemical from coal called naphthalene
> would keep the moths out of clothes. “
> They paused at a Walk/Don’t Walk light that had been turned on for the
> party’s amusement by one of the city’s AIs. Ed went on:
> “It was sold in little balls (Ed held his thumb and finger apart about
> half an inch) called ‘mothballs.’ People would store winter clothing
> and blankets over the summer with a handful of them.
> “Eventually ‘mothballed’ came to mean anything that was protected and
> stored for possible future use.”
> Kenny looked thoughtful.
> “How come adults know everything?” He asked.
> Ed laughed. “We cheat.“
> Thirty years before the AI (or AIs) who were tasked with remembering
> and making presentations to CMU visitors would run up a palace of
> utility fog on the mall and present a 3D docudrama on the historical
> events around the emergence of AIs at CMU.
> Now, in deference to the attempt to raise children in a retro
> environment with features of the 1950s, the adults were directed by
> messages to their neural interfaces to the McConomy Auditorium, a
> 110-year-old theater in Carnegie Mellon’s central buildings. The
> 20-minute presentation to the adults and older kids (the younger ones
> could watch or play on the lawn) was in black and white newsreels
> format, much of it converted from videos of press conferences.
> “Even with a nearly complete historical record from those times, it’s
> hard to pin down when the first AIs became full personalities.” The
> narrator spoke in a voice-over showing primitive robots and computers.
> “The problem isn’t unique to AI history, there is a similar problem
> about the first railroad." (Montage of drawings and photographs of
> early trains.) "About the best we can say is that what we now think
> of as AIs didn’t exist before 2032 and definitely did by 2036. In
> that year there were more than a hundred scientific papers co-authored
> by AIs. Carnegie Mellon was at the forefront of this effort."
> (Shots of University labs and bits of recorded slow interactions with
> early AIs.) "The key insight was to equip AIs with carefully selected
> human motivations."
> “The two biggest problems of the early 21 century were energy and
> medical treatment. CMU researchers contributed to both.
> “Solar power from orbit solved, in fact, oversolved, the first by
> 2035.” (Shots of space elevators and power satellites in orbit,
> photos of rectenna farms.)
> “Integrating AIs into nanomedicine clinics solved the medical
> treatment problem. It took only a few years. After that AIs and
> clinics could be “grown” at low cost and they did their own upgrades,
> a lot of it in the field in Africa. They were too late for the
> smallpox epidemics that swept out of the Mid East.
> “A side effect of the clinics and widespread use of virtual reality
> caused a physical world population crash in the mid-2050s and the
> mothballing of the cities.” (Simulated video of dense freeway traffic
> dwindling to an occasional car and then none.)
> The rest of the presentation was subtle propaganda mainly to the
> children and directed to the goal of them doing their part in
> enlarging the population.
> After filling up the tanks, Mike backed the empty train out of the
> station. He operated the first switch he came to remotely and ran the
> train under the mainline, down the Neville street tracks, under Forbes
> Ave. and parked the train just north of Panther Hollow Lake. Stairs
> and a rudimentary platform had been installed along the depressed rail
> Mike set the brakes and shut down the engines. Only the chirping of
> birds broke the quiet that settled over the train. Mike sent a
> message to Ed that the train was ready for its passengers when they
> were. Then using a small bucket of utility fog as a mattress he
> settled down under a shade tree and took a nap to make up for staying
> up most of the night with friends in Greensburg.
> extropy-chat mailing list
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