Archive for April, 2011

The future is coming – clones

Posted in Odds, Politics, Religion, Science on April 26, 2011 by The Prince of Pithy

As a writer, I take a step back and observe the world to try to see how all the parts fit together and work. I then take this knowledge and use it to make my stories more realistic. Part of the reason is that I enjoy realistic stories, so that’s what I write. The rest of the reason is I feel humanity needs to start preparing for what the future will bring. Since I write mostly science fiction, I think about aliens, and clones, and AI systems, and while I feel I could deal with these things, I don’t think most people could. But given that several elements of science fiction will most likely become science fact within the next century, the time when we will have to deal with them is fast approaching.

While I’m lying awake or taking a walk, I’ll let my mind wonder over such things as cyborgs and asteroid impacts to try to work up an idea for a story. So I have come up with numerous observations that – I feel – are interesting in themselves, but don’t necessarily lead to a story idea. I’ve often thought I should write these up for my blog. Well, I’m finally getting around to it.


Someday – almost certainly sooner than anyone suspects – a human will be cloned. There will be protests, boycotts, marches, condemnations, congressional hearings, etc., all for this one minor event. I say minor event, and here is why.

The short term issues
The biggest problem clones will face comes from people watching too many bad scifi movies. 99.9% of cloning in the movies is utter crap. In reality, clones will not be mindless automatons who will blindly follow the orders of some megalomaniac out for galactic domination. You will not walk into an alley where someone will jump you, and ten minutes later a clone duplicate will walk out to steal your identity. And clones will not “remember” their donor and do … whatever. A clone will just be another human. If they can escape the mental scaring caused by “parents” or guardians bent on making them into their donors, they will be no more screwed up then the rest of us.

Cloning will – especially at first – be very expensive. That combined with the fact that we already have over six billion humans made the old fashion way, what need is there to create clones? Seriously, what will be the point? Yes, grieving families will want to replace loved ones, and companies will take their money to give them a clone who will have the same DNA as the person they lost, but who will not be them. And yes, some historical figures will be cloned as well as the best and brightest of various fields, but when the Einstein clone takes up, say poetry instead of physics, what will be the point of continuing?

There will be clones, but they will make up a tiny fraction of the population. But a ton of legal and ethical questions will surround them. Will the donor have all the rights and responsibilities of a parent? What rights will they have if they are cloned against their wishes? How far into the cloning process will they be able to abort it? If the donor is Canadian but the cloning is done in the US, will the clone be Canadian or American?

The long term issues
I said that the fictional insta clones that are ready in a few minutes or hours you often see in movies is utter crap. The technology to rapidly grow clones may be possible, but probably not in the first few decades of cloning technology. But the day may come where you could walk into an alley and ten minutes later a clone walks out to steal your identity. That may happen, but since cloning won’t be the only technology that advances, I’d say that it will be far easier for the bad guys to just hack your cybernetic implants and turn you into a puppet.

About the only realistic reason I can see for large scale clone production, will be to download yourself into a younger body. There are two ways I can see this happening. The first is a brain transplant. Now, if the clone has to grow up so the brain will fit, that will probably only work if the clone can be grown without a brain. But if you could make brainless, insta clones, then that may be a viable option. The second way is some sort of electronic transfer. You upload yourself to some electronic format, then download yourself into an undeveloped brain. Of course, if you can transfer your consciousness into an electronic format, why not keep it there in either a virtual world or put it into a mechanical body? As I said, cloning won’t be the only technology that advances.

Basically, humans will be cloned. A great deal of time will be spent demonizing that, but it may just be a fad.


They’re Americans!

Posted in Humor, TV on April 24, 2011 by The Prince of Pithy

I admit I laughed at the end of this scene, but part of me wonders if I should have been offended.

What it’s like inside my head

Posted in Humor, Odds, Politics, Religion, Science, Website, Work, Writing on April 18, 2011 by The Prince of Pithy

Off and on over the years, I’ve wanted to sit down and try to write out my thought processes. I think it would be a great idea to give people a peek inside my skull. Unfortunately, something else usually comes up and I move on to it. But I had an interesting train of thoughts the other day and I figured I should write it up. So here goes.

The other day at work, one of my coworkers and I had a brief conversation. It was brief for two reasons. One, it was the end of the day and I wanted to leave, and two, I could tell we had a difference of opinion and talking about it right there wouldn’t change that. Basically, he made a statement about a program that I agreed with, in part. I would say the program failed one out of a hundred times, but he seemed to think it was more like ninety out of a hundred times. Therefore, we drew different conclusions about the effectiveness of this program, but neither one of us had the hard facts to confirm our point. So I just said, “See ya,” and left for the day.

I went to the local coffee shop, bought a cup of Earl Grey and a cookie, and sat with my writing notebook. There were a few things I needed to work on, so I tried to organize my thoughts, but I didn’t have much success. Instead, I just started jotting down any odd thing I could think of. For example, the first note I made was, “The rich will have robotic butlers.” This came from a couple days earlier when I thought of how years ago the rich had butlers, and housekeepers, and gardeners, and cooks to maintain their house. Of course now, the not so rich can still have maids, and landscapers, and they can have their food delivered to them. And while the not so rich can have a robotic vacuum cleaner, in a decade or two, the rich may well have android butlers. At first, they’ll be the only ones who can afford them. And I just wondered what societal changes will come of that. It’s an interesting idea, but I couldn’t really focus on it, so I moved on to other things.

The next thing I glanced at was trying to come up with some article ideas for my King of Prussia Writing Examiner column. Perhaps the android butlers carried over, but I remembered how one of the first stories I posted on my Ficly profile to get notice was “Death by Sexbot.” I believe at the time I wanted to write a blog post about how just putting sexbot in your title gets attention. Titles that increase traffic, that could work as an article. Of course, I’m not entirely sure how would take an article where I mention sexbots. There would be no graphic details, but some places can be a little tricky with their morality.

I then wrote down several things I needed to do, and comment how I had too many ideas in my head. That would be a great idea for a story, except I’ve already written several: “Curse,” “Cursed,” “Do I Have an Idea for You,” “Not Another One,” “Overwhelmed,” and “So Little Time.”

After a few more scribbled notes, I set my pen down and just stared out the window at the early spring afternoon. Eventually, my train of thought came back to my coworker. If the two of us spent the time to fully explore the details of the program, I’m sure we could agree on the truth, whether it was closer to what he believe, or what I believed, or as is most likely, somewhere in between. While I’m sure that is true with him, it’s not true with other people. Almost jokingly, I wrote “Reality” on one side of the page and “Most people” on the other side. I even came up with a quote, “You are a part of reality, even if you don’t accept it.”

As I sat smiling at my wit, a guy at the next table said something about a cell phone. At the mention of this device people can’t live without that makes them all interconnected, the recurring thought of humanity developing into a hive mind returned to me. And I wondered if the differences of opinion people have would be washed out in the hive mind. But then I realized that if you look at the internet, almost the opposite has happened. So I wondered if instead of one hive mind, there would be many. As a basic example, a Democratic Hive Mind vs. a Republican Hive Mind. Of course, not everyone will automatically join a hive mind, which will slowly grow as they absorb individuals. And I wondered if enough radical individuals joined a hive mind, could they swing the consensus view of it? Would that just be politics as usual, or a form of terrorism? All the while I wondered what story I could make of this.

At this point, I had finished my tea and was starting to give myself a headache. So I closed my notebook, and went to buy some groceries. But that’s a brief overview of about an hour inside my head.

The Holy Gospel of the Easter Rabbit

Posted in Humor, Religion on April 18, 2011 by The Prince of Pithy

Title reaction

Posted in Books, Writing on April 16, 2011 by oneoveralpha

I’m working on a story collection, but I’ve had a hard time coming up with a title. The working title is The Future is Strange, and I’m wondering what you’re knee-jerk reaction would be to a book with that title. Just leave a quick comment. In a month or so I’ll write up why I’m leaning towards that title, and see what you think about it then.

Big day

Posted in Spaceflight on April 12, 2011 by The Prince of Pithy

April 12 is a big day. In 1861, Confederate forces began firing upon Fort Sumter. In 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. And in 1981, the Space Shuttle Columbia launched for the first time.

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of Gagarin’s flight, there is First Orbit, a “real time recreation of Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering first orbit, shot entirely in space from on board the International Space Station.” I haven’t had the time to watch it, but I plan to.