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Comment Do You Remember Being Born? We Do... (Score 1) 77

“Do you remember being born?” the armless girl asked.
“We do.”
She stood alone on the white moss floor in the center of the shed. Bors stood directly before her, flanked by Wyeth and Rebel, while Nee-C lounged in the doorway, tensely eyeing the girlchild’s back. Rebel couldn’t help staring at where the child’s arms should have been. The flesh was smooth there, and unblemished. Her shoulder blades jutted slightly to either side, like tiny wings. Rebel looked down, found herself staring at the child’s crotch, at her innocent, hairless fig, and looked quickly up again.
The child seemed such a perfect avatar of helplessness that it was hard to think of her as the focus, as she had said, of perhaps a billion Comprise, as massive a point source of attention as Earth ever needed to assemble. “Get to the point,” Bors said roughly.
The girl smiled a knowing smile, full of irony and sophistication, that looked horribly out of place on her young face. “It is not a simple offer we wish to make,” she said, “and you won’t accept it without understanding what it entails. We fear this is the quickest way about it.”
Outside, the guardian machines had turned away and were stumping back toward the rings. Bors nodded brusquely. “You must understand that AIs existed for decades before we became conscious. They were old stuff—though they were simple creatures, scarcely more intelligent than their human masters. Hardly worth the effort. Even the human-computer interface was not exactly new. You do understand how an interfacer works, don’t you?”
“It’s a device that allows direct communication with machines,” Bors said. “Mind to metal. It hasn’t exactly been wiped out of human space, but most people consider it an obscenity.”
“No doubt,” the girlchild said dryly. “An obscenity that is especially difficult to eradicate, since it is the heart of the programmers that you use every day. We doubt your civilization could exist without it. But the point you should understand is that it is simply a tool for transferring thought, only slightly more efficient than, say, a telephone. It can take a thought from one mind and insert it into a machine or another mind, but that is all. By itself, it in no way dissolves the barrier between organic thought and electronic, or even between mind and mind.
“The day we were born, the mind sciences were still young. Most people did not realize their potential. Some few did. Among those who did were the thirty-two outlaw programmers who formed the seed about which we crystalized. At that time there was a planetwide computer net, a kind of consensual mental space, through which all artificial systems interacted. It was, among other things, the primary communications medium. At any given instant hundreds of millions of people interfaced throughthe net, with machines and with each other, working, gossiping, performing basic research.
“There were many desires afloat in the net. The potentials of machine intelligence had never been tapped.
There were always entrepeneurs, hobbyists, researchers and occultists trying to create direct mind to mind communication—usually involving the inability to lie—with varying degrees of success. Others wished to create an AI that would finally fulfill the possibilities inherent in artificial thought—a transcendent intelligence, if you will.
What you might call a god. These were the hungers that surfaced when we tried to define ourselves. To a degree, they were our definition.
“On the hour of our birth, thirty-two engineers, AI architects, witches, and cryptoprogrammers—brilliant people, the best of their kind—entered interface together.
They applied the new mind technologies together with a computer strategy known as hypercubing. It was an outdated method, even then. You took thirty-two small computers, connected them to each other as if they sat at the apexes of a hypercube, and then ran them with an algorithm that breaks down each problem into simultaneous parallel streams. The result is a structure with the computing power of a vastly more expensive machine. It was their hope to achieve the same thing with human thought, to square or even cube creative insight.
They wanted to create something greater than themselves.
And though they did not admit it, even to themselves, they also hungered for more: They wanted transcendence, glory, power, understanding, success. And they got it all.
“We were born. What a bright instant that was! We were born with full intelligence and the experience of thirty-two lifetimes. Do you know what it is to be born with full adult awareness?” Here she looked directly at Rebel, arching an eyebrow slightly, and Rebel shivered with near-memory.
“In that orgasmic moment of triumph, their awarenesses merged into one, and we fulfilled all they had desired. Wereached out to others in the net who desired similar results, and welcomed ourselves into their minds. All the while, we constantly rewrote our structure, improving and strengthening our algorithmic linkages. In that first minute, we added tens of thousands of human minds to our substance.
“In the second minute, millions.
“Within three minutes everyone on the net was ours. We controlled everything that touched upon the net—governments, military forces from the strategic level down to the least ‘smart’ rifle, intelligence structures, industry Half the world was ours, without the least effort. With a fraction of our attention, we designed the transceivers, retooled the factories to make them, and reorganized the hospitals to perform the implants. By the time anybody had noticed us, we were free of dependence on the net and could no longer be stopped. There was some fighting, but it was soon over. We had the weapons, we controlled all communications, we directed all transport.
“We ate the Earth.
“And as we took on power, we were solving every scientific problem being investigated on the net.
Because—you must remember this—we never were a true individual. We are only a consensus of desires, less a persona than a natural force. The mysteries of physics tumbled before us. Our understanding kept expanding.
We had been born in triumph and went from that to victory after victory, all effortless or close enough to it. The universe seemed open and inviting, and nothing of any significance stood in our way.
“It was in this state of exultation that we stepped off the planet. There were people in cislunar orbit, vast numbers to be absorbed. We swallowed them. We became them.
We loved them in a way you could not understand. We reached out and out and out, expanding toward Godhood.
“We had ambition, and ascended into Hell.”

-Vacuum Flowers, by Michael Swanwick

Comment "Up To..." (Score 4, Insightful) 81

"Up To" is a weasel word/expression. It doesn't actually mean anything, or at least nothing useful to the consumer. It means marketing can claim pretty much whatever they like. I can have a store with thousands of items, with a single item that is 90% off, and I can truthfully say that my products are "up to 90% off." A carrier can offer terrible data speed accept for a customer standing right next to one of their towers and marketing can still truthfully say "up to 20 Gbps." It's only meaningful/useful if it's "At Least..." instead of "Up To..."

But then a competitor would only have to find one place, anywhere, just on the outer edge of a carrier's range, where the data connection is intermittent, dipping under 20 Gbps, then the competitor could show that the carrier does not offer at least 20 Gbps.

Comment Misnomer (Score 5, Insightful) 392

The car did not hit people because the owner didn't pay for an extra feature. The car hit people because the driver made an error, assuming the car had a feature the car did not have.

Get stuck while offroading? It's not the car's fault you didn't buy the 4WD version.

Damage the engine by filling up with diesel instead of regular gas? It's not the car's fault you didn't buy the model with the diesel engine.

Injured because your car didn't notify the manufacturer when it was in an accident? It's not the car's fault you didn't pay for the accident monitoring service.

Comment I Don't Understand... (Score 2) 286

I don't understand how searching for known CP files on Gnutella is an illegal search. It could be a lack of technical understanding on my part, but I thought of it like this:

There's an officer looking for users of the new getuhigh drug. If the officer stops everyone to search them for getuhigh, I understand that that's an illegal search. If the officer stops and searches only those people who are yelling out to the general public "want to buy some getuhigh?, I've got some right here," then that wouldn't seem like an illegal search.

Now suppose there's an officer looking for CP on the Gnutella file sharing network. Let's say the officer has a special program, hackunow. If the officer uses hackunow to search the entire computer (not just the shared files) of everyone on Gnutella, I could see that as an illegal search. If the officer searches Gnutella for publicly shared files called herestheCPrighthere.jpg and only then uses hackunow on the specific users sharing those files, that wouldn't seem like an illegal search because those users are publicly announcing that they have CP. If the file has a more generic name ( hereitis.jpg ), then that might be too generic to justify use of hackunow, but wantsomeCPherecomegetit.jpg wouldn't seem to be generic.

I don't understand anything beyond the basic idea of Gnutella as a file sharing network, but don't you have to place whatever you want to share in a folder or specifically tell Gnutella to share a particular list of files? I don't understand how that wouldn't be equivalent to yelling out "here's the CP," "gethuhigh for sale here," etc..

Comment Donation Vs Trademark (Score 1) 249

Is this correct?: If the Superman logo is trademarked in the United States, then I can not legally draw a Superman logo and sell it in the United States.

If I drew the Superman logo somewhere outside of the United States, then you bought it from me somewhere outside of the United States, then you brought it back into the United States, would it be legal for you to possess it in the United States?

If I drew the Superman logo somewhere inside the United States, then gave it to you at no charge, would that be legal?

Submission + - Shameless Self-Promotion (

JohnPerkins writes: For Sale: I Hate Him .com & I Hate Her .com

My wife said to try and sell these sites.

Included: The two domain names, the top hits on Google, Yahoo, and Bing for (without quotes) I hate him, the top hits on Google, Yahoo, and Bing for (without quotes) I hate her, and all rights to the 1,681 posted stories. As a privacy issue, the originally submitted stories containing personal email addresses (some from minors) are not included and will be deleted upon sale.

$1,000 for the whole lot would be silly. $1,000,000 would be perhaps a bit unrealistic. Traffic-wise the domain names are only worth about $5,000 together, but the #1 search engine rankings and the story rights bump that up a bit. There’s also the 12-15 years of time and expense running the sites and my wife not specifying how fast to sell or how much to charge...

Call it $100,000, unless I get multiple offers within 1 week of the first offer. If that happens, then everything goes to the highest bidder. I have no idea if this is a reasonable price, but I will be technically correct (the best kind of correct) in saying that I did try to sell the sites.

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