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Oh wow

Okay so this book that I'm reading is really amazing! It's about... There is this intelligence on the Internet that is awakening. An emergent intelligence arising from the Internet apparently from lost packets or something?

Anyway, the main character is a blind girl who has gotten a implant in her eye that corrects her blindness because apparently it's some kind of pupil issue. Like, her pulls aren't responding to light properly and the implant corrects that by intercepting what the eye is getting and changing the format or rearranging something in there before it sends them the information on to the brain. I'm not really sure how I feel about the whole curing blindness issue, but it does serve another function in that the Internet intelligence is eventually able to see the real world through this device.

Another awesome little bit of inclusivity is the fact that this blind girl's best friend at her school is a Muslim girl. Oh yeah, and the scientist that develops the device that helps her see is Japanese.

But of course the real reason that I made this post: Her father is autistic! He's a professor or something at some university and he's on the aspie end of the autism spectrum. There are little clues to that here and there throughout the first dozen chapters but it's like 60% of the way through the book before we get it confirmed, and I actually didn't even suspect until that point because well, she's blind; a lot of his behavior could have been explained by his feelings about that.

I'm actually glad to find out that he's autistic because honestly if they hadn't said that, his behavior would come off as a bit dickish - not so much while she was blind, but more when she starts being able to see. (Like not looking at her even though he can now, on a fairly consistent basis.) But yeah when her mom started beating around the bush about it, that's when the clues started to pile up and I figured it out before they actually said it. I still feel little annoyed with myself for not figuring out sooner.

I also really love the parts that narrate the experiences of the emerging intelligence! One thing that I really like about this intelligence is that Sawyer's writing in this book avoids a lot of the common pitfalls of AI characters in stories. Yes, there are a few anthropomorphic traits – that's kind of unavoidable - but otherwise it's really well done and really kind of alien, yet also relatable. In fact, it kind of somewhat follows her own point of view (which is really well done too, BTW). What I mean is, he paints the picture really well for us.

No that's not right, I don't think I'm explaining it right. I mean yeah, he IS painting the picture really well, but my point was actually something different. Pitfalls. I was talking about avoiding the pitfalls. But yeah my point is that the artificial intelligence in this story is kind of more like a small child or an animal that's slowly coming into consciousness, slowly figuring out things; it's being put into words that make it sound like it's got more figured out than it does, because he's trying to put things into words strut that isn't really IN words in the entity's mind, because the entity doesn't really have language uet; it's pre-verbal because it doesn't have anyone else to talk to yet. But he's doing a really good job of narrating it. You can really feel like like you ARE this intelligence or that you understand it - or maybe that's just me; I always identify with artificial intelligences and always have.

But ultimately this comes back around to the fact that his writing of this artificial intelligence... it's not like the things are normally in sci-fi; this thing has a full range of emotions, especially a sense of wonder and joy. It takes time to figure things out, too - it doesn't just wake up one day completely self-aware. It's like we see it going through the entire evolutionary process of intelligence at a pace measured in weeks or months instead of millions of years, but from its point of view (which we're seeing), it's a slow process. A process that is frequently frustrating to it.

There's also some stuff in here about the "bicameral mind" theory of consciousness. I think I am pretty sure I know how that relates to what's going on, but it hasn't really been made explicit yet.

Anyway this went pretty far off of what I was intending to write about, so I'll just leave it here for now. I'll finish off with saying that it's a really goddamn good book; there's two more of the books in the series and I am gonna read them, too.

Edit: Forgot to give the title! The book title is "WWW: Wake" by Robert J. Sawyer. I'm currently reading book two, which is "WWW: Watch." The third is "WWW: Wonder."

This was cross-posted from https://fayanora.dreamwidth.org/1416785.html
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