Why Is Our Sci-Fi So Glum About A.I.?
When I was 12, I invented a superhero named Boy Genius, a guy my age who awakens one morning with access to 100 percent of his brain power. This allows him to tap into frightening and exhilarating gifts — telekinesis, telepathy, teleportation. Like most superheroes, Boy Genius is both blessed with and plagued by his abilities. The U.S. government becomes aware of his existence, which means he dodges men in black while also fending off middle-school bullies and tormentors.
My inspiration for Boy Genius was the normal superhero recipe, one part pubescent self-pity, one part junk science fiction. The junk sci-fi, in this case, was borrowed from a movie I had recently watched called “The Lawnmower Man.” (The HBO guide alerted me to expect some “BN,” or “Brief Nudity,” somewhere in its 108-minute run time.) It was reprehensibly silly, the sort of movie that even a 12-year-old awaiting a flash of breasts intuits is insulting to his intelligence. And yet at its witless core was an old question I was encountering for the first time: How would human consciousness contend with a software upgrade?
|Submitted :||2nd, October 2014|