Category: Artificial Intelligence

79th World Science Fiction Convention (Discon III)

79th World Science Fiction Convention DC 2021

The 79th World Science Fiction Convention (Discon III) is being held in DC in three days, running from 12/14/2021 through 12/19/2021. They had a long struggle deciding between real & virtual. They settled on real but with lots of virtual bits. I’m just pleased they decided to go forward. Full schedule is now online. Note the web page is a bit fragile & needs sometimes a bit of coaxing.

I’m giving two short talks and serving as panelist on three panels. Because of space problems, many of the talks are sharing an hour. Both my talks are 25 minutes:

Artificial Intelligence: Past, Present, and Futures

From neural nets and genetic algorithms to facial recognition and deep fakes, artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere today. What exactly do we mean by AI? How did AI get where it is today? What role will it play in our lives? What are the benefits and risks of AI? And when will we have real AI?

7PM Thursday December 16th, 2021. This is the top of the hour so should start at 7PM. Slides up on slideshare.

The Quantum Internet:  Hype or the Next Step?

What do we mean by the quantum internet? Why do we need more than just quantum computing? What are quantum cryptography, quantum key distribution, quantum sensors? How are these concepts entangled? What are the advantages of the quantum internet? key problems? Who will get to use it? And do we have just a bunch of interesting technologies that all have quantum in their name or can the whole be more than the sum of its parts?

10AM Sunday December 19th, 2021. This is the 2nd half of the hour so will probably start about 10:25AM. Slides up on slideshare.

And I’m doing three panels (all 50 minutes):

The State of Machine Learning

An artificial intelligence does not necessarily have to think like a human being. How do current AIs approach questions of cognition and meaningful analysis? What are other ways that an intelligent AI might perceive and understand the world?

Notes for participants: Examples. AI as a personal assistant, AI as a social benefit, AI as a threat, making sense of big data, autonomous vehicles, neural networks, automated facial recognition, behavioral analysis, racial bias in training data. The term xenosapience is used in some sf non AIs that do not think like people.

4PM Wednesday December 15th, 2021. Virtual

Balancing Story and Scientific Authenticity

Many readers love real science, or just the appearance of real science, in their science fiction. It is no small challenge to create compelling literature that also triggers a scientific sense of wonder. Panelists discuss how to do it right.

I’m moderating this & much looking forward to it. I have a lot of questions for the panelists:

  • How can getting the science right make the story better?
  • What are some of the best examples of getting the science right? Hal Clement — Mission of Gravity, Uncommon Sense, … — comes to mind of course, many others.
  • How to give readers the right amount of explanation? Obviously we want a bit more scientific detail in The Martian than in Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids! My own feeling is that Arthur Clarke was the all-time master of balancing science & wonder. Your selections for this?
  • What are some examples where the science was just so awful that it interfered with the story? Or the story died the death of painful exposition? (Venus Equilateral comes to mind; feel free to disagree of course!)
  • What are some of your own stories where you think, all modesty aside, that you got the science just about right! And what were some places where you had to do a bit of work to achieve the best balance?
  • What advice would you give a new writer on how to handle the science?
  • What advice would you give a reader on what to look for in a story’s treatment of science?
  • What differences are there in way you would handle different sciences? we often break the sciences down into soft and hard, is that valid?
  • How to handle alien sciences?
  • How do you like to prep the science?

11:30AM Thursday, December 16th, 2021. Virtual

International Space Program

Americans may not hear much about it, but there’s a thriving culture of space exploration and science outside of the United States. Come hear about some of the notable missions, developments, and discoveries of 2020 and 2021.

8:30PM Thursday, December 16th, 2021. Physical (Diplomat Ballroom)

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