Brainprint scans are considered the definitive method for identifying egos. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the term “brainwave scan” is a misnomer, as this form of identifier is not based on simple electroencephalography (EEG: a reading of the electrical activity created by neurons firing within the brain). The actual process for recording brainprints for identification purposes goes much deeper than that. It is based on the electrophysiological responses (event-related potentials) to invoked sensory stimuli as well as deep background neural activity measured by magnetoencephalography (MEG) and correlated between different regions of the brain. Controversially, this deep scan of the mind’s default network activity is considered by some philosophers and psychosurgeons as the “true self,” the unique thing that defines us as individual persons.
The process of recording a brainprint takes roughly an hour to systematically map out the core underlying structure and results in an unique identifier for each biological brain. There is one challenge to brainprints, however: they change over time. Transhuman brains are high-plasticity organic devices that incorporate new memories, suffer trauma, build new synaptic structures, and otherwise undergo changes. Luckily, these alterations only impact the core underlying structures identified by the brainprint in slow, incremental measurements. This means brainprints must be updated for accuracy on a roughly yearly basis. In practice, brainprints are usually updated each time a person undergoes a regular backup or uploads for egocasting.
Perhaps the best way to describe the flawed vision of fin de siecle futurists is to say that, with few exceptions, they expected the coming of an ''immaculate'' economy -- one in which people would be largely emancipated from any grubby involvement with the physical world. The future, everyone insisted, would bring an ''information economy'' that would mainly produce intangibles. The good jobs would go to ''symbolic analysts,'' who would push icons around on computer screens; knowledge, rather than traditional resources like oil or land, would become the primary source of wealth and power.
But even in 1996 it should have been obvious that this was silly. First, for all the talk about information, ultimately an economy must serve consumers -- and consumers want tangible goods. The billions of third-world families that finally began to have some purchasing power when the 20th century ended did not want to watch pretty graphics on the Internet. They wanted to live in nice houses, drive cars and eat meat.
Most important of all, the long-ago prophets of the information age seemed to have forgotten basic economics. When something becomes abundant, it also becomes cheap. A world awash in information is one in which information has very little market value. In general, when the economy becomes extremely good at doing something, that activity becomes less, rather than more, important. Late-20th-century America was supremely efficient at growing food; that was why it had hardly any farmers. Late-21st-century America is supremely efficient at processing routine information; that is why traditional white-collar workers have virtually disappeared.
With the hefty biomass created by a marsh, you can then build up land using some of your excavated materials, saved on the surface of the asteroid for this moment. Hills and mountains look great and add texture, so be bold! This process will redirect your water into new hydrologies, and this is the best time to introduce new species, also to export species you no longer want, giving them to newer terraria that might need them.
Thus over time you can transform the interior of your terrarium to any of the 832 identified Terran biomes, or design an Ascension of your own making. (Be warned that many Ascensions fall as flat as bad soufflés. The keys to a successful Ascension are so many that I have had to pen another volume, How to Mix and Match Biomes!, now available.)
Ultimately you will need to make many temperature, landscape, and species adjustments, to get to the kind of stable climax community you want. Any possible landscape is achievable; sometimes the results are simply stunning. Always the entire landscape will be curving up around you, rising on both sides and meeting overhead, so that the look of the land will envelop you like a work of art—a goldsworthy inscribed on the inside of a rock, like a geode or a Fabergé egg.
Obviously it is also possible to make interiors that are all liquid. Some of these aquaria or oceanaria include archipelagoes; others are entirely water, even their walls, which are sometimes refrozen transparently so that in the end when you approach them, they look like diamonds or water droplets floating in space. Some aquaria have no air space in their middles.
As for aviaries, every terrarium and most aquaria are also aviaries, stuffed with birds to their maximum carrying capacity. There are fifty billion birds on Earth, twenty billion on Mars; we in the terraria could outmatch them both combined.
Each terrarium functions as an island park for the animals inside it. Ascensions cause hybridization and ultimately new species. The more traditional biomes conserve species that on Earth are radically endangered or extinct in the wild. Some terraria even look like zoos; more are purely wilderness refugia; and most mix parkland and human spaces in patterned habitat corridors that maximize the life of the biome as a whole. As such, these spaces are already crucial to humanity and the Earth. And there are also the heavily agricultural terraria, farmworlds devoted to producing what has become a very large percentage of the food feeding the people of Earth.
Terminator rolls around Mercury just like its sunwalkers, moving at the speed of the planet’s rotation, gliding over twenty gigantic elevated tracks, which together hold aloft and push west a town quite a bit bigger than Venice. The twenty tracks run around Mercury like a narrow wedding band, keeping near the forty-fifth latitude south, but with wide detours to south and north to avoid the worst of the planet’s long escarpments. The city moves at an average of five kilometers an hour. The sleeves on the underside of the city are fitted over the track at a tolerance so fine that the thermal expansion of the tracks’ austenite stainless steel is always pushing the city west, onto the narrower tracks still in the shade. A little bit of resistance to this movement creates a great deal of the city’s electricity.
The sun is always just about to rise. Mercury rotates so slowly that you can walk fast enough over its rocky surface to stay ahead of the dawn; and so many people do. Many have made this a way of life. They walk roughly westward, staying always ahead of the stupendous day. Some of them hurry from location to location, pausing to look in cracks they earlier inoculated with bioleaching metallophytes, quickly scraping free any accumulated residues of gold or tungsten or uranium. But most of them are out there to catch glimpses of the sun.
Ian Banks: The “Culture” Series, Consider Phlebas, The Use of Weapons, The Player of Games, The State of the Art, Inversions, Excession, Look to Windward, Matter
Greg Bear: Moving Mars, Queen of Angels, Slant
David Brin: Earth, The “Earthclan” series, Startide Rising, The Uplift War, Sundiver
Paul Di Filippo: Ribofunk
Cory Doctorow: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Eastern Standard Tribe
Greg Egan: Axiomatic, Diaspora, Distress, Permutation City, Quarantine
Warren Ellis: Crooked Little Vein
Kathleen Ann Goonan: The “Nanotech Cycle”, Queen City Jazz, Mississippi Blues, Crescent City Rhapsody, Light Music
Peter Hamilton: The “Commonwealth Saga”, Pandora’s Star, Judas Unleashed, The “Greg Mandel Trilogy”, Mindstar Rising, A Quantum Murder, The Nano Flower
James Hogan: Voyage from Yesteryear
Ken Macleod: The “Fall Revolution” series, The Star Fraction, The Stone Canal, The Cassini Division, The Sky Road, Newton’s Wake
Richard Morgan: The “Takeshi Kovacs” series, Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, Woken Furies, Thirteen
Linda Nagata: The Bohr Maker, Deception Well, Limit of Vision, Tech Heaven, Vast
Frederick Pohl: Gateway
Alastair Reynolds: Absolution Gap, Chasm City, The Prefect, Pushing Ice, Redemption Ark, Revelation Space
Kim Stanley Robinson: The “Mars Trilogy”, Red Mars, Blue Mars, Green Mars, The Martians, Karl Schroeder, Ventus
Dan Simmons: Endymion, Fall of Endymion, Llium, “Hyperion Cantos”, Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion, Olympos
Neal Stephenson: Diamond Age
Bruce Sterling: Caryatids, Crystal Express, Holy Fire, Schismatrix Plus
Charles Stross: Accelerando, Glasshouse, Halting State, Iron Sunrise, Singularity Sky, Toast
Karen Traviss: City of Pearl
Vernor Vinge: Across Realtime, A Deepness in The Sky, A Fire Upon The Deep, Rainbow’s End, True Names and Other Dangers
Elisabeth Vonarburg: Slow Engines of Time
Peter Watts: Blindsight, “Rifters’ Trilogy”, Star sh, Maelstrom, Behemoth (ß-Max Seppuku)
Scott Westerfeld: The Risen Empire, The Killing of Worlds
Walter Jon Williams: Aristoi, Angel Station, Voice of the Whirlwind
David Zindell: The Broken God, Neverness, War in Heaven, The Wild
COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS
Jamie Delano: Narcopolis
Warren Ellis: Doktor Sleepless, Doom 2099, Global Frequency, Ministry of Space, Ocean, Transmetropolitan
Jonathan Hickman: Transhuman
Grant Morrison: The Filth, The Invisibles
Masamune Shirow: Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell 1.5: Human-Error Processor, Ghost in the Shell 2: Man/Machine Interface
Adam Warren: Iron Man: Hypervelocity
Makoto Yukimura: Planetes
Ronald Bailey: Liberation Biology
Susan Blackmore: The Meme Machine
Cynthia Brezeal: Designing Sociable Robots
David Brin: The Transparent Society
Richard Brodie: Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme
James Brook and Ian Boal (eds): Resisting the Virtual Life
Rodney Brooks: Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us, Cambrian Intelligence: The Early History of the New AI, Critical Art Ensemble, Digital Resistance, Electronic Civil Disobedience, The Electronic Disturbance, Flesh Machine, The Molecular Invasion, The Marching Plague
Richard Dawkins: The Selfish Gene
K. Eric Drexler: Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology
Freeman Dyson: Disturbing the Universe, Imagined Worlds
Ann Finkbeiner: The Jasons, Imaginary Weapons
Joel Garreau: Radical Evolution
Adam Greenfield: Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing
James Hughes: Citizen Cyborg
Ray Kurzweil: The Singularity is Near
Howard Rheingold: Smart Mobs: The Next Social, Revolution
John Robb: Brave New War
Clay Shirky: Here Comes Everybody
Bruce Sterling: Shaping Things, Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the, Next Fifty Years
Gregory Stock: Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable, Genetic Future
Simon Young: Designer Evolution: A Transhumanist, Manifesto
Blue Planet, Burning Empires, Call of Cthulhu, CthulhuTech, Cybergeneration, Dawning Star, Delta Green, FreeMarket, Gamma World, GURPS: Transhuman Space, Morrow Project, Paranoia, Shadowrun, Shock: Social Science Fiction, Traveller
MOVIES AND TELEVISION
Aeon Flux, AI, Alien series, Andromeda, Babylon 5, Big O, Blade Runner, Cowboy Bebop, Crusade, District 9, Dollhouse, Dreamcatcher, Event Horizon, Ergo Proxy, Fire y, Gattica, Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Solid State Society, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, 2nd Gig, The Island, Jekyll, Moon, Pandorum, Planetes, Serenity, Sleep Dealer, Solaris, Stargate and Stargate: Atlantis, Sunshine, Uzumaki, Zardoz
It has never yet been supposed, that all the facts of nature, and all the means of acquiring precision in the computation and analysis of those facts, and all the connections of objects with each other, and all the possible combinations of ideas, can be exhausted by the human mind. The mere relations of magnitude, the combinations, quantity and extent of this idea alone, form already a system too immense for the mind of man ever to grasp the whole of it; a portion, more vast than that which he may have penetrated, will always remain unknown to him. It has, however, been imagined, that, as man can know a part only of the objects which the nature of his intelligence permits him to investigate, he must at length reach the point at which, the number and complication of those he already knows having absorbed all his powers, farther progress will become absolutely impossible.
But, in proportion as facts are multiplied, man learns to class them, and reduce them to more general facts, at the same time that the instruments and methods for observing them, and registering them with exactness, acquire a new precision: in proportion as relations more multifarious between a greater number of objects are discovered, man continues to reduce them to relations of a wider denomination, to express them with greater simplicity, and to present them in a way which may enable a given strength of mind, with a given quantity of attention, to take in a greater number than before: in proportion as the understanding embraces more complicated combinations, a simple mode of announcing these combinations renders them more easy to be treated. Hence it follows that truths, the discovery of which was accompanied with the most laborious efforts, and which at first could not be comprehended but by men of the severest attention, will after a time be unfolded and proved in methods that are not above the efforts of an ordinary capacity. And thus should the methods that led to new combinations be exhausted, should their applications to questions, still unresolved, demand exertions greater than the time or the powers of the learned can bestow, more general methods, means more simple would soon come to their aid, and open a farther career to genius. The energy, the real extent of the human intellect may remain the same; but the instruments which it can employ will be multiplied and improved; but the language which fixes and determines the ideas will acquire more precision and compass; and it will not be here, as in the science of mechanics, where, to increase the force, we must diminish the velocity; on the contrary, the methods by which genius will arrive at the discovery of new truths, augment at once both the force and the rapidity of its operations.
In a word, these changes being themselves the necessary consequences of additional progress in the knowledge of truths of detail, and the cause which produces a demand for new resources, producing at the same time the means of supplying them, it follows that the actual mass of truths appertaining to the sciences of observation, calculation and experiment, may be perpetually augmented, and that without supposing the faculties of man to possess a force and activity, and a scope of action greater than before.
By applying these general reflections to the different sciences, we might exhibit, respecting each, examples of this progressive improvement, which would remove all possibility of doubt as to the certainty of the further improvement that may be expected. We might indicate particularly in those which prejudice considers as nearest to being exhausted, the marks of an almost certain and early advance. We might illustrate the extent, the precision, the unity which must be added to the system comprehending all human knowledge, by a more general and philosophical application of the science of calculation to the individual branches of which that system is composed. We might shew how favourable to our hopes a more universal instruction would prove, by which a greater number of individuals would acquire the elementary knowledge that might inspire them with a taste for a particular kind of study; and how much these hopes would be further heightened if this application to study were to be rendered still more extensive by a more general ease of circumstances. At present, in the most enlightened countries, scarcely do one in fifty of those whom nature has blessed with talents receive the necessary instruction for the developement of them: how different would be the proportion in the case we are supposing? and of consequence how different the number of men destined to extend the horizon of the sciences?
We might shew how much this equality of instruction, joined to the national equality we have supposed to take place, would accelerate those sciences, the advancement of which depends upon observations repeated in a greater number of instances, and extending over a larger portion of territory; how much benefit would be derived therefrom to mineralogy, botany, zoology, and the doctrine of meteors; in short, how infinite the difference between the feeble means hitherto enjoyed by these sciences, and which yet have led to useful and important truths, and the magnitude of those which man would then have it in his power to employ.
Lastly, we might prove that, from the advantage of being cultivated by a greater number of persons, even the progress of those sciences, in which discoveries are the fruit of individual meditation, would, also, be considerably advanced by means of minuter improvements, not requiring the strength of intellect, necessary for inventions, but that present themselves to the reflection of the least profound understandings.
Our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter. ... Transmutation of the elements, unlimited power, ability to investigate the working of living cells by tracer atoms, the secret of photosynthesis about to be uncovered, these and a host of other results, all in about fifteen short years. It is not too much to expect that our children will know of great periodic famines in the world only as matters of history, will travel effortlessly over the seas and under the and through the air with a minimum of danger and at great speeds, and will experience a life span far longer than ours, as disease yields and man comes to understand what causes him to age.
I always rejoice to hear of your being still employed in experimental researches into nature, and of the success you meet with. The rapid progress true science now makes, occasions my regretting sometimes that I was born so soon: it is impossible to imagine the height to which may be carried, in a thousand years, the power of man over matter; we may perhaps learn to deprive large masses of their gravity, and give them absolute levity for the sake of easy transport. Agriculture may diminish its labour and double its produce; all diseases may by sure means be prevented or cured (not excepting even that of old age), and our lives lengthened at pleasure even beyond the antediluvian standard. Oh! that moral science were in as fair a way of improvement; that men would cease to be wolves to one another; and that human beings would at length learn what they now improperly call humanity!
Born like this
As the chalk faces smile
As Mrs. Death laughs
As the elevators break
As political landscapes dissolve
As the supermarket bag boy holds a college degree
As the oily fish spit out their oily prey
As the sun is masked
Born like this
Into these carefully mad wars
Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
Into bars where people no longer speak to each other
Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
Born into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes
Born into this
Walking and living through this
Dying because of this
Muted because of this
Because of this
Fooled by this
Used by this
Pissed on by this
Made crazy and sick by this
The heart is blackened
The fingers reach for the throat
The fingers reach toward an unresponsive god
The fingers reach for the bottle
We are born into this sorrowful deadliness
We are born into a government 60 years in debt
That soon will be unable to even pay the interest on that debt
And the banks will burn
Money will be useless
There will be open and unpunished murder in the streets
It will be guns and roving mobs
Land will be useless
Food will become a diminishing return
Nuclear power will be taken over by the many
Explosions will continually shake the earth
Radiated robot men will stalk each other
The rich and the chosen will watch from space platforms
Dante’s Inferno will be made to look like a children’s playground
The sun will not be seen and it will always be night
Trees will die
All vegetation will die
Radiated men will eat the flesh of radiated men
The sea will be poisoned
The lakes and rivers will vanish
Rain will be the new gold
The rotting bodies of men and animals will stink in the dark wind
The last few survivors will be overtaken by new and hideous diseases
And the space platforms will be destroyed by attrition
The petering out of supplies
The natural effect of general decay
And there will be the most beautiful silence never heard
Born out of that.
The sun still hidden there
Awaiting the next chapter.