Friday, December 05, 2014

Ten top science fiction books about superintelligence

"The idea that humans might one day become superintelligent — or invent a superintelligent computer — is a staple of science fiction," writes Annalee Newitz at io9. "It's also taken seriously by scientists and engineers as a plausible outcome of today's technologies." One of ten key books Newitz says we should read to understand brains of the future:
Excession, by Iain M. Banks

This is one of Banks' early Culture novels, which focuses a lot on the superintelligent Minds that run human culture with sarcastic benevolence. Like the robots in Isaac Asimov's I, Robot collection, who lead humanity into a world of unprecedented peace and prosperity, these Minds allow humans to goof around like idiots while they keep things running. Often implanted in Ships and Orbitals where humans live, these Minds are humanity's caretakers — but they also have their own, incomprehensibly complex business to deal with. In Excession, they discover a subspace anomaly that may be an intrusion from another universe. Only the Minds can fully comprehend such a thing, and even they are out of their depth.
Read about another book on the list.

Iain M. Banks' Culture novels appear on Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten book series so addictive, you never want them to end. Consider Phlebas, the first story in the Culture series, is one of Peter Millar's six favorite satires on despotism.

--Marshal Zeringue