Monday, February 07, 2011

Superhuman Imagination - Vernor Vinge

"Vinge: I think science fiction can have all the power of conventional literature, but with the added potential for providing us with vivid, emotionally grounded insights into the future and into alternative scenarios. Speaking grandiosely, science fiction might be taken as having the role for humanity that sleep dreaming has for the individual. Sleep dreams are mostly nonsense, but sometimes we wake up with the stark realization that we have underestimated a possibility or a goodness or a threat.

Reason: Who are the most inspiring writers you’ve been reading lately?

Vinge: In connection with these topics, David Brin, Greg Egan, Karl Schroeder, Bruce Sterling, Charles Stross —and I fear I am missing others. In nonfiction, Ray Kurzweil and Hans Moravec. Hans is awesome, a more radical explorer than just about any science fiction writer.

Reason: You dedicate Rainbows End “to the Internet-based cognitive tools that are changing our lives—Wikipedia, Google, eBay, and the others of their kind, now and in the future.” What’s the story behind this dedication?

Vinge: I regard the current Internet as a test bed for the cognitive coordination of people and databases and computers. Tools such as Google, eBay, and Wikipedia are—I hope—harbingers of much more spectacular developments."

4 out of 5