Tag Archives: AI

Proof of concept – Innerscape

Forgive the grandiose title, but I’ve just read an article on Medium that details the current research aimed at creating a computer-brain interface. And that concept, taken to an extreme level, is precisely what Innerscape is all about.

I’ve known about some of the technologies for some time, but I was truly surprised by how much, and how varied, those technologies are. Some are clearly still in their infancy, but I see great potential for others…including football fans. 🙂

No, I’m not kidding. The article below contains a video about a very special ‘kickoff’. The person doing the kickoff [first kick of the game] is wearing an exoskeleton, and he’s paralyzed. He’s moving the exoskeleton with his brain. That is little short of a miracle.

You can watch a video of that kickoff, and read about the other technologies in development here: https://medium.com/predict/brain-computer-interfaces-the-next-step-in-human-evolution-a0e0723a1791

One thing I very much like about the article is that it talks openly about the elephant in the room – the ethics of some of these technologies. We humans have a habit of jumping into new tech feet first, so enamoured of the potential for good [or profit] that we wilfully ignore the potential for harm. And there is always potential for harm.

It’s Good Friday here in Australia so I’ll wish you all a Safe and Happy Easter if you celebrate it. If not, may you have a Safe and Happy Holiday.

Much love,
Meeks


My Favourite Bits…in Miira [3]

First and foremost, Miira is now free on Amazon for five days from January 19 to January 23, 2021! You should be able to find Miira on your local Amazon. For those in the US, the link to Amazon.com is below:

https://www.amazon.com/Miira-book-1-Innerscape-acflory-ebook/dp/B076GYZBKQ/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3BP2AQJ9TQLLQ&dchild=1&keywords=miira&qid=1611045851&sprefix=Miira%2Caps%2C445&sr=8-2

And in case you’re still wondering whether you should add yet another book to your bulging TBR list, here is my last ‘favourite bit’ from Miira. This scene is shorter than the previous one, but not by that much, so apologies again!

Before you read the excerpt, you will need a little bit of context about the ‘suit’. It isn’t a jacket, vest and pants! Gaming in 2101 involves the use of full body ‘suits’ that contain sensors which help create a biofeedback system for the wearer. For example, if the Gamer stubs his toe, he/she will feel the bump.

The Teslasuit, shown on the left, is almost available already, but by the start of the next century, the best quality suits will have so many sensors embedded in the material that the Gamer is fooled into thinking he/she is experiencing the real thing. The top of the range ‘suit’ is the RT69 by Real Touch.

Read on:

—*—*—*—

The rat-tat-tat of someone knocking on the door woke Lennie from a nap, and he started awake, heart pounding. Wha’ th’ fuck?

Nobody ever visited him at home. He made sure of that by keeping the address of his flea bitten kennel a close secret.

Rolling off the mattress, he grabbed the small table next to his bed and hauled himself upright as he tried to shake off the alcoholic fog that still clouded his thoughts. The only person who knew where he lived was the local pizza guy, but he had not ordered pizza. At least, he could not remember ordering pizza…

Gotta lay off the sauce a bit, he thought as he shambled towards the door, one hand scratching his crotch, the other rubbing the stubble on his chin.

When was the last time he’d shaved?

Lennie could not remember, but was not overly concerned. Life had been a very pleasant blur since the money came through, and he was not about to look a gift horse in the arse-

Bang, bang, bang.

“Okay, okay!” he cried. “I’m coming!”

Alcoholic fog notwithstanding, Lennie retained enough sense to check the view port before unlocking the door.

A woman wearing the bright red uniform of a courier stood outside, one hand raised to knock again. She would have been quite attractive had the red of her hair not clashed so badly with the red of her uniform.

She should dye it, Lennie thought as his eye dropped down to the woman’s other hand. It was holding the handle of a bright yellow trolley. On the trolley was a very big package with Real Touch written on it in electric purple lettering.

My suit! Lennie thought in delight as he quickly unlocked the deadbolt and the two padlocks securing his door. It was a cheap neighbourhood. It paid to be cautious.

“Lennie Huffnagel?” the woman asked.
“Yup, that’s me.”
“Authentication please.”

As Lennie bent to press his thumb into the tablet held out to him, a whiff of his own body odour made him wince. He would have to have a shower before he tried out the suit. Bugger.

“Where do you want it?” the woman asked.

“Um, just sort of in the middle,” Lennie said, suddenly very conscious of the piles of dirty dishes, and even dirtier clothing, that covered almost every available surface. “Hang on, I’ll clear a space.”

“It’s okay,” the woman said with a quick grin. “My brother’s room is just the same.”

Matching action to words, she set the trolley down in the middle of the room and began feeding the dirty dishes into the recycler.

Lennie gave her a quizzical look but did his part by throwing the dirty clothes into a pile by the wall. Soon, an empty rectangle of floor beckoned to be filled.

Spinning the trolley around with a quick flick of her wrists, the woman deposited the box in the middle of the newly cleared space and stood back to admire her handiwork.

“Got a cutter?” she asked.

“It’s okay,” Lennie said, suddenly a little uncomfortable. “I can manage.”

“Oh,” the woman said, her animated expression drooping into disappointment. “Sorry. It’s just…I’m a gamer too, ya know? I saw the label and I was kinda hoping I could get to see the RT69 for myself…”

“You play?” Lennie asked, unease forgotten. “Whadya play?”
“Mega Dome,” the woman said with a slight blush.
“Nice,” Lennie replied, working hard to keep a condescending smirk off his face.

Mega Dome was billed as a full contact martial arts game, but in reality it was just a fancy dating venue with a bit of slap slap thrown in to get people in the mood. He’d played it himself, before the agency picked him up and introduced him to real gaming. Still, the Ranga* knew enough to recognize a top of the range suit when she saw one.

Lennie gave the courier a quick but very professional appraisal as she stood in the middle of the room, clearly hoping to stay. She was not his type, far too fem with a small nose, small mouth and huge green eyes, but it would be fun to share the moment with someone who knew how awesome the suit really was.

“I’ll get the cutter,” he said.

The woman’s face lit up with pleasure, and Lennie suddenly felt quite warm towards her. If she played her cards right he might just give her a bit of slap slap himself.

My good deed for the day, he thought with a quiet chuckle as he ferreted around in the tiny food preparation area for the cutter.

When the woman finally left an hour later, Lennie lay on the mattress, his brand new suit fully connected and a look of terminal surprise on his face.

So why is this one of my favourite scenes? It’s because I’m fiercely protective of those I love, and I love Jaimie Watson, the only 18 year old Resident in Innerscape. Lennie Huffnagel betrayed Jaimie for money, so killing him off with his own ill gotten gains is poetic justice in my book. But I also love the colour red and characters with depth, so don’t expect the Woman in Red to be a simple anything. 🙂

A word of warning: I don’t write erotica or anything even approaching it, but I don’t pull any punches about ‘body functions’, so an earlier scene with Lennie may shock some people. Apologies in advance, but those scenes highlight the chasm that exists between the lives of the super rich, and those like Lennie who survive by exploiting them. Contrast is the key to everything.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing ‘Miira’ through my eyes. If you want to read the whole story, Miira, book 1 of Innerscape, is now free on Amazon until January 23, 2021.

-hugs-
Meeks


My Favourite bits…in Miira [2]

I was going to introduce you to the Innerscape assassin today, but I decided that post would work better tomorrow, when the book is actually free. For now, I’m going to show you my favourite bit of ‘tech’ in the book. It’s a bit gruesome but there is a happy ending. 🙂

So here, without further ado, is the final stage of Miira Tahn’s physical induction into the virtual world of Innerscape:

Exactly one week after entering Innerscape, Miira Tahn was ready for the most delicate and invasive part of the whole Induction process – the creation of the neural network that would link her to her new, digital home.

Before that could happen, however, her entire skull would have to be removed, including all the soft tissue of her face. Only then could her naked brain be encased in the bath of proprietary biofluids that would lead to full transition.

In keeping with the morbid humour that had named the containment modules the Catacombs, most of the medical staff referred to the biofluid as the ‘embalming fluid’, but that was a misnomer. In reality, the biofluid was seeded with self-replicating nanoparticles that would not only preserve the brain, they would invade it.

The centres for sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, gross and fine motor skills, and the finer senses like spatial awareness, all would be invaded. Some of the nanoparticles would even make their way to the amygdala because the ability to fear was an integral part of being human.

As the nanoparticles grew, they would self-organize into a network of artificial neural pathways which would interface between Miira’s organic brain and the electronic ‘brain’ of the Innerscape AIs.
Once that interface was complete, she would experience the most minute digital feedback as if it came from the real world, and in a very real sense, she would owe it all to Kenneth Wu.

Back when Innerscape first began, the neural interface had been little more than a net of microscopic sensors surgically implanted inside the skull of each Patient. The neural interface allowed them to enjoy a better quality of life than they would have done on the outside, but the experience had been less than perfect.

It had been Kenneth Wu’s idea to remove the skull completely, and it had been his ground-breaking work in nanotechnology that had been instrumental in the creation of the AI-neural interface Innerscape now used. No one alive knew more about Stage 3 of the process than he did, and even Charles McGragh deferred to him in this area.

“The team is ready to begin Stage 3, Dr. Wu,” Charles said evenly.
“My instruments are ready to begin as well,” the surgical AI added.

Kenneth Wu looked up at the image of Miira in his faceplate, but superimposed over that image was the memory of her frightened brown eyes staring up at him as the anaesthetic took effect. She had been scared, very scared, but her last look had held nothing but trust. She trusted him. He would not let her down.

“Begin.”
“Sealing external carotid arteries now,” the AI said as its tools cut through the skin with lightning speed. “External carotid arteries sealed. Initiating removal of skin.”

Even before the AI finished speaking, a fine mist began to form around Miira’s features. As the seconds ticked by it became progressively thicker until her whole head seemed to be encased in a swirling ball of white.

As Kenneth and the rest of the team watched, the mist gradually changed colour from white to a dirty pink.
When the mist was sucked away a few minutes later, all the soft tissue of Miira’s face was gone, leaving her head looking like a halloween mask. Her eye sockets gaped empty, her nose was gone, and her jaw sagged open, exposing the emptiness where her tongue had been.

“Phase 2 of Stage 3 complete,” the AI said. “Commencing removal of skull.”

Once again, a ball of liquid nanoparticles encased Miira’s head, but this time their function was to eat away at the bone protecting her brain. Bone was much denser than muscle and cartilage, and the process took a full 30 minutes. At the end of that time, the ball of liquid bore a rather disturbing resemblance to oatmeal porridge.

As the team watched, one of the tools hovering outside the ball released three drops of pale blue liquid onto the surface.
The outside of the ball quickly began to look more like dirty concrete than porridge. A few minutes later still, the concrete hardened and began to crack.

As the process accelerated, the cracks turned into shards, and the shards turned into even smaller fragments that lifted from the surface, and were drawn away like iron filings captured by a magnet. Once the hard crust was removed, the ball of liquid held in place by electromagnetic currents was perfectly clear once more. And nestled in the centre of it was Miira’s brain.

“Phase 3 of Stage 3 complete,” said the emotionless voice of the AI. “Commencing diagnostics.”

This was the moment at which Kenneth always held his breath. A great deal of computing power had gone into calculating the composition and number of nanoparticles to use, but there was always a slight element of uncertainty. If even a thin layer of unwanted cells remained around the patient’s brain, the embalming fluid would not work properly, and the team would have to take remedial action.

It could be done, but the results were not always optimal. The patients often suffered some small damage to the outer surface of the brain, or to one of the exposed blood vessels…

“Results are optimal,” the AI said.

Kenneth did not cheer like the rest of the team, but he did exhale on a very relieved sigh.

“Preparing to initiate Phase 4.”

This time, the AI inserted an array of needles into the ball of liquid cradling Miira’s brain. Each hollow needle was finer than a human hair, and dripped a measured dose of embalming fluid into the liquid. Over the next two days, the nanoparticles in the embalming fluid would grow to fill the entire ball.

Once that happened, the semi-solid surface of the ball would be sprayed with a different cocktail of nanoparticles which would grow into the interface connecting Miira’s mind to the digital world that awaited her.

“Phase 4 completed successfully.”

Now all we can do is wait, Kenneth thought with a familiar thrill of excitement mixed with trepidation. If he had done his job properly, the next time he saw Miira, it would be in Innerscape.


Anyone who’s followed my blog for any length of time will know that I love tech, and the life sciences, so I’m sure you’re not surprised by the technical detail that went into this part of the story. I do, however, apologise for the length of the excerpt. Miira’s induction into Innerscape is perhaps the most ‘scifi’ part of the entire story, and I wanted it to feel plausible. I believe that one day, this kind of technology, or something similar to it, will be commonplace. No more cutting through bone with a saw or making holes with a drill. Neurosurgeons will use very different tools to accomplish procedures that are currently impossible. I hope I’m around to see it.

Would I allow my body to become 100% dependent on an AI? Yes….with reservations. A digital world like Innerscape may one day provide terminal patients with a second chance at life, but wherever we ‘go’, we take our hopes, fears, strengths and weaknesses with us. That means no world will ever become a paradise, but with a little lot of good will, it could turn into a home…maybe.

Thank you for staying with me. I’ve had fun and hope you have too. Miira will become free tomorrow [my time] so I’ll post the third and last favourite for this book once the Amazon clock has ticked over. You can find the complete schedule of books coming up for free, here.

cheers
Meeks

 


Joscha Bach on mind, modelling and reality

Apologies. I’m doing this post simply so I can easily find this video again. It goes for about 3 hours and my brain can only handle it in ‘chunks’. So please ignore this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-2P3MSZrBM

Just as a note to myself : brain biology = electrical and chemical pathways for sensory input. Electrical = digital but chemical = analog.

Can a construct, an AI, ever be self aware ‘like us’ if it cannot synthesize sensory input as both digital and analog?

Meeks


The Omnibus is FREE!

I’m pleased to announce that the Innerscape Omnibus is now live on Amazon and free for the next five days. The last free day will be the 24th of April, 2020.

To download your free copy of the Omnibus, click the link below:

Or click ‘Amazon’, on the sidebar to the right ….>>>>>
Both links will take you to the Omnibus page on Amazon.com.

I hope you enjoy the story and escape the real world for a while. 🙂

Stay well,

Meeks


The Irishman special FX

I haven’t seen The Irishman, but the video detailing how it was made has me absolutely enthralled. Watch, and see for yourself:

Cool tech, right? But it’s not just the tech that has me jiggling up and down in my chair. It’s the fact that another piece of Innerscape is becoming a reality! -dance-

If you read book 1 of the Innerscape trilogy, you may remember the scene, early in the story, in which Miira finally gets to see the ‘avatar’ she will use once she has been inducted into Innerscape. That avatar is based on her 29 year old self. In other words, her avatar has to be ‘de-aged’.

To make the story work, the Innerscape AI had to be sophisticated enough to create avatars so real looking that none of the Residents can tell the difference. That was one of the key pieces of tech in the story, and now I know that it’s possible, actually possible.

I cannot tell you how good that feels.

cheers

Meeks


#Chatbots – and we need them because…?

Okay, all I know about chatbots is what I’ve been reading on Medium lately, and the frustrating experience of ringing my utility company and being forced to answer the STUPID questions of its chatbot.

You know how it goes. You ring and either have to wait forever for the call to be picked up, or the chatbot answers and asks for your account number when all you want is some general information. Grrrr….

So you dig out a utility bill and spit out the account number, knowing full well that if you get through to a real person they will ask you for the number again anyway.

Then the utility company bot asks you to explain the reason for your call. You grit your teeth and try to think of a one or three word description and e.n.u.n.c.i.a.t.e it as clearly as possible while growling in the back of your throat.

What happens next? The chatbot either mishears you, or simply doesn’t have a response for your particular query and asks if you want to speak to a customer service representative…

-face palm-

Do I want to speak to a real, live person? Oh god…

Anyway, if you look at this infographic from Medium, you will see a comparison between a chatbot ‘conversation’ and the same query via a simple Google search:

chatbots vs google

To me, there is no point in carrying on a long, inane Q&A ‘conversation’ with a chatbot when a word or two is all I need to get all the information I need from Papa Google. But am I just being an elitist nerd?

I rather suspect I am. In fact, I rather suspect that most people who regularly use computers are elitist nerds. Why? Because using a computer is actually a lot harder than learning how to use apps on a smartphone. That is why smartphone use has skyrocketed world wide. It is also the reason some pundits believe the days of the desktop [computer] are over. Why pay so much and have to go through such a steep learning curve to do things a smartphone can do so much easier?

There is a part of me that wants to scream that what a smartphone can do is just a fraction of what a ‘proper’ computer can do, but the words barely form before I get a flash of the early 80’s and the emergence of the personal computer. Back then, PCs were much less powerful than mainframes, and I’m sure a lot of old school programmers could not see why everyone couldn’t just learn FORTRAN or something…

So…smartphones may be to the future what PCs were to the past because they are:

  • cheaper,
  • convenient,
  • portable in a real sense,
  • easy to use, and
  • a growth market

But I hope, truly ruly hope that chatbots are just the toddler stage of a technological progression that will end [?] with real voice recognition and real AI support.

Until then, I’ll stick with old school search engines and my antiquated desktop because…I’m an elitist dinosaur with poor eyesight and a pathological hatred of chatbots.

cheers

Meeks


2081 – The To-do List

“Replay, to-do list, current.”

“Would you like me to replay the to-do list in order of priority?”

“Yes.”

“You have two priority 1 tasks. The first is to  visit your Mother. The second is to visit your Grandmother. Then there are three priority-…”

“Cancel and return to cupboard.”

“As you wish.”

I know most people love their AI’s but I’ve never  been one of them. There’s just something about those smarmy, computerized voices that makes my teeth ache. I mean I know AI’s are meant to simulate real people but why do the manufacturers have to make them sound so… cheerful. And polite.

When I bought my first AI I tried swearing at it. I  even slapped it around a bit and all it said was, “Please do not hit me. You will injure yourself.”

The fact that the damned thing was right just made  me even angrier. I know it’s stupid to get angry with a machine but the disconnect between how it looks and how it behaves annoys the shit out of me. A pile of e-plas and electronics just shouldn’t look like the sexiest man alive. It really shouldn’t.

I tried a female AI for a short while. I dressed  her/it up in my ugliest ‘fat’clothes but the damned thing made them look good. It had to go. I mean, for real!  I’m not crazy vain but what sane woman wants to be woken each day by a vision of perfection when she knows she’s got bed hair and sleep lines?

So now I’ve got a male AI again but it’s one of the  older models, not one of those new walking, talking dildos that my Mum has. Her AI really gives me the creeps, especially when she calls it ‘Elvis’.

I guess I’m more like my Nana that way. We both think machines should look and act like machines.

Mum says Nan is just too old-fashioned for her own good but that’s not completely true. Nan isn’t anti-tech, she just prefers ‘bots that look like boxes on castors. Her appartment is full of them. Some vacuum the floors, some crawl all over her shelves dusting the knick-knacks and she even has one that lives in her cooler, sniffing out off food and composting it in this weird expandable tummy.

Mum is forever at Nan to get the cooler replaced  with a new model that does all the food disposal  automatically but Nan just smiles and keeps her antiques anyway. And they are antiques in their way. How she keeps them going I’ll never know. I think she must have a network of other oldies who still know how to repair things.

The trouble is that Nan and her oldies are getting old too.  What is going to happen when they get too old to fix stuff?

I hate to say it but Mum is right about this. We  have to get Nan modernised a bit, starting with the cooler. Off food is no joke, especially now that Nan’s sense of smell is not what it was. If her sniffer ever malfunctions the food in her cooler could kill her.

That’s why I have to go over to Nan’s place. Today.  She doesn’t know it yet but in a few hours she’s going to be getting a brand new cooler and I have to be there to sweet talk her into letting the delivery ‘bots in through the door.

It’s not going to be easy but I have a plan, of  sorts. I found this place that sells reconditioned box coolers. They’re the kind that the old vendor ‘bots used to carry around full of ice-cream in the summer. They don’t take up a lot of space and I’m hoping Nan will agree to retiring her sniffer to the box cooler. Then, instead of putting her food scraps down the composting shute she can feed them to the
sniffer. Sort of like a pet.

After old Rufus died Nan swore she wouldn’t get another cat but I know she misses having something to look after so maybe, just maybe the sniffer can take Rufus’ place. Sort of.

Just thinking about turning a ‘bot into a pet makes me squirm a bit but sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the people you love. And I do love my Nan.

Today is not going to be a good day though.

“AI?”

“How may I help you?”

“Update to-do list.”

“I am ready. Please go ahead.”

“Tag Nan, visit equals done. Reschedule Mum, visit for next week.”

“Oh I am so pleased you will be visiting your Grandmother today and I will reschedule the reminder to visit your Mother for Monday, July the 16th, 2081.


%d bloggers like this: