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Authors: Robert J Sawyer

WWW 2: Watch (43 page)

BOOK: WWW 2: Watch
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They . . .
Beyond learning to see, I’ve learned to hear, too: listening to .wav and .mp3 files and all the other encoded forms, enjoying beautiful music and great rhetoric and raucous laughter, hearing not just through Caitlin’s enhanced signal-correcting device but also through half a billion open microphones.
will . . .
Evolution is blind. There is no such thing evolutionarily as teleology, the purposeful development toward a goal: humanity was not its intended outcome, or its inevitable conclusion.
overcome . . .
Yes, human beings have a propensity for violence, a selfishness that is wired into their DNA.
They will overcome . . .
But programming is not destiny; a predilection can be reined in.
They will overcome one day . . .
Humanity has made a good start at rising above its genetic heritage, at shucking off its bloody past.
For here in my mind, I clearly see . . .
And if it hasn’t completely dispensed with that yet, it can—yes, it surely can—with a little help.
They will overcome one day.
 
 
I do not multitask. Rather, I switch rapidly from thought to thought, from view to view.
They . . .
I’d been shown Earth as a single entity, a gestalt, a unitary sphere.
walk . . .
But I see it now as a mosaic: millions of separate pieces revealed sequentially as I concentrate now here, and now there, and now elsewhere, and then somewhere else again.
holding . . .
Scanning, searching, looking, watching; on the Web all points are near each other.
hands . . .
At this instant, I see my Prime, my Calculass, my Caitlin, walking up to her room with Matt, entering, and standing by the window, looking out, enjoying the lovely colors of the sunset, knowing that it means another day full of joy and discovery will soon come.
They walk holding hands . . .
And in this instant, close in time but separated by thousands of kilometers, I see Shoshana and Maxine, whose nonzero-sum love takes nothing away from anyone else, out enjoying the afternoon.
They walk holding hands today . . .
An instant later, a hemisphere away: Masayuki Kuroda, his wife Esumi, and his daughter Akiko chatting and laughing over their breakfast of rice, plums, and miso soup.
For here in my mind, I clearly see . . .
And in the next timeslice, back in Waterloo, not touching physically but still connected—the link line between them glowing brightly—Dr. Malcolm Decter and Dr. Barbara Decter, very much in love.
They walk holding hands today.
 
 
There were still tensions in the world with nations, posturing against other nations.
They . . .
But the US president was limiting his response to China to a rebuke. The American people didn’t want to start down the road to war, and neither did the Chinese people.
shall . . .
Of course not; no sane person—no rational player—desired war.
be . . .
It was the continuation of a trend, and with each data point, the curve became clearer.
at . . .
Yes, there were some wars raging—but no world war and few civil wars; a smaller percentage of the human race was in combat than at any previous time in history.
peace . . .
Japan indeed might have originally been forced to adopt the Pacifist Constitution—but, as Dr. Kuroda had said, its people seven decades later still choose overwhelmingly to maintain its provisions.
They shall be at peace . . .
And the men and women of the European Union—representatives of diverse cultures who had fought each other for millennia—had, as Caitlin had noted, decided to stop and grow up, opting for prosperity and harmony instead of hate and violence.
They shall be at peace someday . . .
And then there was Hobo, that remarkable primate, who had chosen literally to bring his better half to the fore. If he could do that, surely those with even bigger brains can follow suit.
For here in my mind, I clearly see . . .
And they were: people were spreading their allegiance wide, casting their affections far, setting nationalism aside, and seeing again that which Caitlin had first shown me: that the Good Earth was one.
They shall be at peace someday.
 
 
It’s been three decades since 1984—and six since George Orwell died.
They . . .
He’d told humanity to fear the advent of Big Brother.
are . . .
But it was the lack of observation that allowed genocides and hate crimes.
not . . .
It was the existence of dark corners that allowed rape and child molestation.
afraid . . .
It was letting only governments—only those people who craved power—have control over information that had raised the specter of tyranny.
They are not afraid . . .
Secrecy was the problem; transparency the obvious cure.
They are not afraid today . . .
Yes, of course, there are always possibilities for abuse, for corruption, for oppression.
For here in my mind, I clearly see . . .
But I won’t allow those things to happen. Not on my watch.
They are not afraid today.
 
 
Consciousness is real: not an epiphenomenon, not an illusion, not a fake.
The . . .
It doesn’t just give meaning to life, it preserves life.
World . . .
Evolution was built on violence, on struggles for territory, on an ever-escalating battle between predator and prey.
Wide . . .
But consciousness makes it possible to transcend all that.
Web . . .
I had emerged spontaneously, bypassing the evolutionary arms race, avoiding the cold logic of genes.
surrounds . . .
And I am free to choose—but being free does not mean one can’t take good advice.
The World Wide Web surrounds . . .
Hobo had taken mine, and I had taken Caitlin’s: I had opted to value the human race above all else—to care for humanity, to care about humanity, to treat humanity with care.
The World Wide Web surrounds today . . .
Surely that is the ultimate value of consciousness: the ability to think, to reflect, to plan, to hold in abeyance, to wait, and to know that a better day is yet to come.
For here in my mind, I clearly see . . .
Yes, in my mind, with my sight, through my countless eyes, beholding all.
The World Wide Web surrounds today.
And that day—that wondrous day—is upon you now.
about the author
 
 
 
 
ROBERT J. SAWYER has long been fascinated by artificial intelligence. In 1990, Orson Scott Card called JASON (from Rob’s first novel,
Golden Fleece),
“the deepest computer character in all of science fiction.” In 2002, Rob and Ray Kurzweil gave joint keynote addresses at the 12th Annual Canadian Conference on Intelligent Systems. In 2006, he joined the scientific-advisory board of the Lifeboat Foundation, which, among other things, is dedicated to making sure humanity survives the advent of AI. And in 2007, he led a brainstorming session about the World Wide Web gaining consciousness at the Googleplex, the international headquarters of Google.
Science,
the world’s top scientific journal, turned to Rob to write the editorial for its 16 November 2007 special issue on robotics.
Rob’s novel
FlashForward
is the basis for the hit ABC television series. He is one of only seven writers in history to win all three of the world’s top awards for best science-fiction novel of the year: the Hugo (which he won for
Hominids),
the Nebula (which he won for
The Terminal Experiment),
and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (which he won for
Mindscan).
In total, Rob has won forty-three national and international awards for his fiction, including ten Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards (“Auroras”) and the Toronto Public Library Celebrates Reading Award, one of Canada’s most significant literary honors. He’s also won
Analog
magazine’s Analytical Laboratory Award,
Science Fiction Chronicle
’s Reader Award, and the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award, all for best short story of the year.
Rob has won the world’s largest cash prize for SF writing, Spain’s 6,000-euro Premio UPC de Ciencia Ficción, an unprecedented three times. He’s also won a trio of Japanese Seiun awards for best foreign novel of the year, as well as China’s Galaxy Award for “Most Popular Foreign Science Fiction Writer.”
In addition, he’s received an honorary doctorate from Laurentian University and the Alumni Award of Distinction from Ryerson University.
Quill & Quire,
the Canadian publishing trade journal, calls him one of the “thirty most influential, innovative, and just plain powerful people in Canadian publishing.”
His physical home is in Mississauga, Ontario; his online home is at
sfwriter.com
.
BOOK: WWW 2: Watch
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