thanks for the reference, I was not aware of the Renesan <http://www.ssreg.com/renesan/classes/classes.asp?catID=4369> Institute before this, though I had heard somewhere about the first listed lecture/course/seminar on "the Trickster". I don't see your course in the lineup? I will be out of town on the 7th so I wouldn't try to attend anyway, but as always "good on ya" for your efforts to continue to spread the enlightenment.

I've a friend who introduced me to Jack... he was in middle school in Portales when someone introduced him to "that old professor who writes Science Fiction" (then in his 50s?). They became fast friends despite the many decades between them, and my friend Joe even influenced several of Jack's titles, if not characters and narratives. He claims he helped Jack come up with the title "Terraforming Earth", although Joe's throwdown was "Terraforming Terra" which apparently Jack loved but his editor said "not enough people know what 'Terra' is". Oh well.


In Jack's life story, his parents moved him from their hardscrabble farm near Bisbee AZ where he was born to a relative's more productive ranches in Mexico/TX but eventually eventually they migrated to NM in 1915 in a covered wagon. He has(d) stories!

I have a copy of Jack's 2005 autobiography, "Wonder's Child" if perchance you would like to borrow it. The duality of Science/Fiction ( or more generally the interplay between the literal/actualized and the imagined is a fascinating study to me). This second wave of Scientific Romancing (after Verne, Swift, Burroughs, even London/Twain) was so smack-dab in the middle of the golden age of transportation and communication, into information processing that it deeply informs/reflects our contemporary psyche, even for those who think they don't like or care about Science Fiction. The more modern adoption of Science Fiction into mainstream cinema/TV has put titles/tropes like "the Matrix" and "BladeRunner", "Avatar" and "Dr. Who" squarely in the face (most literally) of the masses.

I believe this is for the better and the worse. Like everything I suppose! Nothing Aristotelian about MY logic!?

- Steve

   /"The best thing about being on the fence is that the view is better
   from up there"/ - R. Edward Lowe

Steve, it is a Renesan course on Tue, September 7 and 14. I have read Jack Williamson, not all 90, and he would have been included in another course I proposed to Renesan on science fiction themes. Maybe in the future.

davew



On Wed, Aug 9, 2017, at 09:57 AM, Steven A Smith wrote:

Dave -

Most excellent of you to do this, and what will be your venue for this class?

Are you familiar with our own Jack Williamson <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Williamson>'s vague parallel work in his "Humanoids" which began in 1947 with the Novelette: "With Folded Hands". I do not know if he ever acknowledged an influence in this work from Asimov's introduction to the "three laws" in 1941? He investigates the (unintended/unexpected catastrophic consequences of something like the three laws on humanity, having the human spirit "quelled" by being "niced" or "safed" near-to-death)

He claims to have written this as a cathartic project to shake off the existential angst/depression he felt from the (ab)use of atomic weapons at the end of WWII. Jack was too old to serve in the military when the war broke out (he was 36?), but instead volunteered to work in the South Pacific as a civilian meteorologist. He had started his career in Science Fiction before the term was fully adopted (Scientific Romance and Scientifiction being precursors according to Jack) with the publication of a short story "Metal Man" In Hugo Gernsbach's /Amazing Stories /in 1928. Up until the end of WWII he claims to have been somewhat of a techno-utopianist, believing that advancing technology would (continue to ) simply advance the quality of life of human beings (somewhat?) monotonically.

I hosted Jack at an evening talk at LANL/Bradbury Science Museum in 1998 during the Nebula Awards on the theme of how Science and Science Fiction inform one another. Jack was 90 that year and had over 90 published works at that time. His work was always somewhat in the vein of Space Opera and his characters were generally quite two dimensional and his gender politics typical of his generation of science fictioneers, yet he was still loved by his community. His use of this pulpy/pop medium as a way to investigate and discuss fundamental aspects of human nature and many of the social or even spiritual implications of the advance of technology was nevertheless quite inspired (IMO).

He died in 2007 at the ripe young age of 98 and was still producing work nearly up to the day of his death. In 1998 when I first met him, the OED was creating an appendix/section of "neologisms from science fiction" and he was credited (informally?) with having the most entries in the not-yet-published project. His most famous throwdown in this category at the time was his "invention" of anti-matter, which he called "contra-terrene" or more colloquially "seetee" (a phoneticization of the contraction "CT")! He was also quite proud of being interrogated by the FBI during the Manhattan project for having written a story about Atomic Weapons... they wanted to assume he had access to a security leak until he showed them a 1932(?) short story on the same theme, making it clear that the ideas of nuclear fission (fusion even?) as a weapon were not new (to him anyway)... that apparently satisfied them and of course, he didn't appreciate the full import of their interrogation until after the war.

Carry On!

 - Steve


On 8/9/17 9:05 AM, Prof David West wrote:
For what its worth - I will be teaching a short class next month in Santa Fe, "Isaac Asimov and the Robots." Two points of coverage: 1) the robots themselves invent and follow a "Zeroth Law" that allows them to eliminate individual human beings with a result the exact opposite of Hawking et. al.'s fears that our creations will not love us; 2) how the actual evolution of robotics and AI (see Daniel Suarez'/Kill Decision/ - autonomous swarming drones as tools of war and death to humans) diverged from the rosy naive 1950s view of the future that Asimov advanced.

davew


On Mon, Aug 7, 2017, at 09:54 PM, Carl Tollander wrote:
It seems to me that there are many here in the US who are not entirely on board with Asimov's First Law of Robotics, at least insofar as it may apply to themselves, so I suspect notions of "reining it in" are probably not going to fly.




On Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 1:57 AM, Alfredo Covaleda VĂ©lez <alfr...@covaleda.co <mailto:alfr...@covaleda.co>> wrote:

    Future will be quite interesting. How will be the human being
    of the future? For sure not a human being in the way we know.

    
http://m.eltiempo.com/tecnosfera/novedades-tecnologia/peligros-y-avances-de-la-inteligencia-artificial-para-los-humanos-117158
    
<http://m.eltiempo.com/tecnosfera/novedades-tecnologia/peligros-y-avances-de-la-inteligencia-artificial-para-los-humanos-117158>

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