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April 26, 2006

The Glenn and Helen Show: An Interview with Vernor Vinge

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I'm interested in the Singularity, and I'm a big fan of Vernor Vinge's. He's got a new book out next week called Rainbows End, set in 2025, and as I've mentioned before it's pretty much an Army of Davids kind of world. He's also the author of such previous classics as A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky.

We talk to him about the Singularity -- and how it may come from the superhuman "ensemble behavior" of ordinary humans with powerful computers linked via the Internet rather than through the development of superhuman artificial intelligence -- about signposts indicating how we're doing, about humanity's prospects for utopia or extinction, and related minor issues. We also discussed writing science fiction (the secret, he says, is "brain parasitism," taking advantage of readers' smarts), whether college is becoming obsolete, mind uploading, and the joys (or lack thereof) of virtual-reality sex, a question that perplexes Helen.

You can listen directly (no iPod needed) by clicking right here, or you can get it via iTunes. (We'd like it if you'd actually subscribe on iTunes, as that's what pushes us up the charts there). There's also an archive of previous podcasts here, and you can get this -- and other -- podcasts in a low-fi dialup version here.

Hope you liked it! Music is "Indistinguishable from Magic" and "Robosexual" by Mobius Dick.

Once again, my lovely and talented cohost is soliciting comments and suggestions for future episodes.

UPDATE: Vinge emails: "Wow! Such fast 'time to press' is a nice commentary on our times all by itself."