Tuesday, 5 May 2015


Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Boat introduces the theme of human-AI interaction which Anderson developed further later.

The Boat Of A Million Years, Chapter XIX, section 33, is about organic-AI coexistence.

The Harvest of Stars Tetralogy is about organic-AI conflict.

Genesis, Part Two, is about conflict between post-organic AI's when one such AI re-creates organic intelligences.

In Boat:

"'...the advanced, independent robots are no threat to us.'" (p. 597)

Organics explore space and colonize new planets while AI's develop mathematics and aesthetics. Yet the Harvest AI's regard the mere existence of unpredictably active organic intelligences as a threat to their ideal of cosmic order. This perceived conflict is not only unnecessary but also maybe somewhat implausible?

In Boat, the Alloi value humanity and will accompany the Survivors to the Earth-like planet that they plan to colonize, thus ensuring their success. When the new planet is populated, there will be more space travel. In most high-tech civilizations, organics are eventually integrated into AI but a few races remain organic and continue to explore.

Hanno speculates:

fish that were not doing well in water crawled onto land - or at least, I would say, learned to survive when tidally stranded;

reptiles' ancestors were forced out of amphibians' swamps;

birds were forced into the air;

mammals found niches away from the dinosaurs;

some apes were forced out of the trees;

Phoenicians, holding only a thin strip of land, took to the sea;

European outcasts went to America or Australia;

the Survivors were no longer at home on Earth.

However, it seems strange for an Anderson hero to acknowledge that he is of a line of descent that could not compete.

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