Thursday, August 30, 2012

One step closer to immortality


Folks I may have to bump up my time scale for my Culver Bishop novel “Every purpose under heaven.”

Today I read that a team of Harvard scientists have successfully integrated synthetic human skin with nano-electronics effectively creating a living CYBORG tissue.

Here’s the article:

Where are we "headed"?

 If you just read the article... isn’t that just a big WOW???!!

There’s talk of “seeding” nano-mesh material with real living cells and watching them grow and learn to interact with the mesh in a way that allows for external monitoring and manipulation of the material by the scientists!

WOW!

They stated that the near term intended uses is for drug manufacturers to see how new drugs might interact with the cells.

And that’s where I begin to wonder...

If you follow me at all you then know that my Culver Bishop character is a scientist who is tasked with blending live human nerve cells with nano-chip technology to create non-dying nerve cells that can be successfully implanted into humans, which effectively allows humans to live forever!

Now, if you take the Harvard article above, along with what I wrote in an article a few weeks ago (here) in which we discussed TRANSHUMANISM, or the attempt to make humans part man/part machine, you can see that we are already WELL on our way toward creating what my heroine Culver is tasked with doing in the novel!

I had initially setup the novel to occur in the year 2048. I may have to reconsider that.

But you know what?

That is just fine with me. It’s the ever changing always growing aspects of science that get me excited. If I have to adjust to keep up with it that’s all right with me.


Later!

PPC

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Help! I need somebody.


Some people might ask why I do all this.

(ok, maybe they don’t... but they might... someday)

Why do you write? Why do you blog? Why do you care? Why do you make pancakes in the morning and walk around naked when no one is around?

Courtesy Molly MacRae WANA Commons

Well the naked pancake part defies explanation.

But the rest?

I think I can have a go at all that.

I write because I love it.

Fantasy, scifi, etc. etc...

I love these genres and therefore I write in these genres.

And I love to help others.

That’s why I write the “Stop Sucking” series (see all my books here).

I think it’s vitally important to develop a habit of helping. And let me be VERY clear about something before I go any further.

I am NOT a saint. I am not looking for glory. I am not out to make myself look like I am better than anyone else.

I genuinely believe that it is RIGHT for me to pass on information and tips and advice and hell even just passing on the BS about my life because it may make some of you chuckle... It is the right thing to do because it might just help someone else who is in a tight spot facing some of the same monsters and demons I have faced and if it helps you to get over or beyond or to beat that monster in half the time it took me then we have all just made the world a little better.

Now... since you have maybe just learned a little bit of something from me, it’s time for you to pass it on. Give it to someone else who needs it. And yes, I’ll use the cliché... Pay it forward.

But...Why?

Why should you do this? Why should I do this?

Simple... helping you helps me helps you helps me...

Long ago I learned a lesson that still sticks with me. It was about work and work related issues but it crosses over perfectly into almost all things in life.

See basically there are two ways to look at the world: FEAST or FAMINE.

I like to break these down to something I can understand a little better: ABUNDANCE and SCARCITY.

If you are a writer and you look at your work from a SCARCITY or FAMINE mentality you might believe that there are only a FEW book buyers out there, or there are only a FEW agents or publishers who will want you, or that you will only be able to reach a FEW people with your writing.

And you may be right. I don’t know. I can’t be sure.

But one thing I CAN be sure about... if you approach your work with ONLY that frame of mind then there WILL only be a FEW readers/agents/publishers. You will be a prophet.

I think it was Henry Ford who said “If you think you can or you think you can’t you are right.”

I firmly believe that a proper attitude or frame of mind or paradigm or whatever freaking fancy word you want to put on it... your mental state can and WILL drive and direct how well you perform and succeed.

Put simply... do it half-assed and you will fall on your full ass.

BUT.... yes there is always a big but...

Let’s turn this frown upside down!

Let’s look at your work/goals from an ABUNDANCE mentality, take the FEAST approach.

I mean COME ON! The words themselves elicit a better frame of mind!

FEAST! Mmm... food... barbecues... shrimp... steaks... potatoes!

See???!! Don’t you feel better already???!!!

OK, let’s put some numbers to it. A quick (fake) Google search tells me that there are THOUSANDS of agents out there. Have you queried them all?

And there are HUNDREDS of publishers out there. Have you sent them all samples?

And for us indies... there are MILLIONS of readers out there and MILLIONS of hits on Amazon all the time... have you as yet been in the face of all those potential readers?

Looking at it like that you can see what I mean when I say FEAST and ABUNDANCE!

There are quite literally MILLIONS of potential buyers for indie authors out there. If we were sharks we would be feeding constantly!

Now I ain’t saying it’s easy. There is a LOT of work to be done.

But stop right there... re-read what I just wrote... there is a LOT of work to be done!

One might say there is an ABUNDANCE of work to be done... a virtual FEAST of tasks to be completed.

So instead of sitting around scratching your ass wondering when someone is going to do it all for you, why don’t you sit up in your chair and start making a PLAN of action and do some of these things on your own! OR maybe even do ALL of them on your own!

It ain’t easy, but it CAN be done.

There are TONS of resources out there. Use Google. It’s a great tool.

And OK, here... I will even GIVE you a few websites so that you can get started on your own. Sheez... I didn’t think I was going to have to do it ALL for you! (heehee... JK)

Start here: KristenLamb is one of the best places to begin for indie authors. Because you will need a Social Media platform. Don’t ask me what that is... that’s Kristen’s Job.

Then go here: BobMayer is an accomplished writer who also passes along great tips and such about indie publishing etc.

And there are some GREAT online papers that gather a TON of other blogs together into one location so you can peruse and choose articles that best fit your needs. One is Corvallis Press and another is Unbridled Editor.

So look... I ain’t saying it’s easy and I ain’t saying I’m perfect and I ain’t saying this ain’t gonna take a lot of time and a lot of work. (haha... I like using AINT... drive all you ProfessorPedantic’s CRAZY!!)

But you can do a LOT of it... and, if you approach your work with a GOOD attitude, an attitude of ABUNDANCE, then you will realize that there is a lot of booty out there just waiting for an Indie Pirate to come along and take it!

So go get some booty!

Later!

PPC




Friday, August 17, 2012

Boston Dynamics gets DARPA contract to build humanoid bi-pedal autonomous robot


Folks, don’t blink.

If you blink, you might just miss the rapid developments in the fields of robotics and engineering and government contracts to build robots.

Real-time events in robotics and the intended acquisition and use of robots are advancing at a rate that might surprise even the most die-hard sci-fi fan and hobbyist (such as I) and said events are far enough along now that they should be nudging into the consciousness of even the most unaware of the general public.

CH-47 Gunner's Eye View by Steven Thomas Howell
Courtesy Steven Thomas Howell WANA Commons

 
For some time now I have been intrigued by the development of an east coast engineering firm by the name of Boston Dynamics.

These guys and gals here at BD are on the BLEEDING EDGE of experimental robotics and have already created the freaking wildest and craziest of autonomous robots that you have ever seen.

I mean seriously, check this out:



Isn’t that incredible??!! (If you are interested, (and come on... you ARE interested, right??) then you should go to Boston Dynamic site and watch more videos)

Even if left alone with no further development that video to me shows an incredible amount of sophistication in engineering that surpasses many of my own imaginings.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Folks, did you know that just this week the esteemed scientists and engineers at Boston Dynamic were awarded with a $10.9 MILLION dollar contract from none other than DARPA to create build and deliver TWO identical robots that DARPA intends to use “...to provide assistance, such as perform evacuation operations, during any potential natural or man-made disasters that would otherwise prove too dangerous for human aid.” (read more here)

Isn’t that FREAKING AWESOME!

But the intended use DARPA has in mind goes even further. They want each robot to “... operate with supervised autonomy, and will be able to operate intelligently by itself during situations when supervision may break down.”

These robots will be able to operate INTELLIGENTLY and BY THEMSELVES when a human supervisor is not available!!!!

WOW!

This is just FREAKING AWESOME!

Now folks, hear me out. When I watch the videos from Boston Dynamics I have two major and conflicting emotions.

First I am completely awed when I watch their creations at work. These machines are engineering miracles and are by themselves some of the greatest things that MAN has ever created.

Second, you may have guessed, my over active writer-ly mind/imagination kicks in and of course I start thinking of all the ways that robots have been used in very bad way ways in the past in stories. And I also start to imagine how I can use this new information and incorporate it into MY stories because, let’s not mince words here... this stuff is just FREAKING AWESOME!

If you’ve read my blog at all then you know how quickly I can lead these new machines into realms consisting of Overlords and maniacal geniuses wielding magical tools of transhumanism and cloud computing utilizing massive armies of centrally controlled but imminently autonomous mechanical creatures in order to rule the world. (read more here and here)

But I gotta tell ya, reality is quickly catching up with a poor ole sci-fi guy like me. Hell, if real science keeps this up pretty soon we won’t even be able to complain about how they haven’t created flying cars yet!

Later!


PPC





Monday, August 13, 2012

Super soldiers, DARPA, HAARP


Hello fellow Plotters, Romy-ites, and Culver-ites!

Around the net today there is lots of talk of the possibility that secret HAARP experiments have caused the earthquakes in Iran. (read here)

Now, I am a certifiable scifi nut like many of you, and while it’s interesting to think of HAARP involvement in the earthquakes, I do not really believe it’s possible to use HAARP to such devastating effect. I could be wrong, which it’s why it’s interesting to read about it. But personally I think that’s a little far-fetched and fanciful.

I'm not a nut, I'm just prepared!


But what if it was real and the government or the military could use HAARP to trigger earthquakes or catastrophic weather conditions?

That would be a tremendous force-multiplier for whoever controlled that technology. 

Speaking of force-multiplier’s... in another article it is being reported that DARPA is floating information about TRANSHUMANISM in creating a Super Soldier, and by leaking out the information in dribs and drabs they are hoping to soften the opinions of the public in order to prepare them for the advent of a SUPERIOR military race. Read about DARPA here.

Not only are they using additive transhumanism by adding mechanical parts to normal humans, they are also using genetic transhumanism, meaning they are modifying the genetics of humans to make them something MORE than human. (Read my other article about Transhumanism here)

Reportedly DARPA has perfected a method to inject a VIRUS that would trigger specific genes which could make a soldier Super Strong, or have the ability to go without food, or communicate telepathically. Read more here and here.

Sounds like the Bourne series.

Another author, Simon Conway, gained special access to the DARPA discoveries and he has a new book out called Rockcreek Park. Read Simon’s info here.

With all the talk of societal collapse (here), banks being prepped for economic meltdown (here), crops failing and rampant wildfires (here), and the Department of Homeland Security buying millions of rounds of ammo and gear for war (here), you begin to wonder what might happen if the military actually DID create a super powerful autonomous soldier, and what might happen if that group of super soldiers decided that the human race was to blame for all the horrors they were programmed to fight against? (Look here

All this has a writer like me salivating to come up with the next cool story incorporating all of this wild information.

At least, that’s what I am planning on doing with it.


Later!

PPC

 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Science and Sociology


Folks, let me bring to your attention three recent articles of news to illustrate why you should be paying attention to the application of science in the daily lives of our society (especially if you are a sci-fi or speculative fiction writer or reader like me).

Photo courtesy Steven Thomas Howell WANA Commons

STORY #1
First, in a reversal of my typical order, I bring you a heartwarming story to counter my jaded view of transhumanism posited in this previous Multiverse post here:

This is a story of two scientists who used 3-D printing devices to create prosthetic arms for a beautiful two-year old girl.


Now, that is the kind of story that can take a crusty old codger like me and turn him into a blubbering pool of tears. This is a story of science at its best.

STORY #2
Next, I point you to the science article related to real-world testing of Time Dilation, which sends me (happily) off into the realm of speculation and science fiction where Time Displacement and Time Travel exist as realities:

Scientists have discovered through testing of non-uniformly arranged visual events that the human eye and brain apply biased estimations of arrival and departure times of objects (speed up and slow down).


I love these kinds of stories. Both of my current sci-fi novels Romy Malloy and Culver Bishop (read here and here) are concerned with time travel and time displacement. 

STORY #3
And finally, this article is a perfect example of the nefarious application (or non-application) of science in our lives:


The key quote to take from this article is the one that discusses the response from the drug manufacturers when presented with a “viable CURE” for diabetes: “All told her there wasn’t enough money to be made in a cure that used an inexpensive, generically available vaccine, Faustman said.”

So, do you think our doctors will be forthcoming in telling us about this possible cure, or will they continue to be beholden to the money from the Big Pharma manufacturers? Hmm... I guess we shall see.

Now as you know this blog is not meant to exist as a cause du jour protest and yell about issues and such type site. I only want to bring attention to these stories to show you how I use common day-to-day type information to stimulate my imagination and bring fresh ideas to my stories.

If you find any of these stories spur you to action, then more power to ya!

That’s more than I could ever hope for.

Thanks!



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A writer on Mars


Folks, I have to confess. It’s time to come clean.

I haven’t been watching the latest news on the recent Mars Curiosity project landing.

It just hasn’t really appealed to me. I keep thinking “Haven’t we already done this?”

Call me crazy, but this just seems like old news.

(image courtesy of Marie Loughin WANA Commons)

OK, I know there will be some of you out there who start shouting and screaming:
“It’s the largest spacecraft ever sent to another planet!”
“This is the best chance yet to find ORGANIC material!”
“What are you freaking stupid or just being purposefully obtuse?”
(Yea, I made up that last one... heehee)

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me and my overly active imagination. I probably would not make the best exploratory scientist because I get way to impatient when stuff doesn’t happen.

I mean sure, taking pictures and collecting soil samples and pondering the possibility that the plumage snapped in the first 200 milliseconds after landing was a “freak” one-in-a-million pic of the wreckage of the “Crane” device that brought the Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars is all well and good.

But I want some REAL action!

Wouldn’t it be great to actually SEE something happening there like we see in all the cool movies?

How about a little Martian Face time?

Maybe some ancient Relics leading to a device that creates a Martian atmosphere?

Or how about some little green men doing a drive-by shooting shouting out the Martian equivalent of “Not in my back yard, you stupid Earthlings!”

I know, I know... there’s like a ONE in a GA-GILLION chance that there is or ever was any real intelligent life on Mars. About the same chance of ever hearing a politician actually tell the truth.

But it would be awesome.

I guess that’s why writers write, right?

Gotta go out and make up our own cool stories about little green men to satisfy our impatient imaginations.

And that my dear friends is the whole reason for this out of this world post... yes, there really IS a point to all this.

See, just like a scientist dreaming of great action and great results from the Mars explorations, being a writer or an artist or a creative type person we all dream of one day hitting that BIG jackpot.

Sorry, but if you say you don’t, or never have, or that you’re above all that menial trivial Neanderthal-ian type drivel, then you better go check your pulse.

We’re all alive here right? All HUMAN here, right? Umm wait... I gotta ask... ARE there any Martians reading this?

Cause if so PLEASE leave comments!!! I would love to get a quote from you!

But in all actuality, since there are no “other worldly” beings here... let’s all be honest and state once and for all that at one time or another WE ALL HAVE DREAMED OF MAKING IT BIG!

Now I am NOT saying that we haven’t overcome that, or that making it big is no LONGER your goal, or that you have not reached a level of maturity far beyond the level that I seem to show as evidenced by my writing. If you have risen above all that, then good for you.

Now go away.

The rest of us are still much less evolved than you and your obvious intelligence and maturity are making the rest of us uncomfortable and much less willing to share and grow.

For the rest of us, here’s your chance to do some growing, or growing up, or growing out (in my case... I love my food!)

Dreaming of making it BIG is not a BAD THING!

It’s just not necessarily the ONE THING you should base your existence on as a writer or use as the penultimate measuring tool.

What if the Mars scientists we mentioned before had only ONE GOAL, that the only measurement of success was finding definitive signs of life on Mars, and what if these scientists decided to GIVE UP if they never achieved finding life?

I’ll say it: THAT WOULD BE STUPID!

There are MANY, say it again MANY other levels of success that you should be focused on and should be using as measurements of success.

Did you finish your book?

Good!

Now go publish it or look for representation.

Did you make a sale?

Good! Now go have a Margarita.

Think about this for a minute: By anyone’s measuring stick author Bob Mayer is a very successful writer.

But did you know in Bob’s first year as a self published writer he only sold THREE BOOKS???!!!

Most of us would say WTF?? And throw up our hands in disgust and head to the bar.

But wait... NOW Bob is selling something like 50,000 books each year!

You know what that tells me? That tells me that you can’t give up!

You can’t base your success on an overblown sense of desired goals.

Temper your goals. Temper your ideas of success.

Chop your goals into smaller more easily digestible goals and milestones and then celebrate each and every gosh dang one of ‘em!

THAT’S how you achieve success. Even if you don’t find life on Mars.



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Buck up!

Discouraged? Feeling down? Thinking that you might never get there?

Yea, me too sometimes.

Life is like that. Some days you’re at the top of the roller coaster, and some days...

Roller Coaster by beverlynault
(image courtesy beverlynault WANA Commons)

But you know what?

I think these days, these times in our lives when we are down and out and discouraged and at our wits ends are LEARNING experiences.

Yep!

At these times in your life it is a PERFECT TIME to step back and assess your situation.

Let’s explore.

Why are you discouraged?
Take a moment and look at the reasons for your discouraged feelings. Did it not work out how you wanted? Did somebody beat you to the punch and steal your thunder? Did someone criticize you?

Great!

Take all those things and USE them!

If it didn’t work out how you wanted then it just means that you need to think of a NEW way to make it work!

If someone beats you to the punch, then fall back, regroup, and place your pinpoint hawk-like gaze on a NEW date of delivery and make THAT day YOUR DAY!

If someone criticizes you, take a moment to think about the criticism... you can CHOOSE to either accept it and then USE it to make improvements, or... YOU CAN IGNOIRE IT! Did you know that? Yes... you CAN ignore what others say about you. There is no law that says you HAVE TO LISTEN TO THEIR CRAP!

Take the time to BE CAREFUL
But don’t just run out and start making changes willy-nilly, throwing new ideas around like a kid at the beach with a beach ball.

Take this time to make intelligent and mature decisions.

There is no need to rush just because you feel down.

Do NOT over-inflate your expectations.

And ALWAYS remember to balance your time appropriately: http://paulphilipcarter.blogspot.com/2012/06/quality-of-life.html

Life is going to punch back at you sometimes. Believe me, I know. The whole reason I am writing this post is because of the OCAM (One Crazy Ass Month) I have had this month.

Three major car breakdowns (necessitating a new/used car purchase), air conditioner breaking in both the house AND a car, money so tight it’s thinner than an underfed supermodel, garbage disposal broke, TWO toilets leaking that wouldn’t stop and no money to call a real plumber, a new book release, an old book free promo campaign...

Yea, it’s been crazy.

And, yes... I have had my share of discouragement.

But buck up!

After all, tomorrow IS another day!




Thursday, August 2, 2012

Transhumanism


Transhumanism is a difficult concept for most people to imagine, so let me begin at a point that most everyone will be able to relate to.

Artificial limbs. Artificial organs. Genetically engineered organic material meant to replace defective or destroyed parts of the human body.

It is very likely that if you are capable of reading this then you are also capable of understanding or at least grasping the idea of the things mentioned above.

Now, take that basic idea of replacing human body parts with artificial parts or with genetically engineered organic material and hold that as a thought for just a moment.

Put aside all the moral or spiritual debates that might initially spring to mind, however righteous or correct those arguments might be, and come along with me on what could be one possible timeline, peeking into one possible future, as we travel the super-highway of TRANSHUMANISM.

What creepy thing could be waiting just around the corner?

What exactly IS transhumanism?
According to Nick Bostrom writing in the Journal of Evolution and Technology transhumanism, or Humanity+ or just H+, “...is an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.”

Reducing that explanation to an easier description would give you this: the science and philosophy of transhumanism is interested in making humans smarter, stronger, and longer lasting.

Sounds good doesn’t it?

Most of us could take to the idea of being healthier, being stronger, and who knows, maybe even looking a little better than we currently do. The quest to LOOK GOOD or just look better seems to me to be fundamental facet of truth of our society, otherwise why would the health and beauty industries be making billions of dollars every year.

But transhumanism isn’t just about looking good. It’s also about improving our intellectual capabilities, knowledge storage and retrieval and application. Basically, it’s about being SMARTER and more capable than we are now. In short, making us more like a MACHINE, a computer. A robot.

Some of us might not be frightened by the idea of strapping on a gizmo that makes us as strong as the Six Million Dollar Man, or (for those of us not quite that old), The Terminator. It might even be fun to have the ability to lift a car or go diving without all that bulky gear or climb Mt. Everest at a record pace without oxygen tanks. But will it stop there?

Russian media mogul Dmitry Itskov has already stated that he intends to go much further.

Itskov’s new project, the 2045 Project, looks to go beyond just strapping on a gizmo to enhance the performance of human beings. By the year 2045 Itskov’s goal is to make it possible for a human to completely transfer their intellect, their consciousness, their BRAIN out of their current restrictive vessel and put it INTO a completely different vessel.

If it does someday happen that humans would be able to transfer all their knowledge and memories and sense of self outside themselves to a device other than their body... well that just creates a completely new and exciting (and frightening) realm of theoretical thought!

If this is ever a real thing, then who says I have to be a MAN or a WOMAN? Who says I have to have hair, or skin, or eyes?  Hell, who says I am even required to have a BODY?

Why not just apply my consciousness to a sub-atomic particle, something that would allow me to travel at or beyond the speed of light?

Kind of eliminates all the space travel issues we normally face, doesn’t it?

Is transhumanism a BAD thing?
Now what could be wrong with wanting to make humans better, stronger, faster? Curing disease or, hell ELIMINATING disease is just one aspect of the idea of transhumanism that should prod even the stodgiest of detractors to nod at the possibility.

But is there a possible DOWN SIDE to all of this? Living without disease, sporting an indestructible body, being able to purchase replacement parts... that would pretty much mean we could live forever.

And there is the first hitch...

By becoming immortal we would introduce the whole god factor thing to the equation.

Show of hands... how many of you would have no change in EGO if you found out you were immortal and indestructible and had the ability to travel faster than light?

Would you still feel the same as you do right now?

Maybe right now your life is pretty good... you feel somewhat confident, maybe you have a small amount of power and influence in the world, maybe you make a pretty good living and have no reason to believe that it will stop anytime soon and you should be able to live to a ripe old age with a full retirement package to enjoy before you trot off and die.

Is that enough?

What if you could continue forever, with the body you had in your early 20’s, or perhaps an even BETTER body, with no need to exert yourself unless you wanted to, endless fun, endless food, endless sex?

Umm... wouldn’t that make you feel a little god like? (lower case g intended).

I would venture a guess that most people wouldn’t be able to handle that kind of power. It wouldn’t be long before those people with the means to do so would build bigger and better contraptions to put themselves into.

What if a maniacal dictator had the capability to put his consciousness into a massively, colossal, gigantic piece of equipment with guns and lasers and poisonous gases and everything he might need to go out and conquer the world. Who’s stopping him?

And what about CLOUD computing? Have you seen the possibilities this creates? Using a collection of High Performance Computing technology servers with cloud computing capabilities that share data across hundreds or perhaps THOUSANDS or even MILLIONS of entities, you would have yourself a virtual army at your disposal. You would in fact BE the army... one mind controlling an entire unit with millions of bodies. Indestructable.

What more could we do or expect to do with transhumanism?
With faster than light travel, the ability to eliminate diseases (at least disease as we know it... what about software viruses?) and maybe even live forever, what more could we expect from transhumanism?

The altruistic side of me wants to imagine a better world, one in which there is no more war or famine or disease, one in which we are all truly capable of living life without the typical hardships we all encounter.

But I don’t think that would be the end of it.

As evident in the type of folks Itskov is courting as possible investors (wealthy), this type of technology would go first to the super rich. The idea of all powerful overlords springs readily to mind.

If this ever comes to fruition, would we get the world like The Terminator where the machine-people rise up to exterminate all the “meat-bags” and horde all the worlds resources to use selfishly for themselves and the people they decide to keep around?

Or, would it be all Unicorns and Rainbows?

As a writer I am of course drawn to the possibility of conflict and chaos as that makes for great story material. But it’s always possible transhumanism could turn out to be a good thing.

What do you think?



Check out my fantasy novel “The Plotters of Cantaera” and my “Stop Sucking series” here: http://www.amazon.com/Paul-Philip-Carter/e/B007VCZZ64/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1