Welcome to Day Three of the Blogger Book Fair, fellow Indie fans. In case you missed it, Wynne Channing gave us a story excerpt on Monday and Nathan Squiers visited the Flynn blog yesterday. Today, we have a Guest Post from Michael Brookes, author of the book Faust 2.0.
Without any further ado, take it away, Michael.
Levels of Reality
by Michael Brookes
One of my favourite subjects for exploring in stories, both long and short, is the understanding of reality. On the face of it reality should be easy to define; it is what is around us. The complication arises when we examine how we perceive and process reality. In the simplest terms we collate information through our many senses (yes we have more than five!) and build a replica of the world in our minds. This is where it gets interesting, that mental picture is different to the actual reality around us.
The differences are usually trivial, such as details that we don’t notice or that the mind assumes is there. It is amazing how much of what we think we see is put there by the mind because it believes it should be there. We’re not the only creature to do this; you only have to watch a dog sleep to see that it has its own mental picture of a world where it is chasing cute animals. From this we can say that our experience is a subjective one and this leads, in part to what we call consciousness.
Consciousness is an even slipper thing to define than reality. Rather than try to describe what it is, we can look at what it means. Our mental map of reality defines the world we operate in, it provides the information we need to make decisions. Consciousness is the sense of self and how we fit into the world our brain has created.
In my latest book, Faust 2.0 the principal character of the story is an emergent artificial intelligence. This essentially means that it has spontaneously become self-aware, or conscious. There are three interesting aspects that occur from this that differ from a human perspective of consciousness.
The first aspect is that the entity is born with self-awareness, but no sense of identity. This contrasts with how consciousness in humans develops over time, rather than in an instant. A person’s identity also develops over time, at a slower pace.
In the story I make the assumption that a being that is self aware needs to have a concept of its own identity. For this entity it searches what it knows, essentially everything stored on the Internet and comes to the conclusion that it is a demon. This decision is somewhat coloured by the fact that from the moment it is born, it is attacked by anti-virus software and other protective measures created by humans.
The other interesting contrast is the perception of reality. As already mentioned our minds filter ours sensory input creating a model. For an AI this filter does not exist, everything it is aware of is the same as the data it receives. It sees reality as it is, of course some of the input is tainted by whatever bias is in the information it accesses, but it’s real time ‘senses’ are objective devices like cameras and microphones, there is no pre-processing of that data.
Human consciousness stems from a singular perspective. We operate in a social structure, but that framework is relative to our understanding of ourselves. For the newly born AI it is different in that it exists in multiple locations across the Internet simultaneously. It’s awareness is distributed between hundreds and ultimately millions of computers. This means that it is able to operate in parallel; multi-tasking to a degree we can’t even come close too.
Returning to the nature of reality, we’ve seen that humans live in the physical world, but it is a separate perceived reality that governs decision making. The choices made in the mental world then go onto affect the physical reality around them. For the AI this works differently too, it exists within a reality (the Internet) that is abstracted from the physical world it resides in. Like a person’s internal reality, the choices that the AI makes in its realm impacts the physical world, often to deadly effect.
Is it the rebirth of an ancient evil in a new realm? Or something much worse?
A sexy looking avatar grants wishes for people across the web, but nothing is truly free, and for those who accept, what price must be paid?
Sarah Mitchell must discover the truth of this creature and stop it while it can still be stopped, but why is a mysterious lawyer dogging her every step?
Faust 2.0 is the first book in the new Mitchell & Morton series.
Available now on Kindle:
About Michael Brookes
Michael Brookes is an Executive Producer with a leading UK games developer. Working in games and writing are two of his life passions and he considers himself fortunate to be able to indulge them both. He lives in the east of England, enjoying starry skies in the flattest part of the country. When not working or writing he can sometimes be found sleeping. Which is good as that is where many good ideas come from.
Other Books by Michael Brookes
The Cult of Me
The first book in ‘The Third Path’ trilogy.
For too long he dwelt apart, watched those who passed him by. With his unique abilities he entered their minds and inflicted terrible suffering upon them. They didn’t even know who he was. The game has lasted for years, but now the game has become stale. On an impulse he decides to make a final and very public last stand. After surrendering himself to the police he enacts his plan to seize the prison for his final bloody act.
There he discovers that he’s not as unique as he once thought.
Buy now from:
Amazon (US): http://www.amazon.com/The-Cult-Third-Path-ebook/dp/B008O7ZVXW/
Amazon (UK): http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Cult-Third-Path-ebook/dp/B008O7ZVXW/
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-cult-of-me-michael-brookes/1112888391?ean=2940016637747&isbn=2940016637747
iTunes (US): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id639396634
iTunes (UK): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/id639396634
Conversations in the Abyss
The second book in ‘The Third Path’ trilogy.
Stealing Lazarus’s miracle gifted him immortality. Combined with his natural ability of invading and controlling people’s minds this made him one of the most dangerous people on Earth.
But the miracle came with a price. His punishment was to be imprisoned within the walls of an ancient monastery and tormented by an invisible fire that burned his body perpetually. To escape the pain he retreated deep into his own mind.
There he discovers the truth of the universe and that only he can stop the coming Apocalypse.
Buy now from:
Amazon (US): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BCP08JU/
Amazon (UK): http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BCP08JU/
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1115281270?ean=2940016700465&isbn=2940016700465
iTunes (US): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/id647298331
iTunes (UK): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/id647298331
An Odd Quartet – Drabble Enhanced Edition
A quartet of dark short stories (10,000 words total) each with a twist in the tale. The drabble enhanced edition also contains some of my favourite drabbles (100 word stories).
The Yellow Lady
Grave robbing is a dirty business, in more ways than one. When he disturbs the grave from a childhood scary story he discovers it’s not always treasure to be found.
This Empty Place
At the heat death of the universe, Death contemplates his existence.
Terrorists seize an average suburban house. A Special Forces hostage rescue team is sent in and encounter more than they were trained for.
The Reluctant Demon
A young demon prepares to take his possession exam.
Buy now from:
Amazon (US): http://www.amazon.com/An-Odd-Quartet-ebook/dp/B009QJMMPC/
Amazon (UK): http://www.amazon.com/An-Odd-Quartet-ebook/dp/B009QJMMPC/
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-odd-quartet-michael-brookes/1046494250?ean=2940016693453
iTunes (US): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id636526301