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Author Topic: Writing Project: A Brave New Internet  (Read 1962 times)

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Offline Scrasamax

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Writing Project: A Brave New Internet
« on: April 09, 2012, 09:19:48 AM »
So I have been working on a new major writing project. I have pretty much abandoned my previous work on a novel. It was ridden with cliches and conceptual problems since most of the core structure was composed when I was in High School. No point in rewriting Lord of the Rings.

So, the new project is futuristic, and you can get glimpses of it in the ScrasTech and Cthulutech stuff I have written for the Citadel.

I am looking effectively at what would be either the third or fourth generation of the internet (We are currently in the first generation)

I want to mix some of the following elements into it:
The Matrix: An entirely online virtual world, but without brain spikes, or dipping over into the Max Headroom zone, or the cliche of being trapped in the magic chair. School would be an online environment, teachers would basically be computer programs. Malls and shopping centers are online environments, and ditto for employees working in said stores. Online shopping becomes a hands on approach and as much as a way to kill time as to buy things. It's about 1/10th Matrix, and 2/5ths Amazon and Google, 1/2 Star Trek Holodeck.

Total Recall: Artificial vacations, no need to go to the airport when you can jack into the net and go anywhere you want, provided you have the money and can deal with artificial scarcity (The Martian Tahiti beach vacation is super popular and while the servers can handle 10,000 users a day, they are limited to 100. The vacation becomes exclusive and expensive.)

Tron: Instead of Light Cycle you can load and actually participate in games, be it RPGs (WoW) racing sims, FPS games, etc. Entire leagues exist for playing digital sports, and fighting games and war games can take on a gladiatorial note, be the subject of betting, etc.

Surrogates: The Bruce Willis movie wasn't all that great but the idea of piloting a robot body via remote but have it be a first person experience is fascinating. Works for handicapped people, the terminally ill, people in danger of assassination (is that the real president, or just him operating through a proxy body) The network allows for using these types of machines for easily dozens of applications (underwater work, mining, working in toxic environments, dealing with horrible horrible diseases, and in the darker applications, remote piloted infantry fighting along side robot tanks, UAVs and smart bombs.

This idea I feel has a lot of merit, but it needs a name, something better than VR or 'online'. The idea I had was that it is a Cognizant Network, the master computers that organize and control the system are self aware, and most of the software has an organic organization and it self correcting for the most part. So, the idea I had was that it is commonly known as the CogNet or simply 'the Cog' as in we're going shopping at the Cog, or gonna go run a few rounds of MW25 on the Cog this afternoon, or that guy spends most of his time slumming eWhores on the Cog.

I could use some input on this project, and thanks


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Offline Dozus

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Re: Writing Project: A Brave New Internet
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2012, 10:31:07 AM »
John C. Wright's trilogy "The Golden Age" features a far-future Internet with variations of the things you mentioned. There it's called the Mentality. What about "the Cognition"?

I highly recommend the novel, by the by. If you're interested in this sort of thing, it's right up your alley.
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Offline Scrasamax

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Re: Writing Project: A Brave New Internet
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2012, 01:00:31 PM »
John C. Wright's trilogy "The Golden Age" features a far-future Internet with variations of the things you mentioned. There it's called the Mentality. What about "the Cognition"?

I highly recommend the novel, by the by. If you're interested in this sort of thing, it's right up your alley.


I'll keep an eye out for it. I don't like the word 'Mentality' because it just makes me think of a bunch of British kids doing handbrake turns in their $1000 hatchbacks.


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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: Writing Project: A Brave New Internet
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2012, 09:45:06 PM »
Here's a little tidbit - the original meaning of "online" had nothing to do with the internet. It was about information being available electronically. Until its old COBOL-driven bones were retired a few years ago, our old mini computer (mini as in only the size of a server rack rather than a big mainframe) still referred to its built-in documentation as "online help." I bring this up because old terms will often get repurposed without the upcoming generation being any the wiser. It is purely within the realm of believability to take some existing terms and change how they're used. There are plenty of other examples of this, such as "hacker," which used to mean someone who could come up with clever solutions to problems rather than the malicious souls we see today (see the jargon files.) So I wouldn't give up on the terms we use now; instead, I would focus on how they could evolve and what could come after.

Of course, the marketing droids will always be looking for buzzwords to use. A few years ago it was Web 2.0; now it's "The Cloud" (taken, by the way, from the cloud shaped picture used to portray everything outside of a diagram of a network.) Some names come from large corporations or standards bodies with no personalities and are generally descriptive. Others come from creative types, often in education, and are meant to be jokes or geeky references. I'll spare the details (unless some masochistic soul wishes to know) but the point is that there is no monoculture that gives names to things and it can be tricky to predict what will ring a chord with the population at large. The important part, though, is to dig a little deeper for a name. I like the sound of the Cog but it doesn't ring true in my mind.

On the other hand, I do think the ideas portrayed are certainly valid and I would love to see them developed (in reality and fiction/subs.) I do have one pet peeve about the way some of this has been looked at before. The first is that when someone is plugged into VR (as in the Matrix) their minds wouldn't go anywhere. Rather, they would be experiencing induced hallucinations. Forcefully unplugging someone could certainly cause extreme disorientation. But death? Not unless there was some sort of electrical surge that fried their brains from a forced disconnect. A corollary to this (and I'm looking at Shadowrun here) is that there is a difference between the physical layout of a computer or network and how it would be perceived, as one's mind is not physically traversing the wires and signals of the Internet. Also, the farther one goes afield, the higher the lag as signals are sent back and forth between the subject and the destination, making for slower perceptions and reactions to what transpires.

Anyway, I'll stop here.
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Offline Scrasamax

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Re: Writing Project: A Brave New Internet
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2012, 10:34:44 PM »
It's that elusive name that hasn't been born yet that's so hard to grasp.

As for the Inescapable Chair it is a trope I hate, because it is so artificial. If you unplug he, he will diiiiiiIIIIIIIiiiiieeeeeeeeeeee

I think it would be more like the fall inducing waking up used in Inception, or like suddenly waking up from a dream that you won't forget.


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Offline Scrasamax

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Re: Writing Project: A Brave New Internet
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2012, 11:01:16 PM »
So, internet is a massive series of nodes and supercomputers and server farms.

Each arcology (especially the residential models) would be hosting their own internal server farms and central nodes. This would extrapolate into each arco having it's own .arc domain.

ArcNet, the Arc...

This could go on to reaching someone for contact isn't going to be by a residential address (ewww, hardcopy) but by their ArcAddress.

JOHNSULLIVAN3662@Pontiac.arc

ruminating


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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: Writing Project: A Brave New Internet
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2012, 11:25:23 PM »
It's been a few years since I read it, so I could be twisting things up a bit, but I remember something n Tim Berners-Lee's book Weaving the Web where he talks about the concept of geographical boundaries being subsumed by idealogical ones. People would no longer identify as American or Russian or whatever, but more by their interests. This was back in the 90s but I think that this has happened to a degree. Look at the Citadel. Here we are, a bunch of strangers from around the globe, brought together by a shared interest.

Now many nations are fighting this trend by putting up boundaries (the great firewall of China, for instance) or even working on their own, disconnected Internet (Iran) in order to keep their cultural/religious/whatever from being influenced by all these outside ideas. What might this struggle look like in the future? It could go different ways, depending on whether you want something dystopian or utopian or even something in between (maybe the struggle lives on.)

One possible outgrowth of this with so much VR would be a culture where no one has to care which Arcology you live in; instead they focus on which groups or ideologies you identify with. You may never physically meet your friends. Maybe you don't even speak the same language with computers doing flawless, real-time translation (sidenote - a few weeks ago I used google translate on my Android to communicate with my Mandarin speaking neighbors; it wasn't perfect but it worked. Living in the future is awesome.) Or maybe every culture has been watered down and everyone speaks Esperanto or some other such language.

Also, how has the anonymous vs online identity vs real identity sorted out? Would I be known as MysticMoon wherever I went (how I hate it when I register with some other site and find that name is already taken) or is there some sort of forced real ID that gets used (sort of how Facebook and G+ work) with criminals offering fake online IDs?

Have the media companies won and users get automatically debited every time they play or happen to overhear a song? Or have all the big corps been torn down by the great meritocracy of the Internet? Maybe there are no more larger than life stars and every group has its own icons. There are so many ways to experience the Internet now. Imagine what it will be like as time progresses.
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Offline Scrasamax

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Re: Writing Project: A Brave New Internet
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2012, 08:29:30 AM »
I like the idea of a developing online culture that surpasses real world culture, I can imagine people identifying more with some online race (Looking at WoW Night elves) than their actual race. There are still boundaries, but instead of 200ish some odd countries, there are maybe 12 (and they are much bigger) and language can be seen as less of an issue. Gov't Propaganda and Cultural Paradigm Control can be used to make sure that some aspect of local and national culture remains. There is plenty of room for Big Brother is Watching, Room 101, and subliminal messaging.

As for criminal activity, Hacking stops being a single action is becomes spread out into a variety of offenses and degrees of action, ranging from willful and malevolent hacking to misdemeanor vulgar behaviours and indecent activities. False IDs, online theft, online assassination, online murder.... so much room for interesting actions!

As for companies, as nations are subsumed into the SupraNational power blocs many corporations are nationalized, or themselves grow to become megacorporations. The ending of so many local borders make expanding easier. So there follows, with the explosion of virtual companies (Zynga) eventually there will be Virtual MegaCorps and having dealt with non-concrete concepts (music) the media companies are in a good position to to become a dominant power. Not all of them, just the 2-3 that survive.


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Offline Chaosmark

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Re: Writing Project: A Brave New Internet
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2012, 02:46:39 PM »
On the other hand, I do think the ideas portrayed are certainly valid and I would love to see them developed (in reality and fiction/subs.) I do have one pet peeve about the way some of this has been looked at before. The first is that when someone is plugged into VR (as in the Matrix) their minds wouldn't go anywhere. Rather, they would be experiencing induced hallucinations. Forcefully unplugging someone could certainly cause extreme disorientation. But death? Not unless there was some sort of electrical surge that fried their brains from a forced disconnect. A corollary to this (and I'm looking at Shadowrun here) is that there is a difference between the physical layout of a computer or network and how it would be perceived, as one's mind is not physically traversing the wires and signals of the Internet. Also, the farther one goes afield, the higher the lag as signals are sent back and forth between the subject and the destination, making for slower perceptions and reactions to what transpires.

Assumption: the brain is still the central processing location. That's not necessarily valid; part of the setup might be that your consciousness is actually running on the nearest brain-node. So in a very real sense, if you unplug someone, they can't reinhabit their body. They'd become stuck in the net, a digital consciousness without a body to go back to until it's re-connected and they can find it again.

Which brings up interesting questions of digital authentication: if we're to the point that we can translate consciousness in and out of our physical form, then anyone can inhabit anyone else's body. So part of your digital avatar would be an insanely-encrypted key that lets you authenticate and reinhabit your body. What happens when some digi-thugs mug you and destroy your key? See above body-less avatar description.
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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: Writing Project: A Brave New Internet
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2012, 03:21:47 PM »
Assumption: the brain is still the central processing location. That's not necessarily valid; part of the setup might be that your consciousness is actually running on the nearest brain-node. So in a very real sense, if you unplug someone, they can't reinhabit their body. They'd become stuck in the net, a digital consciousness without a body to go back to until it's re-connected and they can find it again.

But this is exactly the part I just don't grok. What is meant by moving the consciousness outside of the body? Consciousness is a broad term for all the electrochemical processes occurring in the brain. It wouldn't make sense to halt those processes while being jacked in because the user would die anyway. And how do you "move" something like that into a computer? I see jacking into the matrix as using some sort of stimulation to directly affect these processes so that the user experiences controlled hallucinations. If this were fantasy and the topic astral projection, I would get it. The spiritual/magical construct of the consciousness leaves the body. Cut the astral cord or destroy the astral body and the person dies. When it comes to shuffling electrons or radio waves around, though, I think in more material terms. Personally, I blame Tron and William Gibson for this trope (while still being a huge fan of both.)

Like I said, this is one of my pet peeves.
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Offline Chaosmark

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Re: Writing Project: A Brave New Internet
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2012, 04:19:11 PM »
But this is exactly the part I just don't grok. What is meant by moving the consciousness outside of the body? Consciousness is a broad term for all the electrochemical processes occurring in the brain. It wouldn't make sense to halt those processes while being jacked in because the user would die anyway. And how do you "move" something like that into a computer? *snip* When it comes to shuffling electrons or radio waves around, though, I think in more material terms. Personally, I blame Tron and William Gibson for this trope (while still being a huge fan of both.)

What I mean by "moving consciousness outside of the body" is to, through some method, replace those electro-chemical processes with electrical equivalents that run on hardware instead of the brain's wetware. There are a large number of technological issues with doing it, which is why we don't currently have Uploading capabilities. However, presuming that there isn't some form of Cartesian Duality going on and the mind really is just a set of electro-chemical processes, there's no reason why those processes can't be migrated into an electrical format; presumably the neural jack handles the switch-over process (I envision it to be something like switching over the neural pathways from biological portions to mechanical portions; the responses to the rest of the brain remain the same, but it's now the signal generators are running on hardware instead of wetware). Once they're running on hardware, what's to prevent them from running on hardware that isn't located in the body?

Of course, you wouldn't need (or want) to migrate ALL the processes over to the mind-node hardware; a large portion of those are purely dedicated to maintaining physical form. Those you leave, but the ones that form the core sentient mind (what we mean when we talk about who a person is) are moved over. Likely the neural-jack hardware that you're implanted with would handle "maintenance" signals to the portions still running on the wetware, keeping you alive.

I do believe I should write this entire concept up in full detail...
P(A|B) = P(B|A)*P(A)/P(B)

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