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Guest The Vidiot
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Permutation City asks whether there is a difference between a computer simulation of a person and a "real" person. It focuses on a model of consciousness and reality, the Dust Theory, similar to the Ultimate Ensemble Mathematical Universe hypothesis proposed by Max Tegmark. It uses the assumption that human consciousness is Turing-computable: that consciousness can be produced by a computer program. The book deals with consequences of human consciousness being amenable to mathematical manipulation, as well as some consequences of simulated realities. In this way, Egan attempts to deconstruct notions of self, memory, and mortality, and of physical reality.

The Autoverse is an artificial life simulator based on a cellular automaton complex enough to represent the substratum of an artificial chemistry. It is deterministic, internally consistent and vaguely resembles real chemistry. Tiny environments, simulated in the Autoverse and filled with populations of a simple, designed lifeform, Autobacterium lamberti, are maintained by a community of enthusiasts obsessed with getting A. lamberti to evolve, something the Autoverse chemistry seems to make extremely difficult.

Related explorations go on in virtual realities (VR), which make extensive use of patchwork heuristics to crudely simulate immersive and convincing physical environments, albeit at a maximal speed of seventeen times slower than "real" time, limited by the optical crystal computing technology used at the time of the story. Larger VR environments, covering a greater internal volume in greater detail, are cost-prohibitive even though VR worlds are computed selectively for inhabitants, reducing redundancy and extraneous objects and places to the minimal details required to provide a convincing experience to those inhabitants; for example, a mirror not being looked at would be reduced to a reflection value, with details being "filled in" as necessary if its owner were to turn their model-of-a-head towards it.

Within the story, "Copies" – digital renderings of human brains with complete subjective consciousness, the technical descendants of ever more comprehensive medical simulations – live within VR environments after a process of "scanning". Copies are the only objects within VR environments that are simulated in full detail, everything else being produced with varying levels of generalisation, lossy compression, and hashing at all times.

Copies form the conceptual spine of the story, and much of the plot deals directly with the "lived" experience of Copies, most of whom are copies of wealthy billionaires suffering terminal illnesses or fatal accidents, who spend their existences in VR worlds of their creating, usually maintained by trust funds, which independently own and operate large computing resources for their sakes, separated physically and economically from most of the rest of the world's computing power, which is privatized as a fungible commodity. Although the wealthiest copies face no financial difficulties, they can still be threatened because copies lack political and legal rights (they are considered software), especially where the global economy is in recession. Hence they cannot afford to retreat into solipsism and ignore what is happening in the real world.

At the opposite end from the wealthy Copies are those who can only afford to live in the virtual equivalent of "Slums", being bounced around the globe to the cheapest physical computing available at any given time in order to save money, while running at much slower speeds compared to the wealthy Copies. Their slowdown rate depends on how much computer power their meager assets can afford, as computer power is traded on a global exchange and goes to the highest bidder at any point in time. When they cannot afford to be "run" at all, they can be frozen as a "snapshot" until computer power is relatively affordable again. A Copy whose financial assets can only generate sufficient interest to run at a very slow rate is stuck in a rut because he/she/it becomes unemployable and is unable to generate new income, which may lead to a downward spiral.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permutation_City

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  • 3 weeks later...

Getting back into my reading after spits and spurts over the last decade. Which I regret. Just ordered The Road, Dark Tower 1 &2 and The Wasp Factory. I’m sure you know who the authors are. Gonna start with Wasp.

 

 

1 hour ago, prdctvsm said:

still olny 1/2way thru epic 'the stand by stephen king 

 

Just found out yesterday that there is a new version of The Stand that is even bigger than the original which I read when I was a teenager. Will check that out when I’m up to speed with my reading.

Edited by beerwolf
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Dune Messiah. Paul is such a naughty boy. 
 

and 

 

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Which is great. Typical of Buruma’s style of writing history, so wonderfully engaging. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/3/2022 at 2:48 AM, chenGOD said:

Dune Messiah. Paul is such a naughty boy. 
 

and 

 

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Which is great. Typical of Buruma’s style of writing history, so wonderfully engaging. 

I found this copy of that at work this week

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(donated books are piled up on the wings at random and I go around at night picking out decent ones)

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“Sun Ra: Art on Saturn” is the first comprehensive collection of all Saturn printed covers, along with hundreds of the best hand-designed, one-of-a-kind sleeves and disc labels, decorated by Ra himself and members of his Arkestra. Essays by Sun Ra catalog preservationist Irwin Chusid, noted Ra scholar John Corbett, and Glenn Jones, who in the 1970s signed Ra to a distribution deal that put countless homemade covers into circulation, add unique insights into the interplanetary life and work of Sun Ra and his Saturn partner Alton Abraham.

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3 hours ago, zero said:

how do you like it? I've read most all his stuff, will give this a shot at some point.

p f decent; an unresolved post modern tragedy. q different from the little 've of read of him but w his usual flair for language, description & story telling. sorta reads like dfw x'd w. tim wynton. 8/10. a companion novel/addendum 'stella maris' ft. same characters is 2b published sn

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Currently reading Against The Day by Thomas Pynchon, 400 pages in and fascinating so far.

Edit: wow just noticed the first post of the thread contains Against The Day as well, ha. Weird.

Curious to see the top 5 or so fav books from members on here if anyone feels up to sharing?

Edited by Cyteen
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