Friday, May 18, 2012

No Going Back
My favorite publisher, Baen, is running a contest this month to promote the Jon and Lobo series by Mark Van Name. Jon is a freelance courier/fixer/mercenary. He has teamed up with Lobo who is an artificially intelligent spaceship and combat assault vehicle who has a dry sense of humor and cynical view of mankind.

The contest is for the best essay on the subject:  What would you do if you could have Lobo for a day?

Here is my entry

Most of us don’t know very much about the workings of the technology that make our lives possible. So if a human, even a extraordinary human like Jon, from a technologically advanced civilization visited earth for a day there would be a limited amount of useful science and engineering he could convey. But Lobo is a different matter. He probably has all sorts of memory capacity given the other abilities he has displayed. Maybe he has some school text books stored in memory. (After all I have have some on my Kindle, just ‘cause, well,... I could.) At very least his own tech manuals and the algorithms he uses to predict his own and others known combat capacity could be analysed to figure out all sorts of fascinating principles. He’s smart and intuitive enough to know what might be useful to me and with his hacking ability he should have no problem figuring out a way to download it to my computers.
Overthrowing Heaven
So the first thing I would do would be to ask Lobo to perform such a download of all the delicious data. (“You’ll be preforming the good deed of spreading knowledge and creating interesting chaos at the same time! What’s not to love, Lobo?”) Of course the information wouldn’t do me that much good without the ability to digest and develop it, and I couldn’t do a good job of that by myself. So the next thing I would do would be to call a bunch of friends who know something about technology or related fields and beg them to drop everything and come meet Lobo for themselves. I’ll want them to interact with him so they don’t think I’m crazy to believe in this data but are instead willing to invest their own time and effort in making a tangible difference with this information.
Jump Gate Twist
I’d be in a hurry to get this done, because if possible, I’d want them to have time to reach out to their own network of friends and have them come over (or be picked up, a spaceship buzzing around silicon valley, picking up employees on their lunch break? “Oh, that must be just Google’s latest extravagance.”) for their own experience of Lobo. I wouldn’t be able to keep control of most of the information. It’s unlikely the I would be the main, much less the sole, center of attention in the resulting fervor. But by being willing to share and displaying openness some of the people I’m friends with would be willing to share back and take me along for the ride. And the discoveries we would make in that data would be an adventure, not just for a day, but just possibly, for a lifetime.

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