Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 (almost) gone already? Whoa! Whiplash!

Year's end is, traditionally, a time for reflection, for looking both forward and back. I'll do the same here -- trying not to compile the kind of things you'll find on other sites. No blah-dy blah blah blah "Best of" or "Worst of" lists here!

Cool stuff ;-)
So what will you find? As in the image at left, cool stuff!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tis the season ...

... to be Really Busy.

I get the math. I do. We're all adding end-of-the-year deadlines, end-of-the-year festivities, and (the worthwhile subset, anyway, of) last New Year's unfulfilled resolutions to our daily routines, commitments, and aspirations. (I am still making headway on the new novel in progress. Thank you for asking.) Still, even more than usual, I can't help but wonder: where does the time go?

All of which is to fess up that I'm more pressed than usual to feed my blogging habit. Many regular visitors here, I suspect, likewise find themselves busier than their norms. Put it all together and this isn't the occasion for a long post.

Some of you will be in a reading and/or shopping mode. I'll refer you to three recent posts Spread the meme: Buy-a-Book Saturday! (it's never too late to buy a book, especially an ebook), 2015 Best Reads, and -- because I find this so amusingly quirky -- Robots and Descartes and Shakespeare, oh my! What's not to like?

Art by Dean Spencer
"A Stranger in Paradise"
I'll end with a graphic by the mega-creative SF artist Dean Spencer. This is hardly the traditional celestial image of the season, but it's been a favorite artwork of mine since its 2007 appearance in the late, lamented e-zine Jim Baen's Universe. The image illustrates (and was based upon) my novelette "A Stranger in Paradise." The story remains available online, without charge -- click that illo -- for your enjoyment. (Assuming, of course, you somehow have the time ;-)  The link will be here, waiting.)

(The novelette headlines one side of my 2010 flip-book collection, Countdown to Armageddon / A Stranger in Paradise. There's more about that book, should you be curious, on my authorial website.)

Happy holiday(s) of your choosing!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Life (if not the universe and everything)

 Is life what it used to be? Maybe not.

Beware VR?
To begin, virtual reality is new, and at least some VR implementations have the potential to trickle over -- nastily -- into real reality. That overlap may involve interaction with human biology.

Samsung, maker of the Gear VR headset cautions:
... that people should stop using the Gear VR immediately if they experience seizures, loss of awareness, eye strain, nausea or "any symptoms similar to motion sickness." In addition, the device is not recommended for children younger than 13.
See more about the risks at "Samsung Gear VR: Virtual Reality Tech May Have Nasty Side Effects." (Posting in December about a February article? Am I kidding? No. It's timely if VR headgear is potentially on your holiday shopping list.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Typing fast and furious ...

... but on the emerging novel that's getting Extra Super Interesting, not a new post.

Most of you who visit here (my last survey demonstrated) also read my fiction. I hope -- and trust -- you'll indulge me for a few days while I concentrate on the book. There'll be a payoff, I assure you, once it's finished :-)

A burst of creativity?
Still, I wouldn't ever want your dropping by SF and Nonsense to be a disappointment. I think you'll enjoy the following Seriously Cool Things:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A potpourri

Given the widespread reporting on Google's self-driving cars and Tesla's recent foray into autonomous driving (and with a dollop of wishful disregard for recent incidents of wireless automotive hacking), you may have fond thoughts of upgrading sometime soon to such vehicular luxury.

Look, Ma, no hands!
Maybe think twice. Navigation and lane following may require only (comparatively) simple "narrow AI" tasks, the associated algorithms reasonably robust and perhaps nearing maturity. Not so, the ethical dimension of driving.

For example, suppose that a deer just darted in front of my car. Do I purposefully endanger myself by ramming the deer? Or do I veer, and in the process endanger pedestrians or other drivers? For a machine to make such judgment calls -- on a case-by case basis, in the split-second during which such decisions must be made -- would seem to require mastering general (aka, human equivalent) AI. See: "Why self-driving cars remain more science fiction than future."

Sorry if that was a downer. Here, let me make it up to you with some out-of-this-world (literally) news.