A SciFi Moment with Toby Weston!
Thanks for doing an interview!
Science fiction authors necessarily spend a lot of time thinking about what might happen. A few standard tropes tend to make their way into the public mindset as well. Of the following more common tropes, which do you think will chronologically come first, and why? Tropes: first contact with aliens, instant (ansible) communication across unlimited distances, teleportation, deep space travel with humans in stasis, colonizing other planets
- colonizing other planets – next 20 years – Go Elon!!
- deep space travel with humans in stasis – next 50 years,.
- teleportation – next 100 years, slower than the speed of light; sending quantum-mind snapshots and reconstructing physical bodies with nano-assemblers…
- Aliens… the
Fermi Paradox, whatever mechanism it employees, seems to be pretty efficient at
removing intelligent life from the universe. I don’t think we will see
intelligent aliens any time soon. I have a nice Fermi Paradox solution which I
will get to in my writing at some point.
- Faster than Light… IRL [In Real Life] I don’t believe that we will ever get FTL.
Fiction is different. As I try to keep my Sci-Fi ‘Hard’, I had to come up with my own sufficiently plausible mechanism… but I am keeping it under wraps as it will feature in one of the later books in the Singularity’s Children universe…
When huge changes in technology occur, they are always accompanied by massive shifts in social aspects of humanity as well. What kind of social impact do you think will happen alongside the next major technological discovery?
If I am right, and if consciousness is the result of a certain type of quantum computation (see my essay What Is Consciousness), then when the Quantum AIs wake up, they will start loving and suffering just like us! All of a sudden, ancient philosophical questions about the self and the soul will become very topical and we will have to do a lot of thinking and probably a lot of adjustments too!
I also believe that the revelation that we share the world with other consciousnesses will force us to take seriously the other sentient minds already around us. I mean of course the animals.
These themes provide major story arc scaffolding to my series. All conscious minds, regardless of biology or technology are all Children of the first Singularity.
Many sci-fi books and movies rely on a unified Earth government in the face of an alien threat. Do you think something like is possible? Are humans capable of coming together to face an external threat or will our inability to get along en masse be our undoing?
Yes. In the face of an out-group, we are pretty good at banding together. This is an evolutionary legacy. With globalization and enlightened humanism there will be no out-groups anymore. As mentioned, I don’t think there will be aliens, so probably we are going to keep bickering and turning destructively in on ourselves. Of course, as soon as we have colonies on other planets, we can go to war with them and everybody will be happy…
What kind of futuristic technology that’s currently being researched fascinates you the most? (Thinking of mentally controlled prosthetics, quantum entanglement, private space flight / tourism, brain augmentation, etc.)
Quantum computers… the possibilities are literally endless. Again, no-spoilers for my upcoming books, but I believe there is a fine line between observing and creating reality… when we manipulate the ‘quantum realm’ we may be playing with fire…