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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Review: Accelerando

In this novel [e-book-link], Charles Stross explores the consequences of a Vingian Singularity --- how would one come about, and how could anything resembling human beings survive or thrive in such an environment?

There are a few answers in this book that are worthy of interest, one is the integration of law with computer software and the GPL, an interesting idea (which is not that far-fetched in that many have observed similarities between legal affairs and computer programming). The other is the exploration of a post augmented-intelligence society, and finally a glimpse of what happens when the entire non-fusion components of the solar systems have become themselves intelligent. The result does not seem to bode well for humanity, though Stross does have an excellent explanation for why there aren't signs of intelligent life on the planet.

The novel is written in an extremely jargon oriented fashion, with words like open-source, self-replicating, and neural networks tossed around with any explanation. Geeks and computer science majors will love this book. Others will probably find it a mystery:

The divested Microsoft divisions have automated their legal processes and are spawning subsidiaries, IPOing them, and exchanging title in a bizarre parody of bacterial plasmid exchange, so fast that by the time the windfall tax demands are served, the targets don't exist anymore, even though the same staff are working on the same software in the same Mumbai cubicle farms. Welcome to the twenty-first century.

All in all, a book worth reading for its ideas, if not for its breathless, unrelenting pace.

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