Saturday, February 7, 2015

Let's Get Scientifical #7: Love Does Not Compute

Welcome to Unwritten's February blog event! Of course, this is the month of love, so I wanted to celebrate that theme as I've done in year's past. But this year, I've decided to add a scientific spin to it. All month long, talented authors from several genres will write about some aspect of love from their books as it relates to science. It could be social, psychological, biological, or anything in between. Our blog event is sponsored by "HMC by Kate", a fabulous independent jewelry crafter. Kate's giving away one of her very beautiful necklaces that I think fits our theme perfectly. She's also offering everyone who stops in a 10% discount on any item from her Etsy store. Be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post and check out her lovely offerings! Without further ado, please welcome our guest author:

Love Does Not Compute
John Steiner

It is the passion that overrides reason and, at times, good sense. Love connects two minds and seizes control over their bodies in a fiery moment. We recognize it in people, and as a biologist, I can see how it affects the behavior of animals. Two albatrosses will spend hours clacking their beaks against each other, preening, calls of a language and a dance that is all unique to that pair alone. Love is so strong between two birds that they spend years deciding which partner is right for them, and the rest of their decades-long lives committed to that one special partner.

Yes, love takes more than one conscious mind to fully grasp. Pheromones, facial gestures, movements, all made and picked up on conscious and unconscious alike. We see or hear our special someone and light up that instant. We can’t fathom life without them with us. Half a world away, and they still occupy special corners of our thoughts. Is thought all that it takes?

Maggie is an artificial intelligence with full sentience, which is designated as Self-Ware for legal personhood, who assists in controlling the ISS-454 Mockingbird and other hardware like Humanoid Modulated Robots [HMR] or “Hummers” for short. Stanley Goddard is Mockingbird’s Logician, and his job is the Flipspace Device operator, which is the technology that allows the ship to make use of spatial rotation of tesseracts to cross any distance instantly.

“Stanley, do you recall Mockingbird’s first spatial rotation,” Maggie asked at a near-whisper. 
“Yeah, Maggie, I do,” Stanley answered, still seeing Lonnie’s remains in his mind. 
“You were correct about Self-Ware apprehension,” Maggie admitted. 
Stanley shook himself out of it, to be sure he heard right. Self-Ware programs didn’t often invoke the word “I” or otherwise refer to themselves in first person. It was a phenomenon in Self-Ware that human psychologists puzzled over, though it was established that the digital entities experienced something parallel to emotions. 
“I figured as much,” Stanley explained to Maggie, “because Khronos wasn’t thrilled with it either. Other AI’s on the original Flipspace R and D program exhibited the same hiccup. We later found out it was a manifestation of anxiety, even though they weren’t
tasked to manage the technology.” 
“It is due to the risks it poses,” Maggie pointed out, though Stanley knew already that. 
“You mean because a flip outside a quantum computer can destroy your Planck sequence continuity,” he observed. 
“You are experiencing an analogous phenomenon,” Maggie replied. “When the particle emission damaged the Reactor Room, the anxiety of the spatial rotation occurred again. 
“Maggie?” Stanley stopped her there, “Are you saying you were scared for me?” 
“That is correct, Stanley,” the Self-Ware replied. 
Stanley himself developed a tremor and cold sweat whenever he thought about the Spectre attack and the secondary mayhem it brought to the Reactor Room where he was. 
“Mr. Goddard,” Cob spoke over comms, “We need some help on this hatch.” 
Maggie had kept the Hummers moving, as half the group moved onto salvage. The other half were on their way back to Mockingbird, with Maggie’s patrol escorting them. However, if Stanley guessed right the AI was too distracted to manage more than the walking and sensor sweeps of the machines. Only now, did he realize Maggie addressed him as Stanley, not Mr. Goddard. 
“Yeah, sorry Cob,” Stanley apologized after clearing his throat. “I’ll get that.” 

-excerpt from Flipspace 7: Shades of Jade


John Steiner earned his Associate of Biology at Salt Lake Community College, where he is currently working as a tutor in math and chemistry. He exercises an avid interest in history, science, philosophy, mythology, martial arts as well as military tactics and technology. 


This beautiful handmade necklace from HMC by KATE


  1. Interesting post. It always made me wonder why as humans, with superior intelligence, can't be as loyal as a bird. :)

  2. With songbirds we know the motive and the considerations they take.

    Female birds want a male who will stick with them on the nest, but the most desirable males are less inclined to do that. So some females sneak off to one male, and have the other help raise the young. When the nesting male catches her, he chases her away from the nest to raise them himself- even if its not his clutch.

    Males are just interested in siring as many young as possible, and ensuring they reach maturity. Some males will sneak off to other females, even if they're mated to a female at one nest. However, when the female catches him she destroys the nest and the eggs.


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