Kiss My Singularity, Says Author Rudy Rucker

Computers will become self-aware and smarter than humans. And Baby Boomers will live forever. That's the basis of the Singularity, which predicts that technology will accelerate so rapidly that we'll be like gods in twenty years. Rudy Rucker's new novel deals with a world where the Singularity has already happened, called Postsingular. He used to mock the Singularity, but now he's become a believer because it opens up so many awesome story ideas. Just look at Postsingular.

There's a great moment after nanomachines have covered every single object on Earth, tagging everything with information but also connecting it to the network. Rucker's protagonist Ond is coming up with soaring calculations and theorizing in his head. But then he disconnects from the Orphidnet and finds he can't remember what he was just thinking about. Those thoughts are like web links when you're not on the Internet. Without even realizing it, his mind has been using the Orphidnet's extended capabilities.

And soon afterwards, the nanomachine start tagging extradimensional beings that have been sneaking into our world for centuries without being detected.

Some people call the Singularity "the rapture for nerds," but that's "a defensive move," Rucker argues:

[It's] saying: "These maladjusted loser posthumanists are so desperate for the world to change and fit them in that they worship this singularity just like outsider fundamentalists hoping for the End Times to come and give them a chance at success." Some people feel a little hostility towards the notion of the Singularity. Like something that's being forced on you. And it's a little annoying to see a middle-brow popularizer like Ray Kurzweil writing a best-seller about the Singularity, and to see organized Singularity conferences.

Rucker used to agree with those Singularity-haters. But Charles Stross' novel Accelerando changed his mind and made him see the story possibilities of a post-Singularity world. Some science fiction writers kept insisting they couldn't write about such a strange future. But that's what science fiction is for, Rucker argues, and Stross was already doing it.

Hence Postsingular, Rucker's attempt to go past the "heavily touristed landmarks" of the Singularity into what happens next. Now he's working on the sequel, Hylozoic, which includes talking rocks and telepathic atoms. "Keepin' it weird," he says.