Archive for May, 2010

Merging of Man and Machine

May 31, 2010

In my book, Prison Earth – Not Guilty as Charged, I present robots as a useful tool and assistant. There are some who predict that humans, and virtually any advanced race of people, will eventually become robots, or at least androids with an organic brain implanted in an artificial body. After all, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to extend the length, and quality of their life for hundreds, possibly thousands of years? Break your arm? A replacement part will be available at the nearest parts store. A burst appendix? Never happen because you no longer have one. Run a marathon in 26 minutes without breathing hard!

Technology will eventually make such things possible, but I’m not sure it is that simple. Ignoring the moral implications, the process of moving to a machine body, no matter how sophisticated, removes us from our organic self. This is a huge part of what makes each of us unique. While the feedback from our bodies can be approximated, it would move us closer to being robots. That could lead to government control. If a particular mood or thought tends to produce “negative behavior”, what will stop them from simply wiping it out? Do we really trust our government to determine what we should or shouldn’t feel or experience? Do we want them to turn us all into mindless sycophants?

In addition, such predictions ignore how the organic brain processes input. Studies of amputees shows many continue to receive “ghost” feelings from the amputated appendage long after it has been removed. Will signals from artificial limbs, no matter how sophisticated, mimic those signals enough to be accepted as organic?

Even if we overcome this issue, unless we have a government program to give everyone artificial bodies, — again we have the government-control issue — won’t this create an even larger gap between the haves and have-nots? In a society that abhors the idea of athletes taking steroids and other performance enhancers, how will we accept artificial bodies? Just because mechanical devices perform more and more of our menial tasks, does it mean we will eventually want to be part of them?

For those in need of artificial limbs, I encourage our scientists to work for a solution that will allow them to live happier, more productive lives. However, the idea of humans merging with machines is not going to take hold in my lifetime, if ever.

As one of my computer science teachers was fond of saying, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

Amen to that.

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – Not Guilty as Charged


It’s Official Now!

May 29, 2010

I recently learned that the BEA (Book Expo America) had Barbara Streisand as their keynote speaker. Would have liked to have seen that. I suspect it will do wonderful things for her book sales.

Even though I didn’t attend, I’m excited about BEA. My recent placing as Finalist for Science Fiction in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards competition means my book will be in the catalog they hand out to 7500 book buyers, librarians, and publishers. This could be the big step up I need to get onto the national stage. Of course, I’m going to have to do a lot of work to keep the momentum going.

Maybe next year, I’ll be the one on the stage at BEA. I’ll gladly share it with Ms. Streisand, as long as they don’t ask me to sing. THAT would be truly embarrassing!

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – Not Guilty as Charged

A Visit by Aliens

May 16, 2010

There they were, strange-looking creatures of every shape and style. Some with many arms, others with many heads, still others with…no head???

No, I wasn’t on the planet Zenon, or using hallucinogens. This was on planet Earth, at the UFO Fest in McMinnville, Oregon. I’d gone to McMinnville to sign books at the Third Street Books store, but who could resist the wild parade of other-worldly entities parading past their front door. Even pets got into the act, and seemed to be enjoying it as much as their masters. (Or maybe the four-legged creatures were the masters over their bipedal companions.)

The sidewalks were packed with onlookers as the parade rolled, walked, hopped, and wiggled by. Many of those watching were a sight to behold as well. A friend fell in love with a pair of Space Ballerinas. (Pictured here.)

I was thrown into a Dr. Seussian mood:

There were strange looking creatures of all shapes and all styles,
And I watched them in wonder for a very great while.
There were tall blue Warpillians, and short brown Stumpillians,
A black-caped Darth Vader gave me the silly-willians.

Four-legged masters lead their bipedal pets,
And dancing Space Ballerinians, quite light in their steps.
But the best thing about it, and I’ll swear that it is true.
All these alien creatures got along with the likes of me and you.

Though the streets were crowded with all kinds of life,
There was no pushing, or shouting, no grumbling, or strife,
Or fumbling, or fighting, or poking, or yikes!
Just a diverse group of people expressing their likes.

So calling all presidents, religious leaders, and such.
Please come and take notice. At least do that much.
If we can’t come together. If we can’t stop the hate.
What chance has humanity? Oh what is our fate?

What do you think?

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – Not Guilty as Charged

McMinnville, OR UFO Fest attendees

McMinnville, OR UFO Fest Space Ballerinas

With Jessica Maxwell (Roll Around Heaven) at Third Street Books

Third Street Books signing with friend, Jessica Maxwell (Roll Around Heaven)

Next Generation Indie Awards

May 8, 2010

In February, I decided to enter the Next Generation Indie Awards to see how my first novel, Prison Earth – Not Guilty as Charged would fare against the best of the best. The Indie Awards accepts books from independent book publishers or authors. To give some scale to this you must realize that there were over one-million titles published worldwide last year. Of those, more than 3/4s were by small publishers or self-published. That is a lot of competition.

Today I was informed that I am a finalist for the competition. Each genre has one winner and three finalists. According to the Next Generation Indie Awards web site, “Any books named a winner or finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards are considered the “cream of the crop” and are held in high regard.”

Now that’s got to make your head swell!