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    "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Aquila ka-Hecate » 12 May 2011 06:51

    SandChigger wrote:Funny, but I don't remember Frank Herbert writing anything about the machines taking over and deciding to exterminate the human race. Could somebody give me a quote on that? :roll:




    The possibility of it happening.

    That one scene in the desert with Siona at her testing: the humans crouched cowering in caves from the ravening machines..

    ..or that's how I recall it.
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Freakzilla » 12 May 2011 07:24

    Aquila ka-Hecate wrote:
    SandChigger wrote:Funny, but I don't remember Frank Herbert writing anything about the machines taking over and deciding to exterminate the human race. Could somebody give me a quote on that? :roll:




    The possibility of it happening.

    That one scene in the desert with Siona at her testing: the humans crouched cowering in caves from the ravening machines..

    ..or that's how I recall it.



    I believe that was a vision of a POSIBLE time that would have come to pass had Leto not chosen the Metamorphasis.

    Why would Leto show Siona a vision of pre-Butlerian Jihad times to win her over to his side?

    He was trying to show her "why he did what he did".
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Aquila ka-Hecate » 12 May 2011 07:30

    Freakzilla wrote:I believe that was a vision of a POSIBLE time that would have come to pass had Leto not chosen the Metamorphasis.

    Why would Leto show Siona a vision of pre-Butlerian Jihad times to win her over to his side?

    He was trying to show her "why he did what he did".


    Yes, that's exactly how I understand it, too.
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby SadisticCynic » 12 May 2011 08:22

    A Thing of Eternity wrote:I'm with you Chig, I think the power of nano-tech lies in materials technology, not invisible robots. That said, nanotech mall allow for some near-nano robots. They may never be microscopic, but I could very easily see things starting at roughly the size of spiders, then one day being down small enough that they just look like a speck.

    Nanotech for medicine is already in the works, but it's not robots, it's more about just making structures that latch on to other things, like seeking out cancer cells and then blocking sites where nutrients come in (if I recall correctly, it's been a while since I read up on it).


    That sounds quite a bit like viruses. I guess one could call those 'nanobots' if one was feeling generous with terminology.
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Freakzilla » 12 May 2011 08:34

    I see us going in two directions from here, mechanical (Ixian) and biological (BT).

    It's only a matter of time before we understand DNA well enough to make our own creatures. At the atomic and molecular scales, it seems to me that the difference between biological and mechanical is simply a matter of which raw materials you use.

    Leto also mentions to Hwi that the Ixians contemplated making a self-improving, hunter seeker with a machine mind. I believe these are the machines his metamorphasis prevented the Ixian from making that would have gone out of control and destroyed humanity.

    Is that not close enough to nanobots?

    However, I don't think these machines "took over" and decided to exterminate humans. I think they were designed as a weapon that got out of control.
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby SandChigger » 12 May 2011 10:30

    Aquila ka-Hecate wrote:
    SandChigger wrote:Funny, but I don't remember Frank Herbert writing anything about the machines taking over and deciding to exterminate the human race. Could somebody give me a quote on that? :roll:




    The possibility of it happening.

    That one scene in the desert with Siona at her testing: the humans crouched cowering in caves from the ravening machines..

    ..or that's how I recall it.

    Yes, but that was later, not part of the Butlerian Jihad. :)
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Hadi Benotto » 12 May 2011 11:05

    Freakzilla wrote:I think they were designed as a weapon that got out of control.


    Which is what current scientists working on nanotech fear.

    Freakzilla wrote:Is that not close enough to nanobots?


    Well the previous hunter-seeker was 5cm in length. Nanotechnology deals with structures sized between 1 to 100 nanometre in at least one dimension so no? It's possible, but than again it was an emerging technology when Frank wrote the books so he might not have know too much about it. Would Leto have been able to counter a mechanical intruder like that? Would he have been able to change his internal chemistry enough to fight them off? If you have an enemy that's designed to kill your DNA, would he have been able to literally change his DNA to fight them? Did he have that kind of power? I know RM's can change poisons, and alter their body chemistry, but would this have been within their realm to change?

    If the Ixians kept enough of their pre-Jihad research, or had enough ghola masters around who retained that type of knowledge, do you think it would've taken them 10-15k years to develop a nano-based HK?
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Hunchback Jack » 12 May 2011 12:04

    Watson's Postulate: Never mind turning trash into oil or asteroids into heaps of Volkswagens, or hanging exact copies of Van Goghs in your living room, the first thing we get with nanotechnology is immortality.

    Tesler's Corollary: The first thing we get with nanotechnology is the resurrection of the dead.

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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Sardaukar Capt » 01 Nov 2011 11:12

    Hadi Benotto wrote:Yeah, I've tried piecing together how the term cymek could've come about, and when I think about it I just kind of stare into oblivion...

    Of course whenever I think about the cymeks I can't help but immediately think of the B'omarr Monks from Star Wars. You saw them in the scene in Return of the Jedi where 3P0 and R2 come inside Jabba's palace, they're walking towards the camera as the door closes behind them. As the door closes, this robot spider, with a brain canister hanging off the bottom, passes in front of the door scaring 3P0.

    I know Star Wars took some Dune elements, so I guess turn about is fair play? Maybe the hack didn't think anyone would notice? I just don't know.

    One does have to wonder if machines do gain sentience, will their first thought be to exterminate us? It seems that's always the way writers paint the picture; machine can think for itself and automatically comes to the conclusion that they're better off without us. One of the differences between the Dune universe and our current reality, at least the way I like to picture it in my head, is that when the machines rose to power, gained awareness, the amount of integration between man and machine was much much greater. I think nearly everything would be autonomous and computer controlled, to a much greater degree than we are now which would facilitate a much easier transition of take over.

    Of course our current civilization is moving that way now, but it's still a heck of a long way off from that potential future.



    When I started reading McDune The BJ, what I first thought of when I saw the "Titans" and Cymeks was that KJA had ripped off William Dietz's Legion of the Damned. (If anyone hasn't tried it, its a fun military SF read). Well first thought was... WTF did Frank put in his "notes" the idiot son supposedly found? Was he senile at that point or something... then the epiphany struck me that KJA is pretty much doing these on his own and vaguely following established Dune canon from the books let alone any notes Frank left. So next logical step in my mind was what idea(s) did he rip off for these things. :)

    I think setting the story as the machines trying to annihilate humans was derivative and easy (the only way KJA knows) because it's pretty clear from blogs and twits that he does absolutely no research on any subject he's going to write about. So naturally he regurgitates derivative and banal pop-culture depictions of man vs machine like the Forbin Project (where he ripped off Colossus as Omnius) and The Terminator for the whole homicidal machine thing. He must have caught those 2 on Netflix while "editing" the House books and thought ... "FUCK YEAH!!... plot for next Trilogy CONFIRMED!!"

    Given that Frank spent years researching the topics of politics, religion, economics, ecology, and etc for Dune, its easy to see him, if he had lived, doing the same with AI. He would have spent TIME researching the topic and not spent a week brainstorming then go off dictahiking out an entire book on a few treks through the woods. It would have been so interesting and fascinating to see Frank's take on AI and how it ended up devolving humans to the point that a religious fervor ignited that Great Revolt against any type of Thinking Machine.
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Freakzilla » 01 Nov 2011 11:19

    Sardaukar Capt wrote:It would have been so interesting and fascinating to see Frank's take on AI and how it ended up devolving humans to the point that a religious fervor ignited that Great Revolt against any type of Thinking Machine.



    Have you read Destination: Void and the rest of the Pandora Series?
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Sardaukar Capt » 01 Nov 2011 12:54

    No I have't read those. I have stayed away from most of his other books because of a childish worry they might not live up to what Dune has meant to me. But I've put aside and plan to read his other books in the near future.
    The name Atreides was also consciously chosen. It is the family name of Agamemnon. Says Herbert, "I wanted a sense of monumental aristocracy, but with tragedy hanging over them--and in our culture, Agamemnon personifies that."
    Frank Herbert by Tim O'Reilly
    http://tim.oreilly.com/herbert/

    Ghanima said. "We Atreides go back to Agamemnon..."
    Distracted, Irulan asked: "Who's Agamemnon?"

    Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

    WTF? A BG forgets the Titans?! :)
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Freakzilla » 01 Nov 2011 13:06

    Sardaukar Capt wrote:No I have't read those. I have stayed away from most of his other books because of a childish worry they might not live up to what Dune has meant to me. But I've put aside and plan to read his other books in the near future.


    Of course they're not as good as Dune but to me it seems FH worked out a lot of the ideas used in Dune in those other books.
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby JustSomeGuy » 01 Nov 2011 21:04

    Frank Herbert was a good story teller. I am now on a reread of Dune and I know that the rest will follow soon. Frank Herbert didn't use more words than were necessary, and he... I forgot what I was going to say. I have read Dune, Destination Void (I have not been able to finish the last book, but Mr. Herbert wasn't really in on the meat), and the Whipping Star books. He was a good story teller. I have also read some of his standalone books, and have yet to read a work of his I did not like. His books are not perfect, but they're not half bad. I still (sometimes) can't believe that I spend so much of my time on a site dedicated to Dune. It must be a good book... I'll get back into it and let you know later- not that you should care, you know Dune is great.
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby JustSomeGuy » 01 Nov 2011 21:05

    I consider some of his other books to be a part of the "Duniverse." Well, it's possible...
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Freakzilla » 01 Nov 2011 21:46

    An alternate Duniverse, maybe.
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 02 Nov 2011 00:43

    Much of his other stuff can seem more like him musing about subject in the form of writing it down as SF, but the Pandora series is very near to on par with Dune in my opinion - you just have to survive all the technobabble in the first book - OR read that book last, like I did!
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Freakzilla » 02 Nov 2011 08:18

    A Thing of Eternity wrote:... OR read that book last, like I did!


    Don't do that! Don't read the last line of D:V, either. It will ruin it!
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby trang » 02 Nov 2011 09:23

    Freakzilla wrote:
    A Thing of Eternity wrote:... OR read that book last, like I did!


    Don't do that! Don't read the last line of D:V, either. It will ruin it!


    Agree, DO NOT read the last page of DV, it freaked me out at the end and was awesome ( I havent read the other 3 yet) I started collecting all his other works and started with Whipping star/The Dosadi Experiment and they were great ( Frank could have really written a lot of other books with Jorj X. McKie character). The Green Brain wasn't my favorite, but good story. Working on Hellstrom's hive.
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 02 Nov 2011 17:34

    Freakzilla wrote:
    A Thing of Eternity wrote:... OR read that book last, like I did!


    Don't do that! Don't read the last line of D:V, either. It will ruin it!


    That's true, it did kind of ruin the grand surprise of D:V for me - it was an accident though, it's not like The Jesus Incident says it's the second book after D:V anywhere on or in it!

    TJI is very close to my favourite FH writing.
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby machinor » 26 Dec 2015 19:02

    Ok it doesn't fit 100% with the OP, but the thinking machines outside of Dune I associated the most with the BJ-machines are the AIs in the Culture novels by the (great) late Iain Banks.

    The AIs there are basically concious and have superhuman intelligence. And all the peoples and races living in or being part of the Culture are heavily dependant on them for administration, subsistence etc. Also, the AIs form a kind of decentralized, anarchical grass root form of "government" or rather organisation.
    The first novel "Consider Phlebas" even has them fighting an interstellar war against a race of fundamentalistic giant insect jihadis.

    The funny thing is, that although the protagonist in "Consider Phlebas", a kind of face dancer (I kid you not) is fighting the Culture, it and the AIs are not presented to be even slightly sinister. In other words: they are more or less the "good guys", even if that kind of morals or ethics do not really apply to the war presented.
    AND STILL i always kept thinking: "I don't trust you, you vile thinking machine!! Butler was 100% right!!!!!!"

    I have only read two of the ten novels about The Culture and I can highly recommend them.
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Freakzilla » 26 Dec 2015 23:24

    machinor wrote:Ok it doesn't fit 100% with the OP, but the thinking machines outside of Dune I associated the most with the BJ-machines are the AIs in the Culture novels by the (great) late Iain Banks.

    The AIs there are basically concious and have superhuman intelligence. And all the peoples and races living in or being part of the Culture are heavily dependant on them for administration, subsistence etc. Also, the AIs form a kind of decentralized, anarchical grass root form of "government" or rather organisation.
    The first novel "Consider Phlebas" even has them fighting an interstellar war against a race of fundamentalistic giant insect jihadis.

    The funny thing is, that although the protagonist in "Consider Phlebas", a kind of face dancer (I kid you not) is fighting the Culture, it and the AIs are not presented to be even slightly sinister. In other words: they are more or less the "good guys", even if that kind of morals or ethics do not really apply to the war presented.
    AND STILL i always kept thinking: "I don't trust you, you vile thinking machine!! Butler was 100% right!!!!!!"

    I have only read two of the ten novels about The Culture and I can highly recommend them.


    I disagree. Banks presents a utopia, humanoids are aided by the Minds, not enslaved by them. Herbert's worlds are dystopian. Oppressive and repulsive. I don't see the connection at all.
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Omphalos » 28 Dec 2015 18:52

    Freakzilla wrote:
    machinor wrote:Ok it doesn't fit 100% with the OP, but the thinking machines outside of Dune I associated the most with the BJ-machines are the AIs in the Culture novels by the (great) late Iain Banks.

    The AIs there are basically concious and have superhuman intelligence. And all the peoples and races living in or being part of the Culture are heavily dependant on them for administration, subsistence etc. Also, the AIs form a kind of decentralized, anarchical grass root form of "government" or rather organisation.
    The first novel "Consider Phlebas" even has them fighting an interstellar war against a race of fundamentalistic giant insect jihadis.

    The funny thing is, that although the protagonist in "Consider Phlebas", a kind of face dancer (I kid you not) is fighting the Culture, it and the AIs are not presented to be even slightly sinister. In other words: they are more or less the "good guys", even if that kind of morals or ethics do not really apply to the war presented.
    AND STILL i always kept thinking: "I don't trust you, you vile thinking machine!! Butler was 100% right!!!!!!"

    I have only read two of the ten novels about The Culture and I can highly recommend them.


    I disagree. Banks presents a utopia, humanoids are aided by the Minds, not enslaved by them. Herbert's worlds are dystopian. Oppressive and repulsive. I don't see the connection at all.


    Did you just imply that the humans were oppressed by the machines themselves?

    Tsk! :D
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby Freakzilla » 28 Dec 2015 20:54

    Haha, I wasn't trying to! :shock:
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby machinor » 06 Jan 2016 05:42

    Well, what essentially makes Banks' Culture a utopia is that it's a society of "post-scarcity", as he calls it. And as we know, Herbert's Duniverse is all about scarcity.

    But my point was more that true, the AI aid the humans, but if you read the books, very often the AI are the one who are active and organize in a political way. Sure, the scope of an interstellar anarchic ad-hoc-government maybe probably demands an AI. But still the humans of the wider population seem complacent and content with their passivity.
    From the point of a fundamentalistic techno-sceptic human-firster, I can totally see how that would seem as enslavement through hedonism and complacency. So if we assume that the Butlerian Jihad was a total religious war betwen humans/religions as it is implied in the first book, it would be most deliciously Herbertian if the thinking machines actually didn't do anything bad.
    The tabu on thinking machines then is of course the human thing to do:
    "This jihad was terrible, that should never happen again! ... We should make sure to eliminate the cause of it all so that it never happens again... THOSE DEVILISH THINKING MACHINES!"
    "YEAH! ... wait that means we got what we wanted... we WON!"
    "Right! COOOOOL!!!!"
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    Re: "Thinking Machines" outside Dune?

    Postby georgiedenbro » 06 Jan 2016 10:20

    The important part of the Jihad in the Dune universe isn't that the machines did anything bad, but rather that humans using machines enslaved other humans. I doubt very much any version of the future will be bereft of this as we have had proven historically that some percentage of humans always want nothing better than to enslave everyone else if possible. This is as true today as it was 2,000 years ago, and frankly they do it in mostly the same ways. Huxley spoke of the advent of doing so through drugs and technology, which may be employed to a larger extent in the future than it is now, but overall the source of the problem wasn't machines but rather men. The Jihad was a way of disarming men of that tool they employed while attaching alongside a moral about humans thinking for themselves. I think the bottom line according to Frank is not that machines can't be trusted but rather than men can't be trusted, and we see this as well with the ban on atomics; any sufficiently dangerous technology is banned in Dune. The series also points out, though, that banning something is only a temporary solution as you can't hold it back forever. This might be taken to mean that while the Empire stalled things for several thousand years, man would nevertheless eventually have to learn how to safely integrate computers into society one way or another.

    Incidentally I'd say the one weakness of Frank's conception of AI is that I don't think he correctly conceptualized what the capabilities of AI might one day be. I think he thought of machines as being linear-thinking calculators that could do so as a prodigious rate, but that certainly will cease to be an accurate description of what they do in not too long. Once we get into quantum computing and bio-neural circuitry the game will change incredibly, and we're not that far off from opening up these areas.
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