Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ted Chiang on his writing technique, sf vs fantasy, & some other things

In an interview with Avi Solomon at Boing Boing:

  1. How does he write a story?
    Write a para near end, then the beginning, then scenes at random places, then connect these scenes backward & forward.
  2. A practical way to differentiate between science fiction & fantasy: In the universe of the story, are some people special to the Universe? E.g., only they can turn "lead into gold", & no one else. That's fantasy. If, on the other hand, the Universe is impersonal - doesn't grant special privileges to a few people, where anyone, even an industrial process could turn "lead into gold", now that's science fiction.
  3. Training an AI is a separate problem than creating it, & is likely to be as complex.
  4. For engineers involved in the development of human interfaces of things: "a kind of emotional relationship with software can be very appealing to people."
  5. An AI not located inside a physical body is likely to have cognition so different from us that it might as well be an alien.
Related: Stories of Ted Chiang.