Ted Chiang's "The Lifecycle of Software Objects" (novella, free): Training AIs takes a lot of time & commitment
- Bits of it, I think somewhere near the middle, made me smile. Humor is something I don't normally associate with Chiang's work.
- Telling style is so much like those supremely annoying serials Star One shows at prime time: mostly characters talking to themselves & thinking things out loud. Some people have called the style of this story "descriptive" or "concept driven". May be I'd not noticed it in his fiction so far; may be I've seen too much bad TV recently. I won't call it boring - in fact, it quite interesting at many places; but it took me over a dozen sittings to finish.
Story summary.A company called Blue Gamma has invented potentially super-intelligent software AIs ("digients"). They're like human babies living in Data Earth, a virtual world (eventually, their alien cousins will also exist on Data Mars).
They're like souls; they need to wear a body to interact with their environment. Normally as an avatar in Data Earth; can also move to a physical robot.
This is the story of deep attachment Ana Alvarado & Derek Brooks develop for these digitants; Ana is a former zoo keeper hired to train digitants, Derek builds their digital avatars. They'll keep caring for their pet digitants over many years, long after Blue Gamma has folded up & their original software platform is obsolete.
Fact sheet.First published: as an independent book by Subterranean Press in 2010.
Download full text from Subterranean Online.
Related: Stories of Ted Chiang.