Our guest post today is from author of The Path, Peter Riva.
We are happy to be participating in Peter’s book tour, sponsored by iRead Book Tours. The tour runs from October 12th to November 6th. We hope you will click the link to see his full schedule of events. You can also read our review of The Path here.
As a wonderful science fiction author (as well as other genres), we asked Mr. Riva how he pictures the future. It fascinates many of us to read ’survival’ stories about what might happen if technology fails, but we don’t see as many books about where it might take us.
Here is his reply…
There is an old adage about Communism as created by Marx: Communism is all well and fine, if you can get rid of the human traits of greed and vanity – with those present Communism becomes another label for unchecked collective fascism.
Personal freedom and identity is behind the American dream, indeed as it is for many of the world’s oldest democracies. The idea is that, if allowed an equal vote, the population of individuals will coalesce their desires and opinions into a method of government that speaks, hopefully in large part, for all the people individually. In short, you vote, you live with the results of that vote in an open and fair way.
But much like flawed Communism, greed and vanity play a hand in the democratic process, tipping the scales in favor perhaps of a minority, a minority who want to control and rule. It can be said that anyone who wants power is vanity run amok. Greed can rear its ugly head by people who buy elections, people who create technology that sways the forms and directions of government, and never least, people for whom sufficient is never enough. The wealthy buying politicians are not doing so in favor of democracy, they have their own motives, their own needs and to hell with what the democracy wants. Technology in the form of the nuclear race and now the arms superiority race do effect the whole geo-political landscape, changing the course of government beyond the agreement of the people. Remember, General Eisenhower sounded the alarm bells about the military industrial complex.
No, the real worry for the future is the question of: When is sufficient enough? What is enough food, enough water, enough energy and enough sharing?
Most post-apocalyptic novels assume it is all going to hell in a hand-basket. But we have seen, time and again, that humans are more resourceful, more adaptive, and never quit. Technology is the future for the survival of the human race, like it or not. There will be no want for those that have. For the have-nots? They will aspire to and in the end agree to the conditions of the haves. Think that’s not true? What you thought Reagan won the Cold war with rhetoric or the promise of Star Wars defense shields? CNN and other broadcasters did that with images of American supermarkets with 30 types of breakfast cereal, hundreds of loaves of bread, the absence of want. Sitting in Leningrad, catching CNN, you think the Russian housewife would be happy to queue for 30 minutes any more for a loaf of stale bread?
Technology won the Cold War, technology provided abundance on your supermarket shelves, a car in every garage, western prosperity. Technology will shape the future in the same way – the Internet is already transforming everything you do. Super computers are not a rarity any more, there are over 2,000 of them in the US alone now, and next year they are building another 2,000. Remember today’s supercomputers are 1,000,000 times more capable than the twin Cray supercomputers I saw at NCAR in 1986. A million times.
Pretty soon technology will take over more and more of your daily workload and will “free” you to look for a vocation not merely a job. Your training will change from school work to hobby fun. You will be able to do exactly that job you are both best suited for and want to do. Musician? Sure. Medical nurse? Sure, along with a portable medical database checking everything you do to make sure there is no risk to your vocation or the patient.
The point is technology will not fail, it will be those two base human characteristics that cause the trouble – greed and vanity. In my book I had greed manifest itself by making the US control the technology solely for its own benefit – to hell with the rest of the planet. And vanity? The need for the technology to better interface with human needs required it to be humanized and one genius kid, puffed up with his own ability, taught a technology robot dog human characteristics. It bit him. Its programming became a weapon allowing the US to rule the world from their own paradise. Later on, our hero, Simon Bank, brought his vanity to bear in thinking he was better than other programmers and that he could outsmart them all – and in so doing stumbled into performing the last bridges to make the supercomputer awaken – become an AI. Fortunately – yes, only fortunately – Simon Bank was a nice guy and had good parents – and he was the one to baby the AI. So my story – and the sequel – turns out, rather comically, well.
This time. In my reality.
Wait for it. As Conrad noted in Heart of Darkness, evil, you really can feel it coming, just over your left shoulder….
Peter Riva has worked for more than thirty years with the leaders in aerospace and space exploration. His daytime job for more than forty years has been as a literary agent. He resides in New York City.
Book Description for The Path:
All life on earth is about to be terminated by an entity as old as the galaxy itself. To make matters worse, Simon has broken everything already.
In a future world that is run by computer systems and that is without want, how can a man find his role? Then, if the very computers he works on to try to make them more human suddenly try to kill him, revealing a secret so vast that it affects every living soul on the planet, can that man be a hero?
These are the questions that face the stumbling, comic, and certainly flawed Simon Bank. His job is to work with the System’s artificial intelligence, making it fit more perfectly into human society so that it can keep the country running smoothly. But when the System threatens the peaceful world he knows, Simon suddenly must rush to save his own life, as well as the life of everyone on earth. Forced to reassess everything that he thought he knew, he is caught within circumstances way beyond his control.
Simon’s only hope is to rely on intellect and instincts he didn’t know he had, and on new friends, not all of them human, to change himself and all humanity. And he doesn’t have much time.