Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Some pointed and sensible literary commentary by Rudy Rucker:

Thought experiments are a very powerful technique of philosophical investigation. In practice, it's intractably difficult to visualize the side effects of new technological developments. In order to tease out the subtler consequences of current trends, a complex science-fictional simulation is necessary; inspired narration is a more powerful tool than logical analysis. If I want to imagine, for instance, what our world would be like if ordinary objects were conscious, then the best way to make progress is to fictionally simulate a person discovering this. Here again I make a distinction. Freestyle thought experiments are quite different in intent and in execution from merely futurological investigations. Freestylists aren't interested in making useful predictions that businessmen can use. We don't care about what might "really happen" in someone's limited notion of the mundane world. The point is to see what could happen in an emotionally meaningful world of if.

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