According to my Goodreads stats (which I use to track every book I read), I read 95 books in 2020, which is down slightly from last year (114). Though that includes comic books, which are shorter and quicker to read, plus audiobooks, and I read less comics, so more full-books in all. My increased reading was not due to being stuck at home during quarantine as that didn’t affect my lifestyle much—it’s primarily because I severely cut down on reading Twitter and other online news. I previously wrote about the futility of following the daily news closely, but I still clung to Twitter—a little too much—sometimes a lot too much. I will expand upon how I broke my Twitter addiction in a future post, but suffice it to say, these days I check Twitter just once a day (at night after getting my work done) for only a couple minutes—if at all. This immediately reduced my stress levels and gave me much more time to read more valuable things that will stand the test of time, such as the following books.Continue reading
Self-driving cars are inevitable. Tesla, Ford, BMW, Nissan, GM, Google, Baidu, Apple, Amazon, Uber, Lyft, and many more companies are all working on developing autonomous driving systems for their vehicles. It is not a matter of if, but when. Self-driving automobiles will be ubiquitous in the future. There is one core conundrum with self-driving cars, however. Self-driving cars will only work if there are only self-driving cars.Continue reading
Death by Self-Driving Car is a collection of three short stories about the near-future prospects of autonomous automobiles and their potential impact on society.
“The Autonomous Trolley Problem” is a new spin on the classic philosophical thought experiment. What was originally proposed as an insoluble ethical dilemma may soon need to be solved when programming self-driving algorithms in the real world.
“Redundant Truckers” is about the mass unemployment former truck drivers could face in the wake of self-driving semi-trucks such as those being developed by Uber’s “Otto,” as well as the possibility of Universal Basic Income (UBI) to address that issue.
Finally, the titular story, “Death by Self-Driving Car,” is a Sherlock Holmes-style detective mystery about an insurance investigator hired to look into a rare self-driving car accident that resulted in the death of a human passenger.
Death by Self-Driving Car is now available as an ebook on Amazon, free to read for Kindle Unlimited members. You can also buy the ebook from me directly via PayPal, Cash App, Bitcoin, or other cryptocurrencies at any price of your choosing (including free if money is a problem for you). Just email me with your preferred file format (PDF, EPUB, MOBI) and payment method.
1. The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence by Ray Kurzweil (1998)
Kurzweil is an inventor and futurist famous for his optimistic predictions for technology in the future, particularly the idea of the singularity—when humans will be able to upload their minds to computers and potentially live forever—which he predicts will happen by the year 2045. Kurzweil has his doubters, but it’s hard to dismiss his track record of predictions when you look at how many have already come true in this book written over thirty years ago. Continue reading
It’s ironic that I write science fiction books as an adult considering I didn’t even read science fiction books as a child. Actually, I didn’t read any books at all, other than those assigned in school—which, aside from Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, were never science fiction. I loved sci-fi movies as a child and was captivated by space exploration and future technology, but I struggled with books about those same topics. It wasn’t until later in life, post-college, that I really started to enjoy reading (books in general and science fiction in particular). Continue reading
There are essentially two types of science fiction: hard and soft. Soft science fiction is more like fantasy, not obeying the laws of physics (Star Wars) while hard science fiction aims to be scientifically accurate (2001: A Space Odyssey). I love Star Wars, but my real favorite genre is near-future hard science fiction such as Blade Runner, Interstellar, The Martian, Ex Machina, and Her. I think those kinds of stories—built around accurate science and technological innovations that can conceivably happen in the near future—are perhaps the most important form of fiction. Continue reading
Verisimilitude, or the appearance of being real, is the key to a successful story. It’s what allows one to get completely lost in a narrative and forget it’s a work of fiction. Verisimilitude doesn’t necessarily mean the story must represent the real world as we know it. A story set in a science fiction or fantasy world must also have verisimilitude, or in other words, everything must seem real and believable within the world of the story. While movies may appear to be the more “realistic” medium, I think it may be easier to achieve verisimilitude in books. Continue reading