Friday, July 10, 2020

The Beast Adjoins, by Ted Kosmatka


(AI Apocalypse) A Beast comes to the comet where one of the last humans hides with her son. But she’s prepared a surprise for it—if it works. (8,985 words; Time: 29m)

"The Beast Adjoins," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 07-08|20, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2020.344 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: If you accept the premise, it’s a touching story of sacrifice and loss. It’s also a bit of a horror story.

There’s plenty of tension leading up to the big conflict, and the fight itself is good.

The ending is particularly poignant, as it has become clear just what the sacrifice was.

Con: It doesn’t seem like she’s done anything new; she’s essentially programmed an ordinary robot with a copy of her son’s mind. Why weren’t ordinary robots good enough in the first place?

More seriously, the story is based on a misunderstanding of what it means to “observe” a quantum system. The “observer” doesn’t need to be human or intelligent. It’s sufficient to have it “observed” by an instrument—or even another particle. This use of “observer” is one of the worst terminology choices in all of physics.

A small but annoying thing: The idea that scientists would seal a transcript from the public because it was too disturbing is absurd. Only conspiracy theorists believe scientists do things like that.

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