Re: LIT: Culture

Guru George (
Wed, 2 Apr 1997 21:43:59 GMT

On Tue, 1 Apr 1997 15:39:40 -0800 (PST) (The Low Golden Willow) wrote:

>Someone (Eugene?) noted that the future would be more like Vinge than


'Twas me. Banks is a great writer in the page turning sense, and full
of interesting and amusing conceits, but he does have a good old Red bee
buzzing around in his bonnet.

I dunno if the Culture could stand co-existing with other Beyond
cultures, at least not the way Banks describes it. In fact, isn't
Consider Phlebas about that very thing: a conflict between a kind of
hold-out-for-individualism culture and the Culture? Those Culture AIs
are just too damn bossy!

Actually there is something rather stirring about the idea of the
Culture as the final fulfillment of Marxist prophecy. ("Imagine, the
old guy was right after all!") It is also terribly Scottish, a Scottish
form of socialism, that Banks upholds. I know this because I was once
of exactly the same mind. There's something about Scottish people in
general that is kind of naturally collectivist, voluntarily collectivist,
in a friendly but robust way.

Certainly, the key point about the Culture, its tremendous technological
ability, its power beyond measure, couldn't be *arrived at* by a
socialist path, since technological *progress* is a function of the kind
of utility testing that only capitalist cultures allow. But perhaps
something like the Culture could be maintained once a given technological
lift off point had been attained (esp. in AI), and could progress well
enough. I suppose competition effects could be modelled in networked AIs
beyond a certain stage of development: for example, imagine that there
were subroutines that used spare resources across the entire network to
model competition process continuously, reporting results every now and
then to the AIs that set the processes in motion, so they wouldn't even
have to think about it, just let the processes run.

Darwinism all the way up and down.

I suppose if we're going to get machines to look after us and drop the *
necessity* of work, the Culture's as good a vision of that as you could
hope for. But Banks is always wrestling with the inherent boringness of
such a situation.

Guru George