Sunday Afternoon in the American Suburbs
Tue, 30 Jun 1998 11:49:11 -0700 (PDT)

Of the many claims about post-"Breakthrough" technological futures I've
come across, the one that has seemed to me the most outrageously
implausible is Ed Regis's suggestion (following Bernard Williams) that it
would resemble Sunday afternoon in the American suburbs. The thing I like
least about Jim Halperin's generally fine and very rewarding novels --
especially _FI_ -- is that he provides a vision of the future that comes
close to Regis's suburban singularity. It is interesting that he manages
to avoid the more plausibly implausible weirdnesses of Vinge, Banks,
Williams, and Nagata by making a few, imho, wildy counter-extropic
stipulations, most conspicuously the ideas that 1, we can keep AI and SI
under wraps by legislative fiat, and 2, that "total honesty" is
technologically enforcable and socially beneficial (not to mention
philosophically coherent in the first place). I enjoyed Halperin's novels
quite a lot (and of course they make fabulous and sorely needed
immortalist propaganda), but was I alone in thinking that provisos 1 and 2
enabled Halperin to sidestep many of the thornier problems we are likely
to confront in the next five decades? Best, Dale