The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

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What's the best way to create artificial intelligence? In 1950, Alan Turing wrote, 'Many people think that a very abstract activity, like the playing of chess, would be best. It can also be maintained that it is best to provide the machine with the best sense organs that money can buy, and then teach it to understand and speak English. This process could follow the normal teaching of a child. Things would be pointed out and named, etc. Again I do not know what the right answer is, but I think both approaches should be tried.'

The first approach has been tried many times in both science fiction and reality. In this new novella, at over 30,000 words, his longest work to date, Ted Chiang offers a detailed imagining of how the second approach might work within the contemporary landscape of startup companies, massively-multiplayer online gaming, and open-source software. It's a story of two people and the artificial intelligences they helped create, following them for more than a decade as they deal with the upgrades and obsolescence that are inevitable in the world of software. At the same time, it's an examination of the difference between processing power and intelligence, and of what it means to have a real relationship with an artificial entity.

About Ted Chiang

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Ted Chiang lives near Seattle, Washington.
Published July 31, 2010 by Subterranean. 150 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Lifecycle of Software Objects

SF Site

With his first 8 stories, he has won the Campbell New Writer Award in 1992, a Nebula Award for "Tower of Babylon" (1990), a second Nebula and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for "Story of Your Life" (1998), a Sidewise Award for "Seventy-Two Letters" (2000), and the Locus Award for "Hell Is t...

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Bookmarks Magazine

Over the last two decades, Ted Chiang has gained a reputation in SF circles as an innovator in short fiction.

Nov 22 2010 | Read Full Review of The Lifecycle of Software Obj...


One of the best books I read in 2007 was Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life: and Others , a collection of science fiction tales.

Dec 28 2010 | Read Full Review of The Lifecycle of Software Obj...

Strange Horizons

Unlike in Chiang's novella, however, Egan's new life forms become more like ghosts or revenants than chimps or puppies, and the ethical issues Zendegi raises ultimately take on a more unsettling character.

Nov 15 2010 | Read Full Review of The Lifecycle of Software Obj...

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