Tuesday 19 December 2023

Micro-interview with Juliet Kemp

Very pleased to invite Juliet Kemp, author of “Just as You Are” in The Future Fire #67, over for a wee chat.

TFF: What does “Just as You Are” mean to you?

Juliet Kemp: I was thinking about parenting and acceptance when I wrote it. Beyond that I'm not sure I can say it better than I said it in the story…    

TFF: Given what we know about the failings of even the most advanced AI today, how long do you think it will be before we create anything that could be considered alive?

JK: I think this depends on how we define ‘alive’ which is of course hugely complex. Our current definitions revolve around a form of organic bodily life which doesn't necessarily carry over to other potential forms of life. I think something mechanical that can perform appropriate functions to grow, maintain, and reproduce itself, and respond to external stimuli, might not be that far off. Something that's ‘conscious’ or ‘intelligent’ or similar is a more complicated question—and far harder to judge, especially given the human tendency to try to define humans as ‘special’ and therefore exclude other beings (such as ones we already share the planet with) from intelligence or consciousness.

TFF: What is your favourite example of hopeful or fun speculative fiction (in any medium)?

JK: I really enjoyed Ruthanna Emrys’s A Half-Built Garden—I found it complicated but hopeful and fascinating. (I have many other favourites too!)


Jin’s wearing the expression which means they’re desperate to look at my code fork, though it’s probably not conscious. Jin’s lab is the preeminent AI research lab; all those half-dozen person-level AIs are in some way based on the code that we developed here. After the court case that gave the first, Aisha, human rights, we open-sourced the main code branch, figuring it was the only ethical decision. Aisha took control of her own code fork, and the cluster she runs on.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/10/new-issue-202367.html.

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