Thursday, February 3, 2011

My review of Greg Egan's Zendegi at H+ Magazine

My review of Greg Egan's Zendegi is online at H+ Magazine. The novel describes a possible scenario for the early development of mind uploading technology.

In 2012, the Australian journalist Martin is in a politically troubled Iran at a time of major changes, and the young Iranian refugee Nasim is in the US working as a computational neuroscientist in the Human Connectome Project. 15 years later, both Martin and Nasim live in Iran. Martin is married to a woman he met in the first part of the book, and they live with their young son Javeed... when Martin becomes terminally ill he asks Nasim to upload him to [the virtual world] Zendegi so he can continue to be present in his son’s life. They only want to build a credible emulation for Javeed, but others supports the project because they see it as a precursor of uploading and personal cybernetic immortality... Read the rest at H+ Magazine.

After writing this review I have started reading again the first part (Iran in 2012), with a description of a popular uprising against the theocratic regime, which is eventually brought down. It is quite similar to what is happening now in Egypt. The governments shuts down the Internet and cell phone systems, and the citizens react by creating ad-hoc mobile mesh networks. The government tries to shut off these as well, and the citizens react with more and more ingenious solutions.

It is bad to see governments at war against their own citizens, but I am afraid we will see more and more of that, and not only in the “developing world”. There is now a very disturbing trend – that big governments and big corporations now want to control the Internet much more. I have written a short article on this, with links to some countermeasures that we citizens should begin to adopt.