Wednesday
Jun262013

Book 3 finally out

Well, I finally managed to finish up Book Three and get it online. Here's the Amazon URL: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DN7E3CI/.  This book finishes what is really Part One of the story, which includes discovering the black hole, and establishing the issues around humanity's response.

This book's subtitle, Volition, reflects a focus on what might happen if we really had something like the cognitive enhancement med MNI-3, and/or Hedonic Tone Modulator, which prevents lengthy excursions outside a designated interval on the pleasure↔displeasure spectrum. This type of technology has tremendous potential for both good and harm, and it's been fun and interesting to try to come up with a plausible scenario for how people might respond to this sort of thing.

There has been a lot of recent activity around the importance of neuroscience, for example, the BRAIN initiative, the EU's Human Brain Project, and the Allen Brain Atlas. This is entirely appropriate, since when it comes down to it, having a healthy body is no good without a healthy mind to enjoy it. As Emo Phillips put it, "I used to think my brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. But then I thought, look who's saying that!" If I had to pick one, "Mens infirma in corpore sano" (Sick mind in a healthy body) sounds far worse than "mens sana in corpore infirmo," though of course the two are not completely separable.

In any case, it's difficult to say how close we are to developing something like the devices in this story, but the basic ideas are sound, I believe. Systems like MNI-3 and HTM can, and eventually will, be created. The benefits will be tremendous, but so will the dangers. Our characters have their work cut out for them trying to handle these tricky questions, as will we, in our world, soon enough.

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