Colony

In the near future mankind has successfully expanded throughout the solar system. Having permanent settlements on the inner and outer solar planets, humankind looks to create a home around an alien star. One thousand humans have volunteered for the one way trip to the new world, assisted by state of the art machine intelligences. Disasters, natural and human made, disrupt the carefully laid plans and force the settlers to reconsider their relationships, and their relationships with the machines that serve them.

This is a science fiction story exploring the what interstellar settlement might look like. It also explores trends in machine intelligence and how we might interact in a situation where machines and people are dependent on one another for survival.

The story takes place over the span of 150 years, tracking this settlement from leaving Earth to it’s arrival at Gliese 832 c, a potentially Earthlike exoplanet orbiting a red dwarf star sixteen light years away. The story tracks the society as a whole, but initially follows the perspective of the machines assigned to watch over the trip, since it would take far too long for a human crew to make the journey without some sort of hibernation. Accidents force the machines to do some independent thinking, which seems to be the direction of capability A.I. is advancing towards. When the colonists enter the scene, they find themselves on a more or less even footing with their caretakers.

The story explores some trends in artificial intelligence. Some of the characters are expert systems, not different at all from the chat bots and robo callers we use today. Other characters are more advanced - genuinely thinking, learning and capable of empathy at a human level. Even more advanced, some characters have advanced beyond human intellectual ability - and I try to explore what that might look like and how (or if) people can relate to it. Within the human characters, I also wanted to explore trends in man machine interface to see how it might better enable those human characters in their situation. The world these characters end up inhabiting is familiar, but different. The ecology has a dramatic effect in the environment, balanced on a knife edge of habitability. The characters learn early the need to carefully consider their development and its environmental impact.