Out in the rural peace of the Kent countryside lies Policetown, a mock-up English town used by London’s Metropolitan Police force for training purposes. [Via Subtopia]
The modern law enforcement specialist needs thorough training to cover all potential eventualities. So Policetown includes houses, pubs and nightclubs, fake train and subway stations … and even a faux airport, complete with truncated aircraft fuselage for simulating hostage situations. [image by FeelGuiltyInc.]
Leaving aside issues of cost and effectiveness, there’s something fabulously Ballardian about the idea of a fake town, for whatever purpose. I wonder how apparent its falseness would be if you were to accidentally drive through it on your way elsewhere? And I wonder how many other fake towns and buildings might be out there that we don’t yet know about …
If I could choose one science fiction author in whose head-space I could spend a lengthy holiday (equipped with copious note-taking equipment and a barrel of synaptic cognition enhancers, naturally), Rudy Rucker would be my first choice by a country mile. Despite having a justified reputation as a quirky and colourful writer, he’s a ferociously smart guy. [image by JonDissed]
Here he is debunking the Singularity – or at least the “even better than the real thing” Singularity that some people advocate – by explaining that no Virtual Reality will ever be able to simulate Real Reality accurately, because Real Reality is already running on an incredibly complex and rich computational substrate:
“VR isn’t ever going to replace RR (real reality). We know that our present-day videogames and digital movies don’t fully match the richness of the real world. What’s not so well known is that computer science provides strong evidence that no feasible VR can ever match nature. This is because there are no shortcuts for nature’s computations. Due to a property of the natural world that I call the “principle of natural unpredictability,” fully simulating a bunch of particles for a certain period of time requires a system using about the same number of particles for about the same length of time. Naturally occurring systems don’t allow for drastic shortcuts.”
Rudy Rucker – substantial proof (if proof were needed) that science and hippiedom are two sides of the same coin. There’s masses of free fiction and non-fiction on his website, by the way.
Online video game magazine The Escapist, home to the hilariously funny animated review column Zero Punctuation, has the theme of space for its 136th issue. They talk about why the starfighter genre appears to have died down since the heyday of X-Wing vs Tie Fighter and Wing Commander and about how science fiction is, although often set in the future, a commentary about now.
Although the space combat genre is in a lull right now, space strategy and so called ‘4X’ civilisation games are enjoying some underground success thanks to the efforts of indie games publisher Stardock, which produced the critically acclaimed Galactic Civilisations II last year. Its latest release, Sins of a Solar Empire, came out this month and combines Real Time Strategy elements of controlling fleets of spacecraft as well as exploration and colonisation. Currently holding a very respectable 87% average on Metacritic and impressing this writer enough to squeeze it into my schedule, games like this and Will Wright’s forthcoming evolutionary Spore are showing that maybe there’s a future for space in video games after all.
[Sins Of A Solar Empire screenshot via IGN]
Our posts about genetic engineering always accrue some interesting comments, so let’s see what Futurismic readers think of this: researchers at the University of Illinois have engineered a new form of plant that produces more leaves and fruit without any need for fertilizers, by tweaking the enzymes used in the photosynthesis reaction.
Don’t get too panicked, though – the plant only exists in a computer simulation so far. And that’s the interesting question, as far as I can see – will we be more trusting of re-engineered life-forms if they’ve been tested exhaustively in virtual form before being created in the real world? [Link via Our Technological Future] [Image by 4x4jeepchick]
[tags]biology, engineering, photosynthesis, simulation[/tags]
Will McIntosh (author of previous Futurismic stories “Eyelid Movies” and “The Existential Cure”) brings us a provocative story about sex, commitment and the power of fantasy to take on a life of its own. If you’re likely to swoon at the mention of naughty bits, read no further.
Echoes In Evening Wear
by Will McIntosh
Rick was ready to explode, and she hadn’t started taking her clothes off yet. “Turn around in a circle,” he said to the hologram. She turned slowly, gracefully, her black heels making no sound on the hardwood floor.
She looked exactly like his coworker Melissa. Exactly. He took a few steps toward her, then a few more, until he was looking into her green eyes from a foot away. From close up you could notice just the slightest graininess to the image. Otherwise she looked perfectly real. Continue reading ECHOES IN EVENING WEAR by Will McIntosh