Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Lifecycle of Software Objects - Ted Chiang

Novella

Number of words : 31000
Percent of complex words : 11.3
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 22.7


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 13.6
Flesch : 54.4
Flesch-Kincaid : 11.3



PEOPLE

Ana Alvardo

An ex-zookeeper and now software trainer and tester working with digients at Blue Gamma until they fold.

Robyn

A friend of Ana's who gets her a job with her employer, Blue Gamma.

Pongo

A digient with a chimp-like Avatar.

Derek Brooks

A designer for Blue Gamma, and becomes a friend of Anna's. Becomes owner of Marco and Polo. Has a thing for Ana.

Jax

A digient whose avatar is an old-fashioned copper robot. Becomes Ana's.

Lolly

A digient with a lion cub-like Avatar.

Mahesh

One of Blue Gamma's owners.

Marco

A digient with a panda-like Avatar. Becomes Derek's.

Polo

A digient with a panda-like Avatar like Polo. Becomes Derek's.

Zoe Armstrong

A digient owner.

Natasha

Zoe Armstrong's digient.

Andew Nguyen

A digient owner.

Natalie Vance

A digient owner.

Coco

Natalie Vance's 'Lolly' digient.

Tibo

One of the oldest digients aside from the mascots.

Carlton

The beta tester that owns Tibo.

Wendy

Derek's wife for a time.

Zaff

A digient with a jaguar cub-like Avatar.

Helen Costas

A digient owner.

Stuart Gust

A digient owner.

Nytti

A digient that gets copied for torture thanks to a crack.

Lisma Gunawan

A digient owner that builds a private island for digient safety.

Andro

A digient trained by his owner Bryce Talbot to act as his personal assistant.

Bryce Talbot

Andro's owner.

Maria Zheng

A digient owner.

Voyl

A Sophonce digient that has been incorporated and given legal status.

Gerald Hecht

A lawyer, and Voyl's owner.

Kyle

Ana's boyfriend.

Felix Radcliffe

A Xenotherian digient project devotee.

Jennifer Chase

The spokeswoman for Binary Desire, who offers the Neuroblast digient user group a deal worth considering.

Roland Michaels

A Binary Desire Employee.

Jeremy Brauer

An Exponential Appliances employee that talks to the digient users.

Frank Pearson

An Exponential Appliances employee that talks to the digient users.


TECHNOLOGY

Next Dimension

A virtual environment.

Data Earth

A virtual environment used by the Neuroblast digients and their users.

Neuroblast

An engine for running artificial intelligence development on Data Earth.

Origami

An engine for running artificial intelligence development on Next Dimension.

Faberge

An engine for running artificial intelligence development on Anywhere.

Anywhere

A virtual environment.

Real Space

A new virtual environment.

Sophonce

An AI engine that is good for producing obsessively focused digients which can be used as workers.

Data Mars

The platform for the Xenotherian digients.

InstantRapport

A drug designed to increase bonding.


MEDIA

Age of Iridium

An online multiplayer computer game.

Elderthorn

An online multiplayer computer game on Data Earth.

Oribus Tertius

An online multiplayer computer game on Data Earth.

Siege of Heaven

A new Data Earth game continent.

Five Dynasties

A Data Earth game continent.

Jerk Vector

A hovercar racing game in Data Earth.


ORGANISATIONS

Blue Gamma

A technology company working on Artificial Intelligence as a product, particularly AI companion/pets. Employers of Ana and Derek while they existed.

SaruMech

A company that makes robots that can be used to embody digients.

Information Freedom Front

An organization that lobbies for the end of privately owned data.

Daesan Digital

The company that runs Data Earth.

VirlFriday

Maker of appointment-management software, interested in AI that can perform these functions.

Visma Media

Creator of the Real Space platform. They merge with Data Earth.

Edgeplayer

Marketer of a digient torture chamber.

Binary Desire

A company that makes sex dolls in all forms.

Exponential Appliances

A company that makes robots.

Polytope

A company that wants Ana to work for them as trainer, but with her using InstantRapport.

RACES

Digients

Artificial Intelligences.

Drayta

A Sophonce digient who’s skilled at solving the logic puzzles found on the gaming continents.

Xenotherians

Digients designed to be tentacled aliens.


PLOT


Ana is unemployed, an ex-zookeeper who has retrained as a software tester recently. A friend comes along with a job offer that uses her previous animal training skills - working with artificial intelligences to get them into shape to be sold as pets that can learn.

The entertainment software industry is tough, and raising pets isn't all fun and games like putting on magic armour and chopping things up as any pet owner will know. That is, people get tired of them, and get rid of them. In the case of AI, you only have to push a button though, not dump them, kill them or have someone else put them down.

When the company she was working for shut down some keen enthusiasts such as herself and Derek adopt some of the digients they were working with - Jax the little robot guy in her case, and Marco and Polo the pandas in the case of Derek. Over the years they keep working with their 'pets', who become more and more mature and knowledgeable about the outside world thanks to trips in robot bodies.

When the platform they were built on becomes old tech and lagging, and this company is taken over by someone bigger and newer, the digients are stuck in a ghost town, with their friends both AI and human moving on. The Neuroblast digient user group doesn't have the resources or talent to write a port for them, and they are unable to get enough corporate interest in their hard sell wishes.

That is, until a company that wants AI for sex companions comes along - and this is where they have an advantage, having the oldest and most human seeming digients around. Jax, Marco and Polo themselves are wanting to be more reponsible for themselves, too, and make their own mistakes and incorporate so they have legal status. The decision is, should you let them now, or not, especially if they have decided they want to, so they can rejoin the rest of the world online with a financed port.


4 out of 5

http://subterraneanpress.com/index.php/magazine/fall-2010/fiction-the-lifecycle-of-software-objects-by-ted-chiang/

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