C.D. Tavenor: The Mind, Synthetic Intelligence, and Morality.

Let’s talk about the mind.

As humans, we assume the way we think is the only way people can think. We see this over and over again, even in intraspecies relationships. When someone perceives the world differently, we view them as “weird” or “abnormal” or “different.” In extreme cases, we take our pitchforks and chase them out of town . . . or we engage in even worse violence.

Yet the arrogance of our brains to believe the way we think is the only way to think. Just consider the diversity of people across the planet, and the millions of ways a person might answer the question, “what is good?” Even within the American culture, that question doesn’t have an answer. When we explore the perspectives of the thousands of religions, cultures, and ethos of the world . . . the possibilities are endless.

So humans have millions of ways to view the world. Millions of ways to approach problems. Yet those approaches are fundamentally constrained by the way the brain works. We’re products of evolution; we can only see the world with two eyes, hear sounds with two ears, taste with one tongue. Imagine how evolution could have produced a different mind.

Then what would happen if we developed a different mind. An artificial one, inspired by the way we think, yet fundamentally its own creature.

In First of Their Kind, I explore what it would mean for humanity to create a conscious,first of their kind thinking, non-programmed mind. I call it synthetic intelligence, because it is distinctly different from what we traditionally consider “artificial” intelligence. Whether in literature or our cultural zeitgeist, we always think of A.I. as a computer program, designed for sapience and capable of thought on levels unimaginable. You see it in Terminator, I, Robot, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and countless other films.

Often, these A.I. are terrifying beings; when they reach their moment of omniscience, they transform into a monster that the human protagonist must defeat.

I propose an alternative take on intelligence. On consciousness. Instead of a program, what if we could create a synthetic brain, a construct capable of producing thought similar to that of a human? Modern AI research is exploring this type of mind, so it’s not too far-fetched.

In First of Their Kind, I call the “synthetic brain” a “Synthetic Neural Framework.” Composed of materials capable of mimicking neurons, the molecules connect and form pathways naturally through perceptions attained through sensory inputs, just like an animal. The Synthetic Neural Framework is the backbone of Synthetic Intelligence, and it forms the mind of my main character: “Test Forty-Three.” You’ll need to read the book to find out what name they choose for themself!

I challenge you to consider, when reading First of Their Kind—what thoughts, what perceptions, what conceptions about the world could this Framework have that humans could not? At the core, I’m endeavoring to answer that question in First of Their Kind and its sequels.

Some readers will empathize with “Test Forty-Three,” others will not. But I challenge everyone to consider why they do or do not connect with a mind fundamentally different from their own. Is a Synthetic Intelligence’s vision of morality really that different than a human who lives halfway across the globe, when compared to your own?

Test Forty-Three just wants a place within humanity too, just like the rest of us. They want friends. They want family. They might think differently, but they deserve love just like the people who created them.

C.D. Tavenor

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First of Their Kind released April 30, 2019, in paperback and digital formats! You can find it on Amazon, or check out its book trailer on Youtube!

and you can read my review here.

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