I have to confess my first ever novel was a dark comedic erotic sci-fi meets thriller about the notion that the Earth is a living organism, a kind of malevolent Gaia (yes, folks, I was an early James Lovelock adopter –and for all those who don’t know who James Lovelock is, he was the ex-NASA scientist who invented the notion of Gaia – the Earth as a self-regulating organism). In my novel Gaia has decided to shake off evil polluting humanity by creating extreme weather events –needless to say there is an erotic sub-plot but I’ll leave that to the three readers south of Dusseldorf (yes, it is in translation).
Prescient you might say (the book was published in the 1990s) and quite eerie when I re-read the extreme weather events that headed up each chapter. Ironically I’m not quite so much of a doomsayer these days, however it did occur to me that there might be mileage in calling in DeepMind technologies and to get AlphaGo (genius Dennis Hassabis’s super computer-child that beat humanity’s top GO player in 2015 thereby setting a ripple of both joy and unease throughout the world) on the case.
What would happen if you fed all the global climate change info into AlphaGo – would it (tempted as I am to give it a gender, note I don’t here!) take a week or so mulling all the potential solutions both Man-made and otherwise over and then print out a sustainable multi-platform strategy ready to be implemented immediately?
A combination of alternative energies sources geographically tailored (wind for the UK, Solar for Saudi…), algae walls for buildings that mop up carbon emissions, the UN tree planting global plan, carbon-free architecture, the final date for end of traditional farming and the implementation of insect-protein farming etc, etc. All fed in one end and printed out the other end ribbons and ribbons of calculated strategy all worked out to the last tiny detail and realistically costed. You can see where I’m going with this, and it ain’t the Matrix scenario.
But then I started to think how this would have to involve international transparency and co-operation, a global mindset that transcends tribalism and the inherent xenophobia our glorious species has displayed thus far. And, in my more darker and comic moments, I’d always imagined would only happen if the Aliens invaded (bring it on, little green person!) and Humanity was forced to unite against a deadly enemy that was for some inexplicable reason only interested in intergalactic sex and re-runs of Friends. But then I am a closet trekkie and us closet trekkies err on the side of optimism … to go where no man, woman, trans, cis, gay, lesbian has ever gone before…
However one other sneaky little fact kept knocking on the side of my head – supercomputers happen to be seriously ecologically incorrect, requiring eons and eons of energy to work (puts a whole other light on cryptocurrency, right?) this includes my new superhero AlphaGo. But hey if it really could come up with a viable and immediate solution…
So if Dennis Hassabis or Bill Gates or for that matter Captain Picard is reading this perhaps you can send on an Algorithm to old AlphaG for me?
Tobsha Learner is an author, playwright and screenwriter.
Further info: www.tobsha.com