My Kind of March Madness

by Bob Plankers on March 12, 2013 · 3 comments

in General Rambling

I’m not much for basketball but I laughed when my friends at Solarwinds emailed me about their version of March Madness. They’ve got a Sci-Fi Bracket going on which is totally my style.

For the people that have voted already, I do believe you’re smoking crack in at least five instances:

  1. Wintermute is losing to HAL? Seriously? They both have taken lives, sure, and they both get involved with alien intelligence (though you don’t know that until later in each of the trilogies), but HAL is just in the right place at the right time, while Wintermute makes it happen. Plus there’s voodoo ‘n stuff, and an arm that makes Cornell box-like things.
  2. Scotty vs. Kaylee: I’ve heard “underpromise and overdeliver” way too many times in my life, and it isn’t a good way to operate. Plus he didn’t have the stones to fix the ship in Star Trek II, Spock had to do it. Kaylee is your average small-shop sysadmin, getting it done despite a shoestring budget. Kaylee by a mile.
  3. Q is a dick. If he hadn’t been screwing with Picard in the first place there wouldn’t have been three tachyon beams ripping space & time open. You don’t get points for fixing problems you created. In contrast, Darth Vader is the #3 greatest villain of all time. ‘Nuff said.
  4. Adama vs. 10th Doctor: it’s pretty obvious I could have a glass of bourbon and a cigar with Adama. And by “glass” I mean “all of it.” He also changes his mind a lot, for the better. I’m surprised the Doctor’s own companions haven’t killed his righteous, self-important ass yet. Nobody likes a know-it-all.
  5. Hiro Protagonist has a sword, motorcycle, and millimeter wave radar. Actually, that probably makes him sort of a voyeur, now that I think about it. Kinda like the TSA. Oh well, I voted for him anyhow. I think the Snow Crash antagonist, Raven, would have been a better choice, since he’s an Aleut flintknapper and carries a nuclear warhead as personal protection.

My money is on Malcolm Reynolds to win the whole thing. And if you’re looking for something to read I definitely recommend the Neuromancer/Count Zero/Mona Lisa Overdrive trilogy, the 2001/2010/2063 trilogy, and Snow Crash.

Update, 3/14/2013: John Herbert called me out on some of this. As Pulp Fiction’s Jules says, “Well allow me to retort.”

HAL 9000 went operational in 1997, according to the book 2001, and though it probably wasn’t built using 1997 technology (probably 1995 or 1996, given development) we’ll ignore that. I’d never thought about the time at which Neuromancer is set, and it doesn’t look like it’s very clear, but Wintermute has limited Swiss citizenship “under their equivalent of the Act of ’53.” Presumably that’s 2053, and the book is past it. Assuming that Wintermute and its brother Neuromancer have been operating for some time at that point let’s call it 2040.

In Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive they tell Angela Mitchell that Continuity is basically her sibling, a higher order AI, given the biomodification Christopher Mitchell did to his daughter. We can infer that the technology that Wintermute is constructed from isn’t yet the biochips from Maas Biolabs. Let’s say that Moore’s Law holds in some fashion, given that the epoch of biochips hadn’t occurred yet. Moore’s Law actually says that there’s roughly a doubling of transistors in a CPU every two years. It was Intel’s David House that transmuted that into a performance doubling every 18 months. Let’s say performance does double, but every three years instead.

January 1, 2040 minus January 1, 1997 is 516 months, or 14.33 performance-doubling intervals (at 36 months). That means that Wintermute’s hardware is roughly 2^14.33 more powerful, or 20642 times more powerful than HAL 9000’s could have been. If we stick with the 18 month performance doubling that’s 426,114,725 times more powerful, but then then programmers probably wrote the AI in Java or something, thereby negating most of that advantage. If I were an AI the first thing I’d do is recode myself.

Anyhow, as Kurt put it, Wintermute > HAL 9000.

As for Q vs. Darth Vader, I think you’ve sold me, though I do concede that my premise that Q is a dick could apply equally to Darth Vader. I do think that Vader shows a lot more repentance, though, as Q just proves he’s a dick all the way through to the very end of TNG.

Adama vs. 10th Doctor: eh, whatever. Adama drives what is essentially a giant gun with FTL capabilities. The 10th Doctor drives an unarmed ship that can go anywhere in time and space. On the surface of that the Doctor wins, except he’s a giant wuss and runs away all the time and sulks (Christmas 2012 is a great example of that, boo hoo, poor Doctor). You put Adama in the TARDIS and there’d be some serious fixing of stuff in the universe. And whisky consumption. But we’re not judging the characters based on their rides, we’re judging them. For me, Adama wins.

You’re dead on about Daleks vs. Borg, Spock vs. Neo. Neo based solely on Matrix 1 is different than Neo based on the whole series. WTF was up with Matrix 2 and 3, lots of unresolved questions.

Kirk and Picard… I don’t know. Shatner as an actor sucks, but the character Kirk is always willing to get into a fight. Probably his Iowan upbringing, the musical “The Music Man” gets it right with the song “Iowa Stubborn.” Yes, Stewart is English, but they say Picard is from France, so the English argument doesn’t fit. My money is on Kirk here. Not Shatner, but Kirk.

Scotty vs. Kaylee… If there were an all-star sci-fi mashup like the Avengers it’d be Geordi and Kaylee running whatever vehicles they’re flying around in, for sure.

Anyhow, the tl;dr version is: you’re wrong and you’re opinions are malformed. Ha! :)

Hopefully that clears some of his confusion up. Hehehe. :)

{ 3 comments }

Adam Baum March 12, 2013 at 9:56 PM

Ender all the way. Has that child genius going for him. Plus, a kick ass series of books, mostly.

Bob Plankers March 13, 2013 at 1:18 AM

I am concerned with any choice that requires reading… People aren’t going for those. But I hope you’re right!

Jodi March 14, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Love your passion, Bob. With less than 24 hours to go until the end of sector 1 voting, Wintermute is 66 points behind HAL – it’s not looking good, unless you can really rally the troops. Scotty and Kaylee are still neck and neck (Scotty is 9 behind Kaylee), and Darth Vader and Q are pretty close as well (Q is 16 behind Darth).

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