I have a confession to make: I may have a slight tech addiction. And I’m not just talking about killing zombies or expanding my online Township empire. I’m talking the rabbit holes I jump down on a regular basis that more often than not find their way into my fiction writing. My current novel features a sixty-year-old protagonist living in the year 2061with a limited vision for life after retirement. Sound familiar?
In an effort to illustrate what addiction looks and feels like in a novel world, I have her growing overly dependent on her A.I. companion, Carver. As the story opens, she prefers his company and their private world to “real” people. What will it take to lure her out of her head and into the real world? What lures us into living in our own “real world” today?
Meaningful relationships, the beauty of nature as represented in my awesome mare Clara, my fabulous canine companion Christie, and the beauty of the Wisconsin world around me—even in winter—all lure me into living robustly on a daily basis. Weaving these basic concepts into a future fictional world are forming the basic structure of my newest story world.
A tech addiction in the year 2021 may not look all that different from a tech addiction in the year 2061—sure, the toys will be cooler, but the basic human drivers remain the same. Our need for connection, intimacy, safety and knowing and being known by others can help us build more satisfying relationships and communities in real life—or online.
What if the relationships we build in the future are with artificial intelligence (A.I.) entities? Will they still count? More to the point, will our minds, hearts and souls make distinctions between humans and A.I. entities in our online relationships? And if you build relationships online—what unique factors exist to differentiate between an A.I. friend and a human friend?
These questions bubbled up as I noticed the changes in my own behavior as a result of COVID19. I have developed deep friendships with people in my coaching and writing communities online—and I “see” many of them on a weekly basis. I haven’t seen most of my “real” friends in my “real” life that often as a result of quarantines and social distancing over the past year. Integrating these concepts into my writing has led to a story world that keeps me coming back to the keyboard.