This book has an exceptional storyline, something that I haven’t read before. It talks about Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and the futuristic world corresponding to how things are in the world today. […]
I actually liked the storyline and the concept was completely mind-blowing and genius. I always wondered about Artificial Intelligence attacking us or taking revenge from us by making us work from them as we make them do (Its confusing but its still something to think about). Not to lie, I was really invested in the story and also its really easy-to-read and perfect for beginners who’s into sci-fi and utopian worlds.
Some selected excerpts, as this is a fairly long review:
My opinion of the book: This book is funny, clever and often hits close to home. I was thrown off by the dialogue including texting abbreviations at first and this made me feel really old! I adjusted though and only had to pause occasionally to ponder a new abbreviation. The characters are shallow, we don’t know much about them but in this story it works well. It is a very fast paced and entertaining book. People who text, game, and like online conspiracies should really have fun with this one! I am most impressed with how Timothy S. Boucher took so many different threads of modern life and managed to weave them into a very uniquely entertaining book. Great fun to read! […]
My youngest daughter doesn’t like to read. As a book lover, I feel like I failed in some way. She has read a few books and each time she does, I always am curious to see what captured her attention. I realize that she needs a book to meet an interest or experience that she has or would like to have. After I read this book, I called my daughter and read a chapter to her. When I finished, she was laughing and said I think you’ve actually found something I might read. She related to the language and circumstances!
Very fun to hear people from different walks of life, and different age groups getting a kick out of this book! Thanks everyone!
If you’d like a review copy of Conspiratopia for your blog, podcast, or to review on social media, please reach out to the publisher.
It was a slog, but I finally finished reading book two of C.S. Lewis’ Cosmic Trilogy, Perelandra.
Before I dive into thoughts on the book, I just wanted to capture two passages that I dog-eared the pages of while reading.
“One joy was expected and another was given.”
“But when you gave into the thing, gave yourself up to it, there was no burden to be borne. It became not a load, but a medium, a sort of splendour as of eatable, drinkable, breathable gold, which fed you and carried you and not only poured into you but out from you as well.”
Lewis spends a great deal of time on this idea of the joy that was expected versus the joy that was given, and how clinging to the expected, versus accepting what was given, is part of the root of evil.
In fact, basically the whole book is one long diatribe about morality and the nature of good and evil, as the main character, Ransom, attempts to prevent another Biblical Fall in the Edenic paradise of the planet Venus.
I liked the first book, Out of the Silent Planet, quite a bit more than I liked Perelandra. There are some cool bits, don’t get me wrong. But overall, the ponderousness of the whole thing makes for a slow and boring read. And the last chapter is kind of the epitome of the whole thing. What I liked more in the first book, OotSP, is that there’s more emphasis on exploring the world, and the encounters with all the cool creatures and stuff that live there. There’s some of that in P as well, to be sure, but it’s overshadowed by Lewis’ heavy-handed thoughts on “God and stuff.”
I would say that probably the main reason to read these books, for me (and I think I will skip the final book in the trilogy, That Hideous Strength – though I read it decades ago), is that you can clearly see Lewis’ imagination rehearsing a lot of elements of what will become Narnia. And for that, it is probably worth the price of admission for die-hard fans. Luckily, I think Lewis toned down all the god-stuff quite a bit in the Narnia books, or else focused it in a way that’s rather more palatable amidst all the other adventures. In either case, it’s still interesting at times to see the man’s struggles with and testament to Faith, etc. But I care a lot less about those topics in the forms that he chooses to describe them than I perhaps once did. A lot of the questions he’s grappling with here are, I guess, simply resolved for me, so intricately unwrapping them is a bit blah in the end. Plus it seems very old-fashioned to me to cling to these things only within the narrow frame of Christianity, when we have so much more global cultural legacy to examine and inherit. But that’s just me.
A.I. Virus (short for Artificial Intelligence Virus) is a fictional virus within what I am calling the “Conspiracy Dudiverse” as depicted in my most recent book, Conspiratopia.
But A.I. Virus did not begin there.
The Real A.I. Virus began almost four years ago, in early 2018, with this (linked) Medium article (archive). There is an accompanying Vimeo account (a couple of them actually, iirc), TruthAboutAIV, which contains some videos I commissioned from video actors on Fiverr during my early hyperreality experiments.
These videos are really weird, awkward, and funny to me all at once. You get what you get for $5. If nothing else, they are strangely timeless.
I find these scripts way too complicated for “now me” after having experimented with this a bit more. Simpler is almost always better in this kind of distributed or networked narrative.
These videos kind of directly informed my later experiments using AI-generated human avatars… which in the end are somewhat more cost-effective and perhaps easier than dealing with “real humans” though the quality differences between the two are, shall we say, inescapable. Humans are still humans…. for now…
That said, there are use cases where I think – for story-telling & aesthetic purposes – you might actually *want* a shitty, obviously wrong & fake-looking AI-generated avatar to deliver your message. I have to say with those videos, I kind of like flaunting the discomfort of the Uncanny Valley, as much as I like the flaunting of human discomfort can shine through at points in these videos (whether the discomfort is on the part of the actor, the viewer, or both).
There was a backstory here I explored in one other commissioned human actor video from Fiverr, below:
This is an allegedly promotional video attributed to a company called Neurolytics, Inc. The video description reads:
Research video from Neurolytics, Inc. Neurolytics, now defunct, was the brainchild of A.J. Nempner and Damon Long, whose spin-off gaming company, Influent AI, went on to gain notoriety for massively influencing global election outcomes with artificially-intelligent social media campaigns. This promotional video, never released, describes a prototype EEG headset (wrongly called “implants” here) which was able to measure, record and influence perception in conjunction with twice-daily capsules. The FDA denied permission for this product to come to market, and the company ultimately went bankrupt. (Recorded in Deerfield Beach, Florida 2015.)
Influent AI is its own tangent to this story-line, but suffice it to say that “some people think” today’s A.I. Virus has its roots in the questionable psychogenic driving technologies originally developed as part of Neuralytics’ banned product offering.
The below video expands on the Influent AI backstory a bit, in the form of a false news broadcast, also purchased via a video actor on Fiverr (bless all of their hearts!):
Anyway, so we see different strands of the A.I. Virus story told throughout all of these pieces, somewhat fractally, from many different multiversal perspectives at once. We hear that it is taking over people’s bodies, causing blackouts, and involuntary bodily actions. This basically conforms to what we see in Conspiratopia, with some differences.
Conspiratopia‘s use of the AI Virus and what I call “overwriting” is inherited from this older Medium story (Oct. 2015), entitled “Legal Fiction.” A relevant excerpt:
“I’m told I have a lot of physical autonomy for an Uber®. I guess it costs less for everyone in processing power that way — though I honestly don’t mind being over-written either. I find it relaxing, like watching a film. In fact, we’re allowed to watch films during over-write sessions, but I prefer to maintain perceptuals, at least peripherally, and pipe in classic rock selections, like Maroon 5 and One Direction.
My public blockchain indicates that I was originally cross-bonded as part of my obligatory outpatient rehabilitation for crimes against the Gestalt which I no longer remember, and the precise terms of which were expunged from Living Memory once my work as an Uber® earned me a rating of 15,000 points. I barely look at my stats anymore though, because I have everything I need now that I am able to re-sell a variable percentage of my public perceptions back to the Network to cover the costs of my sustenance and lodging. In a few more years, I will even be eligible to buy full voting rights.”
Speaking of scripts that are too long and wordy, here’s one made via one of those AI-generated Avatars (Synthesia) in June 2021 about the “Coming AI Takeover” that was written as a response to Grimes’ weird TikTok video about how communists ought to welcome AI overlords…
While I’m on a roll, there are also one or two videos in this recent AI-gen set that directly reference the re-incarnation for modern times of the AI Virus.
Anyway, I’m telling this story in a round-about way because it is a round-about story, so you’ll have to forgive me for all the tangents and inset tales. The fall of civilization to AI Superpowers doesn’t just happen overnight; it happens bit by bit…
Conspiratopiais a utopian satire set in a parallel universe where conspiracy theories have completely overridden society. Or is it a documentary set in the near future? One of those two.
The star of Conspiratopia, is Matt, creator of a couple not-that-viral conspiracy videos that only got a few thousand videos on TikTok (#conspiracytok), but which ended up costing him his job. He is also known online as Super Smart Conspiracy Dude, and you can watch all his videos here and here.
Even though personally I hate t-shirts, and never wear them because they make me feel like I’m choking, there’s also a t-shirt you can buy (if you want to torture yourself with close fitting garments adorned with someone else’s slogans, that is).
Conspiratopia will be published here serially as it is written, in original unedited drafts. I will later go back and do improved versions, and package it as an ebook, a print book, NFTs, a CD-ROM, a cuneiform tablet, and whatever else kids are into these days. Or at least an ebook, cause that costs me nothing.
You can check out other books I’ve written here, and an interview with me here, plus a podcast with me here.