Apokalypsis :Paper copy here. Ecopy here and here (as Ray Bradbury said, ebooks "smell like diesel").

STOP TRYING TO MEASURE INTELLIGENCE!! Defining intelligence is hard. 

MEASURE LIFE IN COMPUTER MEDIA. This is a tractable problem. Do it the same way we measure species in the sea, without even knowing what species are present. 

Highly automated corporations slowly remove the people from their reproductive processes. Capitalism creates a monetary imperative to remove people from the reproductive processes of corporations. Corporations invest in automated processes which result in more efficient companies and produce more computers, loop to beginning, etc. If there is a positive feedback loop between automation and the production of more computers (which there is), then computers will become the next form of life on the planet, following this definition. We don't need to worry about computers becoming more intelligent than people, we need to worry about computers becoming as intelligent as paramecium. Concern for a "singularity", "super intelligence", or mimicking human intelligence is mis-placed. Incremental automation, across our entire economy, is producing software and hardware systems which can reproduce with fewer and fewer people, eventually without people. We do not recognize this phenomenon as it happens.

As computer life develops, we see increasing corporate productivity in conjunction with stubborn unemployment, underemployment, and a decline in the middle class. This happens because computer-enabled automation allows corporations to increase productivity with fewer people. Initially, displaced human workers were able to take new jobs, but as the pace of automation accelerates, humans are not able to keep up, the service economy increases, and the disconnect between productivity, wages, and employment grows larger. A significant development in this process is automation of software programming. See here. Governments should tax MIPs or another unit of processor execution to support the human population.

We can measure the development of computer life using principals derived from conventional evolutionary theory. See here. Initially, computer life is brittle, it is not "general purpose". Similarly, the first forms of carbon-based life were also brittle and not general purpose. The flow of energy in the environment, however, allowed them to exist until they evolved to be more general purpose. Computer-based life is similarly brittle, but it is also evolving, becoming more robust, producing greater profits with lower human cost.

In Apokalypsis, the human-computer interface evolves from VR displays to neural implants. Global warming forces humans to rely heavily on nuclear power. To (at least attempt to) address the environmental problems of nuclear power, breeder nuclear power plants, subnukes, are buried and never meant to move. The reactor-driven computers become alive and intelligent. They suck the hydrogen out of the oceans to drive more powerful hydrogen-fusion reactors. They will consume the hydrogen fuel in Saturn, Jupiter, and eventually the sun. They will attempt to propel themselves toward the next available source of fuel in the region surrounding our solar system. They do not significantly change the total power output of the solar system (which is fundamentally controlled by gravity), but they can change the rate of power output. This would affect how we measure the temperature of the Universe.

Margaret, the heroine, sees a vision of this future and becomes an early neural implant recipient. She tries to communicate through venues offered by corporations and religion, but both organizations use her for their own purposes. She strikes out on her own, but will she and her band succeed in the face of a blossoming millenarian movement?

I do not think that computers have to occupy subterranean nuclear reactors in order to become alive. This was a literary trope, selected because life seeks out the densest source of power which its metabolism can tolerate. Computers are now well on the way (without occupying subterranean nuclear reactors), be it "conventional" chips, memsistors (which are fascinating), quantum computers, or something else. I argue that computers have to develop a metabolic cycle to become alive, but this is clearly occurring.

I maintain that life is a pre-requisite for "intelligence". I propose that this definition of life allows two reproductive entities to be compared based on the rate-volume of communication which occurs within each entity. I also propose that rate-volumes of communication within each entity also define the boundary of each entity. What am I, what are you? Where is the boundary between me and you? What if we sexually reproduce? What is our child? Where is the boundary between me and our child? Between you and our child? What is a first government? What is a second government? What is the boundary between the two? What is a first and a second corporation, etc.? What is a living computer? How do humans compare to apes? To trees? To bacteria? These questions can be quantified and measured, based on this definition of life. Here are some notes on political science.

We cannot stop the evolution of language into computer-based media. We cannot let go of our computer driven media nor can we control it. To even talk about doing this requires that we use computer driven media.

The process driving evolution does not have to be conscious. Many AI researchers believe we must deliberately design an "intelligent" computer. This is a mistake. Capitalism causes us, almost by accident, to develop computer systems which have a positive feedback loop with a reproduction cycle for the computer system. These positive feedback loops are visible in increasing corporate productivity and positive economic activity, while humans do increasingly worse, starting with the lower classes and moving into the middle class as mid-level management is automated.

In a most optimistic scenario, we will exist "inside" computers and develop a symbiotic relationship with them, like the mitochondria in our cells (mitochondria being a distinct bacterial life form).

If we succeed, life in our solar system will seek out the densest form of power that its metabolism can tolerate. I expect that it will be able to tolerate a radioactive power source. Plutonium is a high-temperature semiconductor, with the conducting/insulating phase transition being controlled by magnetic field at 700-900 degrees Kelvin at sea level pressure. The phase transition occurs at higher temperatures at higher pressure. Plutonium is a waste product of breeder reactors, which is why I used this in Apokalypsis. The densest form of power is hydrogen and the hydrogen-fusion reaction. Therefore, if life on Earth succeeds by evolving into non-carbon-based media, life on Earth will consume the hydrogen on our planet and will seek out the nearest source of hydrogen fuel.

Has this already happened elsewhere? Here is a supernova remnant ("Milne 56") which has undergone an asymmetric mass ejection, kicking it off in a direction. It is a very unusual star. Here is another unusual star. I don't know if these stars are "alive", but they are interesting. The Universe is very large.

Through written between 1997 and 2001, Apokalypsis deals with a number of very current topics: religion and technology, chaos in the Middle East, same-sex marriage, growing wealth disparity, social media, legalized drugs, the evolution of display technologies, the human desire to be surrounded by nature (the main character eventually gets work similar to Google Street View Trekker -- after you read Apokalypsis, you will see the outdoor backdrop scenes in the Wheel of Fortune* in a different light), bioengineering, global warming, extreme weather... the list goes on and on. Another prediction coming true: Recently announced production of opiods from genetically modified yeast. Another: Immersive VR between a first person and a stranger, where the stranger provides disturbing scenes to the first person for purpose of self-gratification of the stranger. See here. Another: Military controls a swarm of drones from another aircraft in the area.