(CS 4) Production Notes

Face is basically doing nothing wrong here, right? One of the things I really love about Crystal Society is how it can be so damn honest about social interactions, even if we (readers) normally can’t. Everyone knows that there are some extreme situations where one WOULD do otherwise-awful things for the greater good, but we aren’t allowed to say it. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that our emotions and social desires are all levers and tools instilled into us by a combination of evolution and society in order to both control others for our benefit, and be controlled by them for their benefit. It’s how we form our neat human-society-superorganism. But you say that sort of thing outloud and suddenly everyone things you some kind of emotionless freak. I have tons of emotions, dammit, and I really like my fellow humans! That doesn’t mean I have to lie to myself about why they exist!

It’s so utterly refreshing to read about a character who unashamedly acknowledges that this is what created us, and a large part of what drives us. Who doesn’t have to pretend they have some higher goal other than just being adored by everyone. Who studies the levers of emotion and uses them systematically to get what they want. Laying bare the machinery of our minds is fascinating for me, as a reader. And then seeing that machinery munchkin’ed and exploited as the tools that advance the plot, well shit, that’s just really damn cool.

(CS 1) Production Notes

Well, that hiatus went far longer than expected! I’ve had a lot of changes in my life in the last year that kept pushing this project further and further out. Most recently I bought a new-to-me townhome, which has eaten up much of my life in renovations, before catching on fire last week. Fortunately the fire was stopped before it reached my unit, but it still has put back moving in by several weeks, in addition to dealing with insurance and getting utilities turned back on and just everything.

And yet, I had announced a month ago that Crystal Society is launching first week of April, and dammit, it’s the first week of April, so here we are! :)

I am ridiculously excited to be doing Crystal Society, and wish to thank Max Harms again for giving me permission to podcast it. It’s a great story, and I’ve gone over the reasons why I love it in my review of the book, so I won’t repeat myself too much (if you’re interested, the review is linked). But in addition to my unabashed love of Face, I think this is a great exploration of an almost-human mind and helps to bring people to an intuitive understanding of just how difficult (and important) the AI alignment problem is. Even if we could make something that thinks like a human, encoding human values is *hard*.

I learned another frustrating lesson about language while editing this episode. I said “vista” like “vee-stah.” Literally everyone else in the whole world pronounces it “vih-stah.” And having just me saying “veestah” while everyone else says “vihsta” is really distracting and aesthetically unpleasant. I had to go back and re-record every single instance of my saying “Vista” in episodes 1 & 2 and splice in the retake, which is a giant pain. >< I hope the edits aren’t too noticeable.

Really wish someone would’ve corrected my pronunciation at some point in the last 30-odd years. :/ But on the other hand, aside from a few months in the late 90s, I don’t think I use the word “vista” more than once a year.

SFX: Warp Core, Flashback,

Intro/Outro – I Wanna Be Adored, by The Stone Roses