#02 Author's Notes - Creating a World

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My inspiration for the world of Fallout 101 came to me back in 2007 when I happened upon the web comic Dresden Kodak. I was intrigued by the author's presentation of futuristic technologies and decided to look into a couple of things he had mentioned; namely, the work of inventor Ray Kurzweil, a well known futurist, and something called “the singularity.” I was then led to a podcast for this wonderful scientific conference called the Singularity Summit, at which Kurzweil was a key speaker. It was this conference that laid the groundwork for what would eventually become the setting for Fallout 101.

To sum it up briefly, the singularity (in this case, not a black hole, but the “technological singularity”) is the point at which Artificial Intelligence has advanced to the level that it can build upon itself, thus allowing for growth unlike anything in documented human history. Essentially, the occurrence of the singularity would almost instantaneously change the face of society.

While the concept of the singularity has been around for a while, it is generally seen as occurring in the distant future. What most fascinated me about Kurzweil’s view was that he felt the singularity would occur in the early 2020’s. His key argument behind this was founded on the idea of exponential growth—which is that per every unit of time, within a few years, computational processes grow exponentially, and that growth can be predicted. And that at the rate things are going, around 2020 computers will be fast enough for true A.I. (Critics of this idea often cite the limitations of silicon processors as what will halt advancement. But there are alternatives such as molecular computing, which has the potential to make our advanced silicon based computers look like ENIAC.)

And of course, there is endless precedent for this growth. Just look at cellphones, video games, laptops, iPods, and, especially, the internet. High speed connections have completely changed the way that society functions, creating world wide upset, both positive and negative (though many of us appear to have hardly noticed). And, it seems, this sort of paradigm-shift will occur again.

From a story writing point of view though, it has never been important to me whether or not Kurzweil would end up being on the money. What his ideas presented was an ideological foundation for a world that felt realistic, but also wasn’t too far from home, thus allowing for what I felt to be a delightful synthesis of new and old. And more importantly, it was a world that had the potential to be as entertaining, dynamic, and unpredictable as its inhabitants.

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