Software

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Rucker, Rudy. Software. New York: Ace, 1982. For Translations and reprints, see Internet Speculative Fiction Database, as of 1 February 2023 at link here.[1]


Early cyberpunk novel. First book of The Ware Tetralogy: Four Novels by Rudy Rucker (published as a compilation by Prime Books, 2010.[2]

Wikipedia summary on the tetralogy begins, "Software introduces Cobb Anderson as a retired computer scientist who was once tried for treason for figuring out how to give robots artificial intelligence and free will, creating the race of boppers. By 2020, they have created a complex society on the Moon, where the boppers developed because they depend on super-cooled superconducting Josephson effect circuits."[3]

Under Major themes the Wikipedia entry on the tetralogy notes the evolution — literally — of AI:

The central technological speculation of the series are the "boppers", a kind of robot with artificial intelligence developed through natural selection rather than through design. Crediting mathematician Kurt Gödel with the germ of the idea, Software declares: "We cannot build an intelligent robot.... But we can cause one to evolve." By creating self-replicating robots whose programming is randomly altered periodically (and who can exchange programming information with each other in a form of sexual reproduction), and then forcing these robots to pass "fitness tests" in order to survive, Rucker suggests, true artificial intelligence that equals or surpasses the human brain could be developed. (Rucker discusses this same idea in his nonfiction work Infinity and the Mind.)

Rucker also uses the series to discuss his philosophical ideas, beliefs that he has described elsewhere as mysticism. "A person is just hardware plus software plus existence," the character Cobb Anderson declares in Software, to another character whose father has recently died [...].


Sequels:

Wetware, which see at internal link.

Freeware. New York City: Avon, 1997.[4] In the Cybersex anthology, the editor's headnote to the story "Randy Karl Tucker, or, The Education of a Moldie-Lover" states that the story is to be incorporated into Freeware (p. [233]).
Realware. New York City: Eos/HarperCollins, 2000.[5]

See The Ware Tetralogy.

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Software deals seriously with the philosophical question "When am I still me?", what "immortality" — and identity — might mean if it only meant transferring one's consciousness to a robot body; and with the gorier details of what such a transfer might mean if there is no radical mind/body division and mind, consciousness, personality, spirit, or human software is intimately embedded in the hardware of the body and would need to be extracted. Caution for sensitive readers: "extracted" in this context may be quite literal. Alternatively, to get the properly horrific effect, it helps to know what a microtome is [6] — the lab instrument is mentioned explicitly in Software — and, optionally, to know some of the mid-20th-century lab-lore of minced worms and rat brains (or up to whole rats) prepared for extractions, with the prep involving Waring blenders.[7]

For uploading consciousness cf. and contrast Upload graphic novel, Upload TV series, and Schild’s Ladder and the works cross-listed and linked there.

On the Moon, we also have humans inside the biggest of the boppers for humans inside robots as cybernetic mechanisms, for which cf. and contrast works from "The Machine Stops" to The Müller-Fokker Effect and the works cross-listed and linked there.

There is a robot religion based on faith in the One, which the roboticized Cobb Anderson sees as what he built: a generator of the cybernetic equivalent of cosmic rays, to cause random software-mutations in the robots for (un)natural selection to act upon; and which the sophisticated robots see as the Universal One, the final Order in randomness and chaos, the ultimate Signal in the noise. Cf. and contrast I. Asimov's short story, "Reason."

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RDE, Initial; finishing 5-9Feb23 f.