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This idea (of the route to true AI) reminds me of the short story Crystal Nights by Greg Egan


“What created the only example of consciousness we know of?” Daniel asked.


“Exactly. But I don’t want to wait three billion years, so I need to make the selection process a great deal more refined, and the sources of variation more targeted.”

Julie digested this. “You want to try to evolve true AI? Conscious, human-level AI?”

“Yes.” Daniel saw her mouth tightening, saw her struggling to measure her words before speaking.

“With respect, I don’t think you’ve thought that through.”

“On the contrary,” Daniel assured her. “I’ve been planning this for twenty years.”

“Evolution,” she said, “is about failure and death. Do you have any idea how many sentient creatures lived and died along the way to Homo sapiens? How much suffering was involved?”

Something similar is described in Ted Chiang's Lifecycle of Software Objects


"...We could run a society of them at hothouse speeds without any risk of them going feral, and see what they produce"

I'm curious to see if there's a collection of similar works that go down this trope, or if it is indeed something that's only recently emerged.

Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon. Mid-20th century.

It makes me so happy that the three parents to this comment all have the stories posted online for free, with the authors permission. There's definitely a correlation with this strain of hard science fiction.

"Microcosmic God" doesn't seem freely available to me.

Third google result for me: http://1pezeshk.com/wp-content/pics/2013/01/microcosmicgodth...

Hopefully it's legal and accessible for you.

Thank you.


I have been looking for this short story for decades.

I think I first discovered Egan on HN, so for anyone unfamiliar - go and read his books!

Probably my favourite living author, which perhaps says more of me than him, but well worth the read (and re-read in many cases).

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