The Relentless March by Jim Anderson

Last week, I wrote about ChatGPT and the impact that it (and its siblings and cousins and distant descendants) will have on education. I would like to sketch out an optimistic potential future, because I’ve been marking today and so I’m leaning much more towards the optimistic than the pessimistic at the moment

This is a utopian vision, fueled by Federation and Culture and all of the optimistic futures that science fiction authors have projected for us over time.

At some point after we’re born, we are each assigned or gifted an artificial intelligence companion who teaches us, shepherds us, guides us on our path through the world.

Our Companion will suggest reading or watching to fuel our interests but also to stretch the outer bounds of our imagination. Our Companion will test us, working assessment into every one of our days, all of our activities. Our Companion will have as its primary objective to make us, each of us as an individual the best of us we can possibly be.

It’s a seductive future, and a future that I would love to live long enough to see, but there are issues that I can see, that we all can see, and I’m not sure how to get over those hurdles. One is, how do we bridge the gap between rich and poor. It’s easy to imagine such an optimistic and enabling future, but how do we make such a future available to everyone.

And now, a left turn. I have an idea kicking around in my head. Perhaps some day it will become a story (and before you ask, the line of ideas waiting to become stories is long and winding, and so if you have a story from this idea, have at it. I’ll do what I can to catch up). The aliens arrive and in order to join the Federation, the civilized races of our galaxy, we have only to answer a single question.

Tell us the story of humanity. Tell us the story of humanity through its individuals. So tell us the story of everyone who lived today, everyone who died today. Tell us the story of each of you, and you can join us.

I don’t know what to do with this idea, but there is a part of me that wants the aliens to land tomorrow and ask us this question. And there is a part of me that’s afraid that they might. Because we can’t answer this basic question, how do we take care of everyone. All of everyone.

I suspect this idea will lead me down some interesting alleys of consideration. But back to the original question, I would like to see a future in which each of us and all of us are granted this opportunity, to be enabled in such a bespoke way.

I don’t know though how to get from here to there. It’s easy to imagine an optimistic and utopian future, and why not dream a utopian dream. Why not. But plotting the course, ah therein lies the rub.

First published on Multijimbo 5th February 2023

Professor James W Anderson is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Southampton. Beyond mathematics, he practices the traditional Japanese martial art of aikido and writes science fiction and fantasy. He insists his role on the Milford committee is as Most Egregious Token Male.


About Jacey Bedford

Jacey Bedford maintains this blog. She is a writer of science fiction and fantasy (, the secretary of Milford SF Writers (, a singer ( and a music agent booking UK tours and concerts for folk performers (
This entry was posted in fantasy, Milford, reading, science fiction, writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s