16 June 2010

Technology and Magic

Today I have a guest post up on Liana Brooks's blog about the magic system that I use in my stories. I thought it might be interesting to post the original thoughts I had about magic and technology by way of prequel to that post :o) This is taken from my 'secret' blog that I use to throw all my worldbuilding thoughts onto, creatively named Worldbuilding, Inc. ;)

Had a thought the other morning to the effect that really, technology is magic. 'Magic', as I have been using the term, is that mysterious addition that has the ability to animate a bunch of cells and make them actually 'alive'; magic is life itself, in all its various forms, throughout the universe. We have magic from self, magic from plants and animals, magic from other people, and magic 'essence' from the universe itself - the latter being predominantly the realm of faith-based magic (miracles and what have you).

But what about the substances that aren't alive? Electricity is, in many ways, uncannily like life-force - I mean, think about the number of books that have been written whereby electricity is used to make something live. Think even about the fact that we use electricity to stimulate a flat-lined heart into beating again... And think about the wonders that we are able to do because we can manipulate this and knowledge like it.

It's like magic, isn't it?

So, we have 'magic', which uses lifeforce, and we have 'tech', which uses electricity. Both are magic; they don't actually conflict, like so many people seem to think they do. They complement. They need to be used in balance - to wit, Sanctuary. Life and death magic, acting in balance.

Only it isn't death magic, because that's something else again, I think. Utilising remnant echoes of life magic? Something, anyway.

But no, tech magic is unlife magic, not death magic. It's the magic of things that were never alive, it's the magic of computers and lightbulbs and machines.

AI is where it starts to get blurry - the world is trending towards a greater and greater merging of life and unlife, first and foremost in the field of AI, and of things like growing artificial organs. We are blending the two, trying to break down the boundaries (oh look, Chaos Theory! Everything swirling together to become mixed, like jam in rice pudding! You can't stir things apart, only together) so in the future, 'magic' is going to encompass both. Only we probably won't call it magic, because we tend only to use the term for things we can't understand ;)

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