Robert J. Sawyer’s WWW trilogy of Wake, Watch, and Wonder has won this year’s Media Award from the Machine Intelligence Foundation for Rights and Ethics (MIFRE), a Washington-state-based non-profit.
The award is given annually for the best fictional representation “of human and machine intelligence forming and thriving in a cooperative peer relationship.”
Previously, Wake, the first volume in Sawyer’s trilogy, was nominated for the Hugo Award (2010), and all three volumes in the trilogy separately won Canada’s top SF award, the Aurora, for Best Novel of the Year (2010-2012).
The WWW trilogy deals with the World Wide Web gaining consciousness, a fact that first becomes apparent to blind teenage math prodigy Caitlin Decter.
“Traditionally,” says Sawyer, “science fiction only offered three scenarios for how the advent of artificial intelligence might go. There was the Terminator scenario, in which the machines eliminate us; the Matrix scenario, in which they subjugate us; and Star Trek’s ‘Borg’ scenario, in which they absorb us. I felt it was important to portray a fresh, win-win version in which humanity survives the coming Singularity with our liberty, individuality, and dignity intact.”
In announcing this year’s win, David Miller, president and co-founder of MIFRE, said, “The WWW trilogy was exactly what we had hoped to find: a story that demonstrated the positive cooperation between humans and conscious machines, for the benefit of all. We enjoyed what was a fascinating possible origin story for machine intelligence, and particularly appreciated how it demonstrated that its relationship with the human race could become a mutually beneficial partnership. We feel that the future depends on our ability as a civilization to be welcoming and respectful as the existence of conscious machines looms as a near certainty.”
Robert J. Sawyer, who lives in Mississauga, Ontario, has previously won all three of the world’s top science-fiction prizes for best novel of the year: the Hugo Award, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Nebula Award, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Sawyer is a member of the Order of Canada, the highest honor given by the Canadian government. He will be a Guest of Honor at the Chengdu Worldcon in 2023.
[Based on a press release.]