Jeffery Reynolds
As I read Halting States, I was repeatedly struck by the idea and vision of a world where everyone is gaming all the time, or at the very least lost in the visual constructs of a computer generated world (aka, Cop Space). Towards the end, we even get the revelation from the characters that the idea that someone is NOT playing a game constantly is off the wall. Yet I wonder how well this concept meshes with the way our minds really work. Would we not find these constant symbolic and graphical feeds to be distracting, another nuisance that leads to increased accidents, lawsuits, government bans? Would there not be a space or place where we are disconnected, freed from the encumbrances of the mechanical world that surrounds us? Or would we really feel naked and vulnerable without the constant feed of our electronic devices, as Sue felt when Copspace was off line? Personally, I'd rather have a world where this was something to do in your spare time, not the norm, but I certainly do not expect I would represent a majority of people. Escapism has always been an attractive idea for most individuals, and the constant surrounding game world and electronic feeds would represent quite a bit of escapism for everyone.

Joe Shields

Halting State was a hard book to get into, about half way through it became interesting, once I was able to separate the different stories of the three main characters. I find the idea of having an augmented reality very interesting. There are currently sound space devices that augment reality through sound (soundscape), but to have visual would be even harder. However since we are such a visual culture, it would be much more meaningful to have our reality augmented visually. While it can be more distracting I think if the interface is made correctly it can be more helpful. Such as phasing out distractions and highlighting things of importance. Such as when driving, highlighting all the cars, people, and traffic signals, while phasing out advertisements would be cool. However I see the opposite happening since advertisement bring revenue while safety doesn't. All this would require a lot of processing power since the visuals would have to seem projected into the environment. Which is much harder than say sound which can just get louder or softer depending on distance calculated via GPS. I guess the next step would be to augment reality with haptic feedback!

John Welkner

I think the stross vision of the future could come close to being true. With wearing goggles that projects an overlay on the real world. There was a system that a man presented that you earn points for doing well in the real world. This is only a couple of steps away from becoming a LARPG. This would be realistic because this is also like geocashing Where you take on a quest and accomplish the take. The only problem that I think that this will have is that it would never be taken super seriously. A problem that would happen would be something like the quest would be deliver this TV. Then the person that gets the quest would say sure then run to ebay and say new TV for sale. I think a life point system with an overlay for the world has the most potential for becoming real. This would be something that people would use like the xbox achievements, but i think it may just be some sort of fad that once people realize that their not as good as others, or becomes too much of a hassle they would stop playing.
john w @ jeff. I think the need for the devices could become possible if there was technology here. My dad was a cop for 20 years and when he retired he did remark that he felt weird leaving the house without his gun and other stuff.

john w @ karen. I agree that that is where technology is heading. Technology today is slowly merging together with m3 players, cell phones, cameras, gps, all merging into single pieces of technology.

To Joe:
I found it hard to follow Halting State, with the book jumping around to the different characters. Some of the technology that has been introduced in the book could very well some day be implemented into public use. Once that day comes I hope I am a very old man that does not have to deal with all the crap will go on in world.


It is increasingly evident that the electronic world will exponentially creep into our real lives. I have no doubt that at some point humans will coexist in the real and virtual worlds. I think Stross presents a concept which is dead on though I am not sure we will wear glasses. Just as Jack talks about how the slide rule and pocket calculator disappeared and replaced with the laptop, cellphone, and ipad, I think that a technology which has yet to be introduced, or maybe even discovered , will replace the tools we currently think are the latest and greatest, maybe smart contact lenses or surgically installed electronic devices, who knows?

As Karen said the electronic world would no doubt creep more and in more into our real lives as the technology is introduced. Her idea that smart contact lens or other surgically installed electronic devices may very well happen. The rate the technology has changed in both the eye correction field and the size of our electronic/the amount they can do in the past couple year has been gigantic. I mean the microchip is getting smaller and smaller and able to hold more and more things these days. Eye doctors are already able to go into someone’s eye and put a permanent lens in them. Who’s to say we won’t have contact lens that can change the prescription of the lens as it needs to in a few years or even be able to do other things.

As for one of Stross’s predictions for the near future, I think we may very see some cars with auto pilots soon. Auto pilot is already used in a variety of other vehicles I don’t think it would be too hard to incorporate it into an everyday car. However the smart sensors that were on the road that prevented the taxi from being remote controlled may take a little effort into making. I also see them being a little too farfetched to actually put into everyday use as if a single malfunction occur with the sensors it could lead to a horrible accident being caused.

John Rameprsaud
Some of Stross’s ideas seem like they would be or are already being created and implemented into today’s world. Banking on the internet is something that is already around and cyber bank robberies are something that is plaguing the internet right now. Lexus has a feature on the LS car which it autopilots the car into a spot. It has sensors around the bumpers allowing it move around the area to park in the spot, but this is a far ways off from an actual autopilot. Most of the things in Halting State is stepping stone for future products but we have to wait for the military to create and release the technology to the public.

I do see that technology is rapidly changing and that the lines for the real and virtual world are beginning to converge. Although I'm not entirely sure how much of this technology would be used to affect our everyday lives. I see technology first and foremost advancing in the medical fields, then in the leisurely. I see Stross's ideas being more of a visionary idea of what our worlds could potentially develop over the next 50 years. As John R. mentioned banking is already something that has been implemented as well as the basic idea of autopilots. I see the future development being somewhere within our cellphones. @ Karen, I dont necessarily see use going as far as surgically implanting similar goggles to our eyes, the reason I think he uses the concept of goggles is the fact that they can be removed. @Joe I agree it was rather difficult to get into the book, I think for me it was mostly the narration switching between the characters.

Michael Larrabee
What's interesting with the future Stross envisions is that most of the things he has considered have in some form or another already been implemented or research to several of these ideas is making good progress that shows promise for the future. When you look at the ideas of being integrated into a virtual world, we already are on a very basic level with all of our mobile devices, but we have yet to make any widely used steps to integrating the internet or games for that matter into the processes of our body. When you look at the progress being made in all the fields of robotics, whether its the movement of the body, AI, speech recognition, emotions, strength or mimicking real life through behaviors or visual appearance, once you take all of the elements and bring them together, we find a new set of technology that we would be very unfamiliar with, but at the same time understand as it became more human. If we could suddenly integrate out lives into a video game with our minds using glasses, that wouldn't be a huge stretch for our society to imagine at this point. Many different technologies are being worked on at the moment in all fields, but once these ideas are combined together, they create something new and useful. By being more integrated into technology than ever before our lives will completely change in ways we are unable to foresee.

@Aula: While it would be wonderful for technology to advance further in medical fields or other serious topics, usually technology advances in fields that make our daily lives easier through leisure, simple tasks and the other spectrum is for things that are extremely profitable. Technology tends to makes leaps and bounds when you throw a lot of money at a problem. War usually takes care of that. Definitely not the best method.
@Karen: With many researchers looking into the possibilities of adding functionality to systems by attaching them to our brains, the idea that we would be so connected to the technology doesn't seem far fetched. It's already possible to control wheel chairs using our mind alone given a special helmet, this technology is going to be advanced to apply to other things as well.

Since the Industrial Revolution mankind has rapidly evolved technologically, mostly from reverse engineering from MegaTron’s frozen cybernetic exoskeleton. Halting state does make some accurate predictions about future technology but I don’t believe it achieved any scientific breakthroughs. Besides everybody knows the Jetson’s invented autopilot mode. Stross’s vision about technology was creative and the whole idea of quantum computing is pretty cool. His idea of network security, VR, and massive multiplayer online games was on point. Banks are online now and network security is an essential.

Wendy Lohr
Charles Stross has given us a world in which virtual reality is common place. VR is used much like the internet today. Everything from CopSpace (used by authorities, for example, to identify citizens and whether they have criminal backgrounds or not) to a VR overlay of a city, identifying restaurants and pinpointing precise locations (much like google maps or gps devices) are presented in this book. The author is just taking all of the things we have at our fingertips right now and going several steps forward to project them into VR, which is used simultaneously with the real world. I believe that several of these concepts are very possible in the future, but implementation will probably be the biggest hindrance. It would take a unified government consensus to allow these to be implemented and our world, as of right now, is not anywhere near reaching a global government consensus on anything. So, we may start to see some of these concepts take shape in various pockets around the world, but it will be a very long time, probably not in our lifetime, before there becomes a more global use of these concepts.

Response to Joe: I agree that Halting State was a very difficult book to follow, especially from the style it was written in and jumping between three seemingly random characters. I was glad when I finally reached the point where all three characters were brought together, as pieces began to fall into place more clearly.

Response to Karen: Your comment about electronic devices being surgically installed was interesting and triggered a distant memory of an article I read about nanotechnology. This is something that is still being developed but has the potential for all kinds of uses from medical uses to various forms of entertainment. I can see researchers developing a way to implant nanobots within us that carry instructions for overlaying VR maps and information that can be searchable like google searches and such. These nanobots could also be programmed to implant themselves within certain areas of the brain in order to give the person the sense of being in virtual space and controlled much like flipping the switch on a pc or console except through some form of body/verbal command. Imagine playing WoW this way!

James G
I find Stross's vision of a more or less unified VR world to be skeptical at best. Right at the bank robbery I got to the point of 'Ok, were just gonna start ignoring the rules here arent we..." I can sort of see the VR world as a unified whole, a common language which you plug and play your applications through. HTML for example became a more or less unified means of websites, rather than having dozens of coding languages from dozens of creators, and each requiring a different web browser to view it. Whether its copspace or a map program or a online game all with the same software. But I think it hard to believe that any corporation is would make use of this if they did not have complete and total authority of the information they control in it. The notion that there was a secret tunnel connecting the bank to a area owned by a rival company seems ludicrous at best. It would be like being able to access bank records from They may use the same language to run the site, but I would think they would have a complete lock on all information that is transferred in and out of it. Likewise the administration being powerless to stop the orcs from robbing the bank, I would think that no corporation would ever make use of such a space if they didn’t have the power to protect their investment. I can see the VR world becoming a common hardware piece, like an Iphone, but I doubt they will ever ‘connect’ each area like they had with the fantasy world and the tunnel because it would be a compromise in security no company would ever risk. The VR world would run all the applications, but they would be stand alone and not interacting with eachother. Google maps and tetris may both run on your Iphone, but they most certainly would not share information

David Noonan
Stross' vision was a fairly interesting idea; that everyone will more or less live in a VR overlay of the actual world, using CopSpace or Avalon Four to make life more interesting. When they were at the convention, the "bazaar of the bizarre" as Jack put it, everyone was signed in to a different sort of genre while interacting with one another. I found this to be plausible, but not entirely realistic. I think it would be more likely for us to invent technology that would give us information, much like CopSpace might, just without the fantastic things going on behind the scenes. Perhaps we will have the internet at our fingertips constantly, never needing to get to a computer to google something ever again. Also, I don't think that companies will ever work together to such a degree that they would allow characters hop from one VR to another seamlessly; that just seems incredibly unlikely. Self-driving cars seem like they would be really cool, but they will never happen for two reasons: the security risk (taxis being forced to crash) and the lawsuits if something went wrong.

Response to Wendy: I think that, even with government approval, such technology requires too much intercorporation cooperation to get something like what Stross has described to work. I think it may be possible to have something more along the lines of dead space's interface - when you get close to a door, it might tell you where it leads, or if you need directions, a line might extend from you to your destination, or something along those lines.

Response to John Rampersaud: While cyber bank robberies might be happening now, they are not and never will take place in a VR as similar to an MMO as Avalon Four is. After all, if a bank in WoW were robbed, Blizzard's response would just be to restore the bank to it's previous, backed-up state where everything was still in it, and nobody would really be all that upset after a few days. Also, while the cars parking themselves are pretty cool, I think we're much, much farther from self-driving cars than you seem to think.

James Le
Charles Stross' vision of the future is a place where virtual reality has taken the majority of real life. Real life then becomes an extension of the virtual world rather then the other way around. This vision seems to be realistic because of the ever evolving technology we have today. We appear to have the foundations of what a virtual world is and how it can impact us in the real world. The issue here is that we have the illusion of the passenger side mirror, this future appears to be closer then we think. We have the technology but not many have dared to make attempts at creating such a world. While Stross' future is feasible to a certain extent, an aspect that caught my attention was the cooperation of people to handle a threat in society.

Kyle Long
I think Stross was aiming towards existing reality today and experimenting with its future such as high oil prices, interactive eyewear, and the several other topics. He basically was narrating a grimy vision today’s society. The world in Stross’s vision does not seem impossible because if you compared technology over leaps of two decades, it’s quite impressive how far society advances in the field of technology. He mentioned about CopSpace, real-time virtual reality in the novel and the digital tech becoming widespread. Blizzard Entertainment not too long ago recently released for purchase a pair of eyewear headpiece that literally has a mini TV screen inside the goggles so players could get a virtual world feel rather than sit down on a chair and stare at screen from a distance. All these ideas for technological advances are not far off in terms of being possible but there pops up an issue for the disadvantages and advantages of the digital technology.

Wendy brings up a good point about the VR being right on the tips of our fingers. We have come far enough where this is possible but the problems in the gaming industry and such that these advances are usually put on hold mainly because technology is constantly underfire by political figures. I can’t imagine the amount of hostility games would get if first person shooters became almost physically real to players through means of virtual reality.

Sam tackles an interesting topic about autopilot; Halting State had vehicles that were on automatic controls. Many science fiction movies such as I-Robot and Minority Report had autopilot where in today’s society many airplanes have autopilot to plainly fly the plane for the human pilots that monitor it.

Peter Quattrociocchi III
I found the book rather hard to read, as others have mentioned. Although the entire world, ARG and Avalon 4 thing was interesting, it is definitely different from what gaming is now and where it is heading. The book was sort of enjoyable, but overall the technology in it was definitely fantasy. Virtual Reality is coming close, but I think when the technology reaches homes it will be far different from what people imagine now.

response to Kyle- The mini-TV head-ware (one that was made specifically for WoW) was an April Fools Joke.

response to James- I do believe technology is coming closer to what books of this kind describe. Already low-res "virtual reality" machines are in the works.

Zachary Fritz
I was very irked that the hacked taxi was such a big deal. Don't get me wrong, going sixty kilometer per hour into a wall is scary but I don't see why the manual override is not readily apparent and completely unstoppable by the car's AI. Perhaps Red Team got all the taxis made so that you have to jury rig it to get around Red Team's incredible hacking powers. If I had designed it there would be a big lever for manual override that literally unplugged the computer and took all power assisted AI features off the power circuit for the car.

I did feel that a lot of the ineptitude when separated from technology was a little haunting. Like when they are going through the streets at the end and Elaine is unable to navigate without having her phone on to help her get around. Jack then notes her inability to keep track of time. That did make me worry a little bit, but even today with GPSes and the like many people still know simple things like in what direction the sun sets. I do not foresee the kind of inability in Elaine being exhibited in everyone but I believe in the future I will meet that person who has become utterly dependent.

Jing Wang
I can accept that there will be a future with half reality and half virtual reality, however, I found it hard to agree that the virtual part is going to be the major part. Although we have quite a few people from all around the world spend more time living in the virtual world than the real world, the virtual world is still a projection of the real world. For example, people get together and have a party in Second Life, they may drink and dance in there, but I think a huge part of the fun is coming from the relive of real life parties in their experiences and memories. If one day our technology really becomes what it is like in movies, I wonder if people would still socializing. Since the virtual reality is so powerful and realistic, why don't people just choose to live in a specific virtual space with only the people and things they like to see. This can be as simple as designing your own room in IMVU or pick an instance you like to run in World of Warcraft.

response to Zach - I agree. Our world is moving towards that direction, I have few friends who can no longer writing down Chinese characters on paper efficiently. However, they can still type them out and read them. They just can't remember exactly how to write down certain characters, because the new technology is so easy to use, people don't gets as much practice as they used to.

Alex Morrow

It's interesting to see Stross' idea of the future and the impact that virtual worlds have. No doubt that as demographics widen and popularity spreads that gaming will become a huge force in this world. Many more people's lives will be revolving around a virtual reality - there are already people in WoW who play to farm gold as a profession! (or maybe just a part-time job) - the fact of that matter is that they are getting paid through a virtual interface with real world money. This is a outstanding concept - and not SO much a frightening one. Virtual worlds are truly a new aspect of society that people should explore and develop further. I feel as though the impact cannot be as detrimental is Stross projects it.

However, I must agree with Zach and Jing, and of course, Nicholas Carr, that many of the emergent technologies that we perceive as everyday objects are making an impression on our culture and society. For instance, touching on what Jing said, there are many people who are helpless when it comes to spelling. I see people spell simple words wrong all the time - is that because when they type up school papers they have spell-check that allows them to not memorize spelling rules? And Zach, that part where Elaine uses her GPS make me wonder as well - how dependent will people be in another few decades (judging by the apparent changes we see within technology today)? For instance - I don't ever memorize phone numbers anymore (or for about 5 years now) because they are all stored in my phone. But if I didn't have my phone a pay-phone would be useless to me because I don't know anybody's numbers. My phone also acts as a GPS, so I never go to MapQuest anymore to get directions - but even MapQuest itself is emergent technology - it is information drawn from the Web, so where do we draw the line in today's society. We must conitnue to preserve "knowledge in the head" while supporting it with "knowledge from the world".