135

The children flew through the forest and, together, they fell. Those who survived the beasts below might someday be giants, standing taller than their present skies.

This story was inspired by the mast-fruiting phenomenon of dipterocarp trees in South East Asian rain forests. By releasing all their fruits in synchrony, dipterocarp populations provide so much food to their predators that not all of their seeds can be eaten. This behaviour has been explored in many published studies. // Statement by the Author

//Robin Hayward is a PhD student @stiruni. They study rain forest recovery after logging and are interested in public scicomm @canopyrobin//

131

She wasn’t perfect at mimicking normal human interaction. But neither was I. And she was built to learn.
“Sound sad,” I told her. “Call and tell them goodbye.”
“Okay,” she answered. Her voice was kind.

In a recent demo, Google Assistant booked an appointment over the phone. Without obviously giving itself away, the AI had a natural conversation with a human at a salon. This release has prompted questions about the Turing test, and a possible AI doomsday. I was interested in the other side of it: what does this mean for anyone who has communication difficulties. Might it be possible to use this technology as an access aid? // Statement by the Author

//Laura loves theatre, spaceships, and stories about personhood (and hope). She tweets at @lc_bradley//

130

We play litter-hopscotch. Wu falls, writhes in plastic nets, splashes into the sea. But my ballerina balance shoes tiptoe across the football field-sized patch of debris. I jump over a bucket. I win.

Babies love to play with cardboard boxes and litter.  So do kids of the future. As the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” grows from its current size of three Frances , one can imagine smaller patches serving as kids’ play zones. With the rising sea-level making future humans live more aquatic lifestyles, advances in tech in textiles and shoes make us even more agile and buoyant. // Statement by the Author

//D.A. Xiaolin Spires sails the waters in her boat of cobbled-together plastic litter. Work in Clarkesworld, Analog and Fireside.//

74

No one believed me, not till it was too late. The whole time we thought we were watching them, they were watching us and learning.

In Jervis Bay, just off the east coast of Australia, an international team of marine biologists saw something strange. Led by professor David Scheel of Alaska Pacific University, the team filmed 15 gloomy octopuses communicating, dwelling together, and even evicting each other from dens. Previously thought to be anti-social, this discovery proved that congregation of octopuses do exist. The researchers nicknamed it ‘Octlantis’. Writer C.M Johnson casts this discovery into an ocean of paranoia. Could her net have caught onto the truth? // Alex Massey

//C.M Johnson is an artist and writer. Her work often deals with anthropology and social sciences. You can find her at @selkiemade.//

23

Rabbis argued which side of the mechitza AIs belonged on. AIs stayed quiet, uninterested in any binary beyond 1s and 0s.

The definition of consciousness has plagued humanity for centuries. As we struggle to define what it means to be conscious, increasingly complex robots with Artificial Intelligence (AI) are prompting questions about ethics, rights, and associated legislation. What will happen if an AI achieves sentience? Jaz Twersky takes this concept and creates a world in which sentient AIs exist and are not only perceived as alive, but also to become members of human religions. How would Orthodox Rabbi’s interpret AIs in a gendered context?

//Jaz Twersky @WordNerdKnitter is a student, journalist, Editor-in-Chief @Triton_News, and knitter. She loves seeing Jewish & queer people in fiction.//

17

“I can’t afford the licence fee for my petfood’s DRM.”
“I heard homebrew stuff can turn pets into beautiful monsters.”
“Oh no,” she smiled.

This story by Alex Hardison was inspired by recent events in the 3D virtual world Second Life. Virtual rabbits across Second Life will fall asleep on Saturday then never wake up, unable to access their food. Ozimal’s DRM-protected virtual food relies on servers which have been shut down by a legal battle.

//Alexander Hardison lives in Sydney with his girlfriend, cat & too-large collection of action figures. His work can be found at alexanderhardison.wordpress.com//