Shermer's Last Law

Shermer's Last Law

The Laundry Files is a book series which includes several subjects which are guaranteed to draw my interest, especially when combined:

  • Computer related stuff;
  • Espionage type stuff;
  • Lovecraftey stuff.

They’re very fun, but if I’m being entirely honest: somewhat forgettable. However in book 3, The Fuller Memorandum, author Charles Stross throws up this interesting spin on Arthur C. Clarke’s third law:

As the man put it: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Any sufficiently advanced alien intelligence is indistinguishable from God.

That just about stopped my in tracks. It’s not originally Stross’. In fact, as the title of this post suggests, it’s actually Shermer’s last law.

Stross is talking about eldritch horrors being our ken. Conversely Person of Interest seems to have similar ideas regarding A.I., though it never uses this exact formulation of the idea.

The way I see it, there are two ways of looking at this:

  1. Anything smart and alien enough would be mistaken for God;
  2. Anything smart and alien enough might as well be god.

The second one is the scarier of the two, I think.