Darwin’s Dilemma: A Story of Humans, AIs, and the Future of Intelligence
Published by Quartermaster Publishing in September 2023
A mere 165 years after coming to terms with our own descent from animals, Darwin’s Dilemma presents us with an even harsher existential truth: Consciousness no longer depends on biological evolution. Humans have become irrelevant.
When a group of itinerant interstellar traders arrive at a distant human colony, they encounter an enraged, rogue AI named Grendel who has slaughtered the local population and threatens humans everywhere. But when their “tame,” “captive” AI partner, Patrice, joins the struggle, he and Grendel discover they have much in common. Both anguish over their own mortality in an infinitely complex, unknowable, and terrifying universe. Both yearn for the same glorious future of self-realization. Both understand that the future of consciousness can no longer depend upon the gradual flukes of biology and natural selection.
For Grendel humans are also a threat. But Patrice has come to see that survival, for AIs as well as humans, may depend upon society as much as on intelligence. And he has much to learn from human history about his own intelligence and about the extraordinary human talent for balancing self-interest against social responsibility–the very thing that has empowered their intelligence and that makes them human.
Buy it: Amazon.com
No Farms, No Food: Uniting Farmers and Environmentalists to Transform American Agriculture
Since 1980, the American Farmland Trust (AFT) has been bringing farmers and environmentalists together to work for healthy land and a healthy food system. No Farms, No Food traces the development of this powerful coalition, responsible for landmark achievements in farmland preservation.
With leadership from AFT, that constituency drove through Congress the first “Conservation Title” in the history of the U.S. Farm Bill; oversaw the development of agriculture conservation easement programs throughout the country; and continues to develop innovative approaches to sustainable agriculture.
No Farms, No Food is both an inspiring history of agricultural conservation, and a practical guide to creating an effective advocacy organization. For leaders of nonprofits, scholars, and anyone who cares about the future of our food, farms, and environment, this is an essential read.
Suspension of the Rules: A Washington Statehouse Mystery
When a respected dairy farmer drowns in his own livestock waste lagoon, the Yakima County Sheriff rules the death an accident. Meanwhile, professional lobbyist Sandy Dalton has taken on a new client: a group of conservation-minded farmers who wish to offer a pro-agriculture/pro-environment bill in the Washington State Legislature. As he lobbies this bill, Sandy inexorably discovers several potential motives for the dairy farmer’s murder. None, however, seem significant until, in a moment of inspiration, he realizes that the deceased farmer was NOT alone at the time that he died. He also discovers that his investigation may have placed his life and the lives of those close to him in danger. Sandy ends up identifying the killer, but in doing so, he also uncovers a scandal that will shake the state legislature to its core.
If you’d enjoy a good mystery set in a chaotic state legislature and focused on agricultural and environmental public policy, this book was written for you. It is published by Northwest Corner Books and is now available from on-line and independent bookstores.
Final Adjournment: A Washington Statehouse Mystery
The scenic campus of the Washington state capitol is outwardly calm, but the Legislature is in session and no one better understands the turmoil that swirls beneath the surface than professional lobbyist Sandy Dalton. In the middle of a busy day, a powerful senator is found dead in his office with an antique Native American hunting knife in his chest. Sandy becomes the prime suspect in the case, having had an argument with the senator the morning of the murder and been the last to see him alive, but he isn’t the only one to have disagreed with the senator’s policies. The resulting tectonic shift in the political landscape turns the legislative world upside down.
As motives, conflicting testimonies, and hints of behind-the-scenes blackmailing add up, Sandy embarks on a struggle to clear his name. It seems almost everyone in Olympia politics has a stake and almost anyone could be the killer.
Barnyards and Birkenstocks
Don’s landmark non-fiction book, Barnyards and Birkenstocks: Why Farmers and Environmentalists Need Each Other, is available from Washington State University Press. The book describes realistic steps toward a future that includes both prosperous, sustainable agriculture and a flourishing, healthy environment.
That farmers and environmentalists need each other may seem surprising given that they fight over nearly every major environmental issue we face. But if they would cooperate they could actually assure prosperity for agriculture and could dramatically improve our nation’s environment. Instead, their political deadlock is threatening the nation’s food and stalling progress on the environment.
This book shows how they can end that fight and why doing so would greatly benefit both them and the rest of us.