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Interview with Michael Woudenberg

He is an aspiring Polymath from Tucson, Arizona, with a background in advanced technologies such as autonomy, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cyber, aerospace, national security, and weapon systems across a variety of companies from tech startups to Fortune 150 companies.

He is the founder of Polymathic Disciplines, providing Systems Innovation to unlock the full potential across multiple domains and disciplines. He is also authoring “counterintuitive insights from technology, innovation, philosophy, psychology, and more” at Polymathic Being

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I’m kind of an open book, so that’s a bit hard. Two interesting things are that I’ve done a ten-day fast with nothing but coffee and water. The second is that I was able to hold my breath for over five minutes when I was freediving in Florida.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
A. Paradox
is Book One of The Singularity Chronicles. I have four more books planned, which follow two separate arcs developed in the first book.

Q.3 What inspired you to write The Singularity Chronicles?
It started about five years ago when I was part of an online group called Mixed Mental Arts. The idea was to grapple with the complex problems of life, and that meant starting with the most complex problem; what it means to be human.

It blended psychology, biology, sociology, and more in a way that was focused on becoming better humans. My goal was to take these concepts and make them more interesting and accessible to everyone.

A favorite genre of mine, Science Fiction, provided a wonderful canvas to begin, and AI made a great literary foil to explore. I created an outline, main characters, etc., and then hit the blank page problem. In December 2022, my wife told me, “Just write it!”

Easy for her to say… Then when ChatGPT and the current zeitgeist of AI exploded, I knew I had to do it now.

It’s a chaotic adventure that blends Science Fiction with Science Fact, and as the tagline goes: “In the battle over Advanced AI, will we lose our humanity or learn what truly makes us human?”

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
My main character is a woman, and for some reason, I found that to be absolutely necessary for the tone and tenor of the book. I had my wife providing her empathetic insight to help ensure I wasn’t writing a woman as if they were a man.

What I think I could have done better is that Kira, my main protagonist, is a very strong and confident woman, and I think I could have explored her unique feminine perspectives better. I’m doing that right now with book two, Integration, where Kira is the lead again, and this time, the exploration is the balance between the masculine and the feminine.

Q.5 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I had an outline and an end goal for this book and my next books. I didn’t have a formula per se. I once heard a statement, “Good writing should surprise the author,” and I rolled with that and was often surprised.

A lot of people get into deep world-building, and I tried to not do that. My characters are well developed when they need to be, but some key characters I leave to the imagination to flesh out their identity.

My writing was flexible as I went, some sections got ripped and split, and others got inserted as I worked out how to achieve my end goal.

Q.6 How do you see the future of science fiction literature? Will sci-fi maintain its independence or intertwine with other literary genres?
I think Science Fiction by name will remain independent. I think it allows us to explore even modern topics in a way that can play with them.

In today’s political landscape, there’s a lot of sensitivity to topics, and sci-fi is a way to dig into them, probe, and play in ways that we can better understand who we are as humans.

Q.7 How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
This book took five years of thinking about it and two months to write and edit before sending it off to a professional editor. From start to publication, it was a little over four months.

The second book is moving a bit slower, but I’ve also got a non-fiction tech-leadership book in the works as well while I’m also working the kinds out of a first book launch and promotion.

Q.8 What’s your writing schedule while working?
I’m a binge-writer. Some days there’s nothing; some days, I knock out three chapters. I’m not a fan of the ‘write something every day.’ That works for some people, and I’m not one of them. I also have to craft this around other technology writing I do on Substack at

Q.9 Is classic science fiction literature different from modern science fiction literature? Have the key aims of the genre changed considerably or not?
I don’t think there should be a difference? Maybe I’m biased, but my favorite is classic SciFi. Heinlen’s Stranger in a Strange Land has a big impact on this book, as does Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. My SciFi reading tends to gravitate toward these sorts of styles anyway, so I don’t have a great comparison.

Q.10 What do you think are the main reasons for the popularity of science fiction? To what extent has the film industry helped in popularizing the genre?
I think it’s the freedom to explore complex topics and ideas under the auspices of fiction. Great authors help us learn about ourselves, our societies, and our technologies in ways non-fiction cannot.

Good Science Fiction is also grounded in reality, whereas Fantasy ends up being more forgiving, where you can just add magic or other plot devices to explain things away.

The film industry relies on good writing, so we’re back to the topic of writing SciFi. I think film helps people visualize it better, but in some ways, those visualizations distract from the underlying concepts the book is actually exploring.

That’s one risk Paradox has is that if you made it into a two-hour SciFi action, you’d lose the exploration into what it means to be human.

Q.11 Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing? Tell us about your marketing campaign?
This is my first foray into publishing, so I’m still learning this. SciFi is a hard genre to break into, and the readers have high expectations. I’ve done some marketing on Meta and Amazon, but really, right now, I’m just learning as I move forward and adapting as appropriate.

I wrote the book for anyone. SciFi is the literary background to make it possible, but what I hope is that it also might interest new readers in SciFi. That said, if anyone has some good insights, I’d love to learn and adapt!

Q.12 Science fiction has a long history. Which era do you consider the most influential period in the whole history of the genre?
I think the 1960s-80s was transformative. They were truly exploring science, humanity, and the future that could be achieved or should be avoided.

Q.13 If your book was made into a movie, whom would you like to play the role of Kira and Noah?
I don’t know that I have an answer to this. I’m not going to drop some big names because I think this could do as well with someone new to the screen.

The key would be whether they couldn’t bring levity and an explorative mindset for Kira and an intense drive, yet with questioning for Noah.

Q.14 Who designed your book cover? How do you select them?
A. Matt Madonna
has been my right-hand man on the art, book cover, and promotional material. He and I go all the way back to the Mixed Mental Arts group, so he knows and loves the concept and wants the chance to grow his art background into something bigger.

It’s been great working with him and watching his art mature as we work through all the hurdles of first-time publishing and all the new tools available today. He’s a fantastic collaborator and artist, and I 100% recommend him to anyone looking to publish.

Q.15 What advice do you give to aspiring writers who want to explore themes related to sci-fi in their writing?
The main aspect is playful curiosity. There’s a huge risk to lecturing about what could be instead of exploring what is, which allows what could be to manifest itself better. The best SciFi does this; the worst SciFi just punches down on who we are today.

Q.16 How do you select the names of your characters?
I actually used ChatGPT4.0 and asked it to provide lists of names based on short descriptions of the characters and the high-level plot of the book. I asked ChatGPT to explain why it thought they were good, and it was very useful to ensure I wasn’t biasing myself toward the known or toward my own milieu.

Q.17 What do you want readers to take away from your books?
There are two things:

1. I want them to learn more about what makes us human and what that means in relation to AI.

2. I want them to end up wondering which side they’d pick; the pro or the anti-AI.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
I’d like to meet Davinci and get into his brain about polymathic thinking. He is lauded so highly, but I think his brilliance wasn’t expertise but broad exploration, insatiable curiosity, humility, and constant reframing of problems to find new solutions. I hope that’s true because that’s how I’m crafting my life focus, and I think talking to him would be fantastic.

Q.19 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
One of my favorite and most impactful books was Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Specifically, the concept of reframing what looks obvious as Ender discovers ‘The Enemy’s Gate is Down’ and the impact.

Q.20 Share the experience of your writing journey so far?
My writing has been a long journey over many years. I’ve been a non-fiction writer across multiple domains and disciplines and currently write Polymathic Being on substack. Here we explore counterintuitive insights from technology, innovation, philosophy, psychology, and more.

Paradox was my first foray into Fiction, and what I loved was how so much of my non-fiction was able to be woven in to make the story so much more impactful, grounded, and real.

Even more, my non-fiction brings to bear the stark reality of the risks and consequences Kira and Noah face as they struggle over the development of advanced AI. Truly, in the battle over AI, they do learn what it means to be human, and yet, in the chaos, so many lose their humanity.

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