Akis Linardos: A Genre Writer Trapped in the Body of an AI Scientist

Akis Linardos: A Genre Writer Trapped in the Body of an AI Scientist 

By Angelique Fawns


Akis Linardos comes at speculative fiction from a unique angle. Many of us fear the advent of Artificial Intelligence and there is a slew of dystopian fiction to prove it. Akis embraces it, and some of his research explores how artificial intelligence can help with human health. You can find his dark musings in several pro magazines, including Apex Magazine, Maul Magazine and Abyss & Apex.

I met Akis through my Wulf Pack writing group, and I sat down with him to get into the weed about his writing and the future of AI. 

AF: Tell us more about yourself and how you began writing genre fiction?

AL: Sure, so I come from Crete which is a big island on the southest part of Greece. That’s also where I studied for a Biology BSc, a Bioinformatics MSc before moving abroad to do research in AI. I’ve so far lived in Ireland, Germany and Spain working in various research programs and will likely soon move to USA for a PhD in Biomedical AI. The revelation that I wanted to be a writer came not from a book but from the Lovecraftian RPG, Call of Cthulhu. When I played the storyteller for the first time, something clicked. Soon after that, I began drawing as a hobby with the goal of eventually doing a video game; however, that idea was soon replaced by a craving to focus on pure storytelling in the form of writing. It’s been 4 years now since I began writing. 


AF: How does your scientific background influence your writing?

AL: It has certainly affected not only my SF stories but also my fantasy ones. For fantasy, I’ve used biological concepts for a world I’m building—particularly evolution and probabilities. I have 4 short stories in that world, one of which will be published by Abyss & Apex in 2024. The main idea is that people in that world have the ability to manipulate chance and guide evolution to breed species of their own design. In terms of SF, I stick to hard SF using AI concepts to give credibility to the story elements I’m using. These stories are still in circulation, looking for a home.


AF: How do you see AI affecting human life in the next 20 years? 

AL: I believe it will be a tool everyone will use in their respective careers. You’re already seeing this with ChatGPT. I’m asking it for advice on what to improve in my research proposals and it has been amazing. I expect Biomedical AI will become a standard tool in every advanced clinic, with diagnostic systems leveraging data from all over the world using privacy-preserving federated learning systems (my area of expertise) and future clinicians will have to have at least some technical expertise to leverage these tools. 


AF: What is your opinion on AI copy writing programs? 

AL: I like to joke that as a scientist/programmer I’m ecstatic to be replaced by AI while as a writer I’m mildly scared. But if I’m being honest, I’m not that afraid of being “replaced” as a writer by AI any time soon either. On the contrary, I’m excited to experiment with these tools for advice in days I may struggle to edit a story, although I don’t expect them to produce particularly imaginative first drafts. The fine-grained pieces of storytelling that make for masterpieces require human creativity which stems from our individuality, our experiences. I don’t think AI will be able to replicate that unless we reach a point where we build androids that actually “live.”


AF: If an author wants to learn more about AI and how to incorporate it into hard sci-fi where would you suggest they begin their research?

AL: They could ask ChatGPT to tell them more about itself and how it was designed. I’d probably start there as I’m fundamentally lazy. For those that want to dig deeper, some good resources to get started on understanding AI are 3blue1brown on YouTube and his videos on Neural Networks. It’s intuitive math with visualizations explained stunningly. I’d avoid reading scientific papers as they are notoriously difficult to understand and very often written in niche format that non-experts would find it impossible to wrap their heads around (even experts do). However, blogs can be a great resource as they offer articles in a digestible way. Google AI blog and OpenAI blog are some examples to get started.


AF: Who are your influences and favorite books? 

AL: I’d name Neil Gaiman as my primary influence and my favorite book from him is Ocean at the End of the Lane. I’m also a big fan of Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind and have been inspired immensely by it. Another two writer’s names I’d list as top influences include H.P. Lovecraft (who as I mentioned in my previous response was the initial spark for my writing journey) and George Orwell. It would also be fair to mention influences beyond writers such as the animator Hayao Miyazaki, video game designer Hidetaka Miyazaki and his Dark Souls/Bloodborne series, manga artists Junji Ito and his Uzumaki series, Hajime Isayama and his Attack on Titan series, Yoshihiro Togashi and his Hunter x Hunter series, Kentaro Miura and his Berserk series. There’s definitely more, and I’d go as far as listing musicians but I guess I have to stop somewhere.


AF: What is in the future for you and your writing? Any novels planned?

 AL: I have an underworld-themed novel in the works called Death Whispers of Love. It’s about a girl that can hear the whispers of the dead and navigates a maze beneath the mortal world to find her missing mother and escape her abusive necromancer father. The father is also sort of a Hades figure in the world below. In the meantime, I’ll also keep writing short stories, hoping to crack more magazines. Sticking to dark fantasy/SF and horror most of the time. I seem to have a knack for the abyss 🙂


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