Monday, 14 July 2014

Book Impressions - A.I. Apocalypse by William Hertling

So I started reading this before realising that this was the second book in the series. It didn't spoil my enjoyment of the story at all as it stands well on its own. The first book is now on my TBR list as I suspect that it will be as good a read as this one was.

One of the strengths of science fiction is that it often tackles big ideas and this book engages with one of my favourites. Two in fact, the first being artificial intelligence and the second the evolution of artificial life. And on the second subject the book really shines. There's some excellent ideas presented here, so much so that  I'd have liked the author to have dug deeper into the technical aspects. This is quite a technical book and skirts what some readers might find uncomfortable, although in my opinion its worth the effort.

The strength of the story is the ideas it's based around, the execution of the story isn't quite as strong. That's not to say that its bad, not by any means. In part it's because the ideas shone so bright they outclass the plot that wraps it. The plot itself also seems a bit convenient in places and is paced a bit too quickly. Although in fairness that's partly due to my wish to learn more of the details.

In summary it's a bit of a mixed bag. As a sci-fi story it's good. As an explanation of a possible computer related doomsday scenario it is superb.

Click image to buy from Amazon

Leon Tsarev is a high school student set on getting into a great college program, until his uncle, a member of the Russian mob, coerces him into developing a new computer virus for the mob’s botnet - the slave army of computers they used to commit digital crimes.

The evolutionary virus Leon creates, based on biological principles, is successful -- too successful. All the world’s computers are infected. Everything from cars to payment systems and, of course, computers and smart phones stop functioning, and with them go essential functions including emergency services, transportation, and the food supply. Billions may die.

But evolution never stops. The virus continues to evolve, developing intelligence, communication, and finally an entire civilization. Some may be friendly to humans, but others are not.

Leon and his companions must race against time and the military to find a way to either befriend or eliminate the virus race and restore the world’s computer infrastructure.

Praise for the Singularity Series:

“Highly entertaining, gripping, thought inspiring. Don’t start without the time to finish — it won’t let you go.”
—Gifford Pinchot III, founder Bainbridge Graduate Institute, author THE INTELLIGENT ORGANIZATION

“A tremendous book that every single person needs to read. In the vein of Daniel Suarez's Daemon and Freedom(TM), William's book shows that science fiction is becoming science fact. Avogadro Corp describes issues, in solid technical detail, that we are dealing with today that will impact us by 2015, if not sooner. Not enough people have read these books. It's a problem for them, but not for the [emergent] machines.”
—Brad Feld, managing director Foundry Group, cofounder TechStars

“A fascinating look at how simple and benign advancements in technology could lead to the surprise arrival of the first AI. And like all good techno-thrillers, the reality of AI is less than ideal.”
—Jason Glaspey, SILICON FLORIST

“An alarming and jaw-dropping tale about how something as innocuous as email can subvert an entire organization. I found myself reading with a sense of awe, and read it way too late into the night.”
—Gene Kim, author of VISIBLE OPS

Click here to buy AI Apocalypse from Amazon (and it's an excellent read)

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