This inventive and thrilling sci-fi novel hits a particularly timely topic: What happens when AI advances to the point of transcending into consciousness? And what role would morality play if any in guiding the AI’s behavior? Given all the flurry of current news around the astonishing progress of diverse AI’s, this speculative novel grabs your attention with a thriller that races across the world, from Phoenix to Hong Kong to London to Afghanistan and more in between, as two powerful AI’s seek to find and destroy each other.
The novel switches between the present time and 2042, opening in with the death of the high-tech, entrepreneurial father of a Boston math professor. Professor Willian Ell has flown to London for his estranged father’s funeral, meeting up with his sister who has flown in from her family farm in New Zealand. Ell’s father has left him a small black notebook filled with cryptic writing and a safety deposit box in Zurich with a large green diamond with what turns out to be advanced tech embedded inside it. Ell’s assessment of the jewel and following his Dad’s footsteps leads him to a secret research facility outside of Phoenix that hosts phenomenal computing power. Along for the ride: London auction house appraiser Chang Feng Zhao with ties to Chinese mafia, Trina Shaw the senior programmer of the research facility who’s flooded by anxieties, and FBI senior agent Gray who has been searching for the source of a huge, cover-up stock market disruption.
The novel, translated from the German and written under a pseudonym, deftly tackles quantum computing, brain-computer interfaces, and in what direction future AI could evolve. Only flaw: I found the translation to English from German to be filled with English cliches and less than sophisticated wording in places.
But all this get wrapped up in an edge of your seat plot, that has me definitely seeking more from this author!
Thanks to P. Arnold Ahrweiler and NetGalley for an advanced reader’s copy.