The title is just a there for you to consider. I think it’s true. I’m not going to back up that thought in this email though. Maybe sometime in the future I’ll explain this more.
I’ve been spending my free mental time this last week trying to decide what I think about the human-like consciousness artificial intelligence character archetype. I listened to Blake Crouch’s Summer Frost from the Forward Collection this week and was offended by how far from any guessable future reality his AI character is. I kept asking myself: “Is this even science fiction?” How do you feel about books, movies or TV shows centered on an AI which is inexplicably able to have human-like consciousness? Haven’t read science fiction in a while? Here are a 3 books I’d recommend with and without AIs and one I think does AI well but don’t really like.
Ark isn’t about an AI. It’s about one of the last women on earth as humanity flees an incoming astroid. It’s an example of how science fiction can help us appreciate what we have as it contemplates the loss of the known world. This is also a novella from the Forward Collection I mentioned above.
This book isn’t about AI either (trend?). It’s about a group of soldiers who travel at light speed in a never ending war. The result of continued light speed travel is that each time they return home generations have come and gone and so culture has changed. What I admire about this book is that it uses a real scientific theory to explore the philosophical idea of future shock. This union of science and philosophy is where I think science fiction shines.
This book is about an AI (!). The AI controls a spaceship bringing humans to a new world many generations away. The story focuses on a single generation where the AI’s steward attempts to teach the AI to learn to tell stories. This experience unlocks the AI’s consciousness and the book delves into questions about learning, story and love. Honestly, the last few chapters capture something about non-romantic love that I think we often forget. I should read this again.
This book is about an AI and it’s also the book I don’t really like mostly because the story was hard for me to get invested in. That said, Ann Leckie uses AI to talk about what it would be like to not understand gender in a way which fits well within her world but also doesn’t use a trumped up inevitability of AI to give outweighed emotional significance to her point of view on the matter. And because of this, I think it’s a good book for seeing how AI should be used in the genre.
I’d love to hear your book recommendations. I find myself reading more these days and thus need to build up a recommendation list again. To those of you who provided Wright Brothers recommendations last week. Thanks. I’m still not sure I’m ready to read history books but having some options to think about has been good.