It has been so long since I’ve written a book review, I had to spend a few minutes clicking around WordPress to find out how to view my previous few posts.
Today’s book relates to Artificial Intelligence. Sci-fi is a rare genre on this blog since it’s not something I enjoy reading about. It’s usually difficult for me to understand, and the thought of science and robots taking over humanity is quite scary. My stance on Artificial Intelligence is more on the negative side, since I can’t help but to fear how it may overtake humans and humanity, and how big corporations may abuse it, but I do see the benefit.
This book that I’m reviewing today, Sentience, presents both the positives and negatives of AI in a way that is easy to understand yet interesting. It shows the many different perspectives and possibilities regarding the future, and presents very strong arguments from both sides.
by Courtney P. Hunter
get it here
Running from a checkered past, Leo Knox participates in a Turing Test hosted by greedy tech-giant, AlgorithmOS, to score enough money to escape her life of violence and chaos. She enters Eden, a contained, natural preserve where the test is set to take place, with twenty-three others. However, four of the individuals in the experiment are not human, but instead, an advanced form of humanoid AI so indistinguishable that everyone begins to question their nature.
The twenty-four embark on a predetermined journey within the preserve, rigged with obstacles devised by the experiment controllers to elicit human response and emotion. Quickly, madness ensues and divides form, partnering Leo up with Avery Ford, a marine who wears his demons on his sleeve. Romance falls together as the world around them falls apart, revealing the lengths people will go to protect those they love, to achieve monetary gain, or simply to survive.
The story unfolds on the screens of Nathan Aimes, a scientist at AlgorithmOS responsible for monitoring the surveillance over the experiment. Nathan studies the humans involved, only days removed from the immense personal conflicts that sent them in pursuit of the experiment’s generous payout, as they wrestle with where they stand on the polarizing issue of AI and its applications. All the while, he must watch the AI unknowingly fight to prove their humanity, just to leave the experiment unscathed, and simultaneously reconcile the weaponization or commodification that waits for them should they pass the test.
*An ARC was given in return for an honest review.
*T/W: hinted rape, blood, substance abuse, vulgar language, violence
“Can you put a price tag on the infinite complexities of the human mind and the human soul?”Courtney Hunter, Sentience
I don’t usually read Sci-Fi, let alone books relating to Artificial Intelligence but I’m glad I took the chance with this one. A big part of it is definitely the guessing game of who is and who isn’t AI, which was absolutely impossible since even the AI’s backstories were built so well.
Twenty-four people, within them are four AlgorithmOS models and the purpose of the experiment is to test whether they can spot who is and who isn’t human. It’s a lot more characters than I’m used to, and throughout the whole story, I doubt half of them were mentioned more than thrice.
Usually, I’d get very invested into a character and that gives me the drive to continue reading. For this one, it was storyline driven. I kept flipping the page, curious about who was AI. Some get revealed halfway through the book, but usually it’s not who I expected. The AI were so humanlike and even the humans couldn’t tell them apart.
For most of the time, this book made me feel uncomfortable and angry. It was difficult to read at some point because some characters pissed me off. Although it is fiction, it raised the question of how violence can be justified, and how in a group of 23 other people, a large number were compliant when ‘authorities’ were violent towards others.
One of my favourite parts of the book were the scientist’s point of view where you could understand their viewpoint of creating AI and the struggles the scientists and developers were facing. Although they were working in this together, their motives and morals were different. Although I personally believe that AI could possibly create more harm, both sides of the argument were presented strongly, which I really admired.
In the end, I think this book was enjoyable. It’s not for the faint-hearted, note the warnings, but it’s for those who want a book that makes them yell in frustration, get angry at the characters and leave them shocked at the many unexpected twists and turns for when the grand scheme is revealed. This is a book that made me marvel at how twisted humans can truly be.