About half the scientists researching artificial intelligence (AI) think that a conscious AI at or beyond human level will be created by 2050. If they are right, the consequence could be an intelligence explosion, in which the AI rapidly and enormously exceeds human cognitive ability.
Pandora's Brain is a science and philosophy thriller by best-selling writer Calum Chace. It uses the issues raised by the coming machine intelligence explosion as a platform for a fast-paced and thought-provoking adventure story.
Set in the very near future, it features Matt, a shy but engaging and resourceful student who discovers that his recently deceased father was involved in research that could enable the construction of the world's first conscious machine.
Matt's enquiries lead to him being kidnapped, as he is caught in the crossfire between two groups pursuing that goal - one led by a Russian billionaire and another backed by the US military. Matt has to do more than simply survive. He has to harness these powerful forces to his own ends, and his life as well as his family's is at stake.
A dramatic seaborne rescue operation, a series of brutal murders and other filmic action scenes follow. In the course of his adventures, Matt discovers that the potential upside of creating machine intelligence includes immortality and godlike powers of understanding and being - but the potential downside is immediate extinction, or worse. As he is drawn deeper into his adventure, he becomes both the symbol and the victim of a global struggle over the approach to be taken toward this powerful new technology. A landmark decision at a meeting of the UN General Assembly forces Matt to make a fateful decision, which sparks the story's final twist.
This book really spoke to me
Matt Metcalf is smart, maybe too smart. His father has recently died when he decides to follow in his footsteps and go to university to study neuro-biology (like his father). Little does he know, this begins steps towards and incredible “journey” that Matt and his friends and family will take on into the world of Artificial Intelligence, compassion and what it truly means to be “alive.”
The audio production on this was really well done – definitely done in a studio (or a well done home studio). The narrator, Joe Hempel, has a great voice and I found him to be very easy to follow. I never once felt like he was boring or difficult to understand. So much to the point that the voice of Matt if I were to read this (instead of listening) would be in Joe Hempel’s voice. Hempel does a great job with the drama of the whole thing, but I would call his narration a combination of a straight narration and a dramatization. While he changed his voice and how he spoke for some characters, he did not do accents or seem to dramatically change it for each character within the book.
This book really spoke to me. I’ve been reading other science fiction about AI recently and really been diving deeper into it. This is an incredibly well written story. While I have no idea if the science held within the pages is accurate or even possible, Calum Chace has done a wonderful job explaining it in a way that makes it feel totally believable and plausible. Matt, the main character is incredibly easy to fall for. He is a great “kid” who is easy to root for. Chace does a great job at developing him this way and I believe it was done for a reason. I wasn’t sure how long this was going to take to finish, but I ended up breezing through it because I HAD to know the ending.
This is a great read if you are at all interested (or scared) of AI. I do warn you, this will scare you and may even make you think differently about AI and what it means to be alive/have a soul.
Audiobook provided for review by the narrator.
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