The Price of Free Will: The Singularity Cometh (英語) ペーパーバック – 2010/4/9
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The Price Of Free Will, by Christopher Dorda
If you had the capacity to change the world for what you thought was "the better," would you? Even if it redefines what it means to be human? What if you knew it would kill you? Alistair Maxwell, genius, hacker, some might even call him a precognitive sociopath, is thrust into this very dilemma by an assassination attempt on his life.
Through hard work and study, Alistair Maxwell gains access to every bit of information available on the planet and starts making connections. What he discovers sends him into a schizophrenic paranoid depression. Corruption, war, ignorance, starvation, poverty, exploitation, genocide... A single ever-repetitive thought permeates his existence: "Someone has to do something about this!"
In 2005, in a quantum reality very close to our own, Alistair Maxwell is about to exercise his free will. Employing his unique precognitive abilities, knowing that his own death is assured whether he fails or succeeds, he attempts to end the suffering of the world because he believes that he can, and because he believes it's the right thing to do.
This is the story of an event that hasn't occurred in our reality, but deep down inside, we all know, it's only a matter of time before it does.
The Singularity Cometh.
The Technological Singularity
"Technological Singularity refers to the hypothesis that technological progress will become extremely fast, and so make the future unpredictable.
"Although technological progress has been accelerating, it has been limited by the basic intelligence of the human brain, which has not changed significantly for millennia.
"However with the increasing power of computers and other technologies, it might soon be possible to build a machine that is fundamentally more intelligent than man.
"If such a machine were built, then the machine itself could build a more intelligent machine. If the machine is more intelligent than man, then presumably it would be better at building a more intelligent machine. The more intelligent machine would then be better at building an even more intelligent machine. This process might continue exponentially, with ever more intelligent machines making bigger increments to the intelligence of the next machine." -Wiki
"In other words, here comes Maxwell's AI, and Humanity will never be the same."
"I. J. Good described this as an "intelligence explosion." It is quite different from normal technological progress because the underlying intelligence is being increased. The term Technological Singularity reflects the idea that the change may happen suddenly, and that it is very difficult to predict how such a new world would operate. It is also unclear whether there would be any place for man in a world containing very intelligent machines." -Wiki
Christopher Dorda was born in Montreal, Quebec, in 1973. The first decade of his life took him and his family across the globe, from Tunisia to Switzerland. The second decade of is life was spent in Canada where he went to school and excelled at two things: science and being sent to the principal's office. The third decade of his life was spent immersed in theoretical physics while enthusiastically exploring the concept of "living life as art."
Now at 37, somewhat older, hopefully wiser, and definitely humbler, he lives in the Montreal borough of St-Henri with the love of his life.
A Note From The Author
You never forget your first love. Similarly, every novelist I ever met told me that if I survived the life thrashing associated with this career choice, I'd never forget my first novel either. It's hard letting go, but the future awaits! Alons-y!
Enjoy the delinquency. Find me. Write me.
I could mostly overlook the basic editing problems, though they were common enough to be distracting. But the plot was muddled and the characterization was painful.
The main character is simply too accomplished to find plausible. Alistair is simultaneously the best computer hacker on the planet, the smartest person alive, implausibly charismatic (the ladies, they love him), a martial arts expert capable of taking out six guys in a barfight, supremely wealthy (though that's explained), and a top-notch street racer. Oh, and he has precognitive powers and an AI ally who controls not just all the computers in the world, but everything that uses electricity. I may have missed where that was explained.
The plot lacks tension. It feels like Alistair has won 30% of the way through the book, and yet he keeps foretelling his own death, and saying how it's vital that it not be avoided or interfered with. He even foretells who will betray him. But when his death finally comes, it doesn't feel like it accomplished anything, and the mechanism of the betrayal... well, that would be a spoiler, but I found it implausible.
One kind-of-serious pacing problem: right before the end, Alistair and his friend David engage in a horsepower-and-testosterone car race down a mountain. Nothing is at stake but bragging rights between friends, and the whole, very long scene seems to be written by a gearhead for other gearheads. No training wheels are provided for readers who don't know street racing lingo.
Sounds like a bad book. But it's also brilliant. The plot seems to be all pretense: a shoddy construction on which to hang all sorts of fun and interesting philosophical musings. The book does a great job of capturing a sense of societal hopelessness and despair, our fear of the future in a futureless world. In that sense, it's kind of like a centrist Atlas Shrugged, without Ayn Rand's inhumane policy positions or general air of self-aggrandizing dickishness. The book also has lots of enjoyable, funny moments.
So "let the buyer beware," but not "let the buyer not buy."
This is the first and only novel I've read about the subject matter where the AI's behaviour is plausible. Dorda addresses anthropomorphisation like no author I've previously read.
The chip sets, the logic, the very ethos of the AI, as well as its pathos is addressed both morally and technologically. No stone is left unturned.
From the first page, the novel is impossible to put down. It's exemplary modern science fiction.
What makes this novel stand out leagues above the rest is its humanity. Without taking sides, the novel shows the best and worst of humanity, as well as the best and worst of what could happen if technology, and its development, is left in the hands of the delinquent intellectuals of this planet.
I can't recommend this novel enough!
Anyone who is interested in artificial intelligence, anyone who is interested in what the future of mankind will become, anyone who wants to explore the reality of The Singularity; you will love this novel.
Christopher Dorda not only gives us a deep human world, filled with plausible yet flawed geniuses, he creates a world that makes sense, and a world that reflects reality like few authors have ever done before.
I'm trying as hard as I can not give anything away, but if you like quantum physics, if you want to expand your views on how quantum phenomena affects genetics, and the real world possibilities of a genius inventing an AI that will surpass him not only in intellect, but also in delinquency and potential, this is the novel for you!
In my opinion, this is a novel for the ages that will never get old, never get tired, a novel worth re-reading over and over again just to gleam a bit of its subtlety.
With this novel, Christopher Dorda takes his place among the best of the best, among the Authors whose novels must be read. His grasp of technology and man's place in the grand scheme of things is par none.
The characters are perfectly flawed humans; the storyline is epic beyond belief; precognition, artificial intelligence, and most likely the best and most believable car racing sequences ever put to words!
Dorda's story is a tragedy, from the first chapter, you know what will happen, the main character will die. The chapters are numbered in reverse! It's a countdown to the end! The structure is original and addictive, and impossible to ignore. It only takes a few words, and you're hooked!
I can't remember the last time a sci-fi novel has affected me in this way! The Price of Free Will: The Singularity Cometh is not only the best novel about artificial intelligence I've ever read, it's one of the best novels about the human condition ever written!
Buy this novel. You will not regret it!