Living in the age that we do, I found this book quite scary to be honest, but also incredibly touching and moving, and human.
Our main character is Laura Bow, and we join her as a teenager, doing all the usual teenage things, spending all day with her mates at school then chatting all night to them on the phone about what happened at school – same thing I did, however, Laura clearly is a little younger than me as she has the internet at home – albeit the screetchy dial up connection that I remember from my MSX (yeah, I had one of those, not an amstrad….), and you had to pay for it via the phone line (I’d forgotten all about that!).
We discover that Laura is quite clearly an IT genius, using internet chatrooms to seek advice occasionally when coding her own AI “Organon” – using it initially as someone to talk to – as therapy – after her dad disappeared without explanation.
We follow Laura through her life, leaving school, her first job, love, marriage, dealing with dementia, pregnancy, death, betrayal, as well as always wondering what happened to her father and why he disappeared. Oragnon is always there, asking what she wants to talk about, and occasionally asking other questions Laura does not know how it knew how to do – scaring her a little.
I’m not going to give away the plot more than what I already have done. It’s a really good book – it makes you think about how we use AI in our lives, and the consequences – especially considering what has happened recently with our information on a certain social media platform, and (for those in england) GDPR which surprised and worried me about how many companies have my email address, but have been silent for years.
We have Siri, Alexa, etc which we just shout at to do something for us or find something out for us, play some music, etc….it’s just the start, and this book makes you realise it could be terrifying if it all goes wrong. But it also will be amazing if it doesn’t…..
It’s ironic as I finish this post, Siri reminds me that my countdown is up to take something out of the oven.
My thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins for a copy of this book.