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Non 1001 Book Review: I Still Dream by James Smythe

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I Still Dream by James Smythe
Published in: 2018
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★★]
Find it here: [jen will add amazon link]

This ARC was provided by Harper Collins UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: 1997.

17-year-old Laura Bow has invented a rudimentary artificial intelligence, and named it Organon. At first it’s intended to be a sounding-board for her teenage frustrations, a surrogate best friend; but as she grows older, Organon grows with her.

As the world becomes a very different place, technology changes the way we live, love and die; massive corporations develop rival intelligences to Laura’s, ones without safety barriers or morals; and Laura is forced to decide whether or not to share her creation with the world. If it falls into the wrong hands, she knows, its power could be abused. But what if Organon is the only thing that can stop humanity from hurting itself irreparably?

I Still Dream is a powerful tale of love, loss and hope; a frightening, heartbreakingly human look at who we are now–and who we can be, if we only allow ourselves.

Book Worm’s Thoughts:  Whoever says men can’t write convincing women should read this book, the whole time I was reading I was convinced the author was called Jane and that is because Laura feels like a real, fully rounded female character, someone I might have met in real life.

I loved this look at the nature of AI and how it could go either way in terms of humanity. It provides a timely reminder that perhaps we should all be more cautious of exactly how much information we share online and via things like email and WhatsApp. Do the tech companies that allow us all this freedom to communicate really have our best interests at heart?

This is not a fast paced book and it neatly avoids the typical AI Armageddon that we are used to seeing in films, the AI in this book is not an android or a replicant human robot instead it is something like Siri but more much more advanced, this AI named Organon starts life as a “chat bot” someone for Laura to talk to about her life, someone who will listen and won’t judge but Organon quickly develops beyond this role and begins “thinking” for itself.

What I found fascinating with this book is the insight into coding, how coding is used to control what an AI can do, how limits can be set and more interestingly how a computer can actually take over it’s own coding and develop itself. I love the parts where Organon makes decisions for itself and shows that it has its own kind of moral compass.

I also really appreciate the fact that the central character is a kickass woman who is a coding genius and who can outsmart the big corporations.

Who would like this book? I would recommend this to anyone who likes their sci fi more on the sci side of the equation, anyone with an interest in coding and anyone who has ever questioned exactly how safe or private your online data actually is.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: [Jen will add amazon link]

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

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