I originally read this in 2011 when i first got a Kindle Keyboard — yes, i really am that old — and when i put this website together i remembered totally enjoying it, so it went straight onto “The Pile” for a second reading so i could write a nice review.
So, imagine a future where a corporation could gather all your photos, videos, emails, messages, credit card history, travel history, friendships, family history, medical history, etc., etc., and put it all into a computer with AI technology and load that into a body that looks just like you.
So while the AI would know your whole life history, would know what all your friends and family looked liked and how each relationship was weighted in your life, it would also look and behave almost exactly like you. Now factor in that you’re dead, and your lonely husband is wealthy enough to afford one of these machines to replace you, his dead wife.
This is the story of one such AI simulacrum, known as a Nymph, and her predecessor’s widower. And it’s good.
Is she nothing but a stupidly expensive sex toy to assuage a billionaires cravings for his dead wife, or is she something more, can she be something more, or, more nefariously, was she designed to be something more?
If you’re someone who has read and enjoyed Isaac Azimov’s robot books — i’m fairly sure you’ll enjoy this just as much.
Well written, thoughtful, well considered, and almost plausible in the not too distant future. My only complaint is that Jill hasn’t wrote more.
Reading this book does make you think about what current technology could be moving toward with big corporations like facebook, google, and many others. All gathering what is essentially infinite amounts of information on their users while also at the same time investing heavily into AI technologies. As the book states,
“Our programmers are scouring every available database for details about Suzanne — remnants of e-mail correspondence, school and medical records, news reports, passports and visas, credit transactions, web profiles, data mines — any infotrash they can dig up.”
Now consider just how much information is stored on servers all over the world concerning you and your life. And now consider what an advanced AI could do with that information when it’s programmed with your identity in a world that’s governed and controlled by computers and computer transactions. An AI does not need a body in a world controlled and run by technology to take over your life, it just needs the information that you have given away freely. How long before you are no longer relevant, how long before you are no longer needed?
There’s lots of food for thought in this book. So get eating and thinking.