Around 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 thriller by best-selling author 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. At stake is his own life and those of his family and friends.
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 towards 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.
"Awesome! Count me as a fan."
Brad Feld, co-founder of the Foundry Group and Techstars
"I love the concepts in this book!"
Peter James, author of the best-selling Roy Grace series
"Pandora's Brain is a captivating tale of developments in artificial intelligence that could, conceivably, be just around the corner. The imminent possibility of these breakthroughs cause characters in the book to re-evaluate many of their cherished beliefs, and will lead most readers to several "OMG" realisations about their own philosophies of life. Apple carts that are upended in the processes are unlikely ever to be righted again. Once the ideas have escaped from the pages of this Pandora's box of a book, there's no going back to a state of innocence.
Mainly set in the present day, the plot unfolds in an environment that seems reassuringly familiar, but which is overshadowed by a combination of both menace and promise. Carefully crafted, and absorbing from its very start, the book held my rapt attention throughout a series of surprise twists, as various personalities react in different ways to a growing awareness of that menace and promise."
David Wood, Chairman of the London Futurist Group
"Pandora's Brain is a tour de force that neatly explains the key concepts behind the likely future of artificial intelligence in the context of a thriller novel. Ambitious and well executed, it will appeal to a broad range of readers.
In the same way that Suarez's Daemon and Naam's Nexus leaped onto the scene, redefining what it meant to write about technology, Pandora's Brain will do the same for artificial intelligence.
Mind uploading? Check. Human equivalent AI? Check. Hard takeoff singularity? Check. Strap in, this is one heck of a ride."
William Hertling, author of the "Avogadro" series of novels
"I was eagerly anticipating a fiction adventure book on precisely this topic! Very well done, Calum Chace. A timely, suspenseful, and balanced portrayal of AI and the most important decisions humanit