Bring on the Killer Robots: It’s Alive! Artificial Intelligence from the Logic Piano to Killer Robots (2017) by Toby Walsh

Its AliveAlthough I’m sure there’s a lot of people who are fascinated by the many nuances of the field of Artificial Intelligence – the myriad applications of this new technology, the ethical issues, the many ways in which AI has already begun infiltrating our lives in subtle ways – I think I’m not wrong when I say that most people will pick up this book with one simple question on their minds: viz., what is the likelihood that we will be wiped out by evil killer robots within the next ten to fifty years; and, if we are, will they at least be sexy killer robots à la Battlestar Galactica, or will they be more like Arnie in Terminator (i.e., terrifying)?

This book does discuss the possibility of killer robots, of course. Its conclusions on the topic will not leave the technologically paranoid quaking in their boots, but the more sensitive reader may nevertheless finish this book with a slight sense of diffuse dread, because Walsh makes clear that even though robots probably won’t want to kill us out of hatred or spite (yay), they might do it… well, accidentally (erm… yikes?). Continue reading

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Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book

I’d like to think I’m not particularly fussy when it comes to picking books to read. That I like to read widely and experimentally. And while this is broadly true, it’s also fair to say that I am a judgemental bitch who definitely makes snap decisions about books without sufficient evidence to back up said decisions. So, in the interests of calling me out on this terrible habit of mine, here are my top ten book turn-ons for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday: the things that will make me want to read a book straight away, laid bare.  Continue reading

Classics Club April: Thoughts on Science, Ageing, Modern Technology, and Frankenstein (In No Particular Order)

classicsclub1This month The Classics Club asked: “Contemplate your favorite classic to date. When was this book written? Why would you say it has been preserved by the ages? Do you think it will still be respected/treasured 100 years from now? If it had been written in our own era, would it be as well received?”

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published in 1818. This was, as you’ve probably realised already, a very long time ago. Just shy of two hundred years ago, in fact. And, like any good two-hundred-year-old, it often gets asked the same question many grandparents get asked (though not the two-hundred-year-old ones, for obvious practical reasons):

Are you even still relevant any more?

Luckily, in the case of Mary Shelley’s classic novel, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, I’d argue that Frankenstein is one of those rare books that is even more relevant now than it was when it was first written. A very ambitious claim, I hear you say. I hope you have some proof to back it up. And I do. Allow me to elaborate…. Continue reading