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Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears Paperback – November 19, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Liquididea Press (November 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984755705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984755707
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (322 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #696,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Avogadro Corp is a tremendous book that every single person needs to read... Avogadro Corp shows that science fiction is becoming science fact." 
--Brad Feld, author, VC & Co-Founder, Tech Stars & Foundry Group

"Highly entertaining, gripping, thought inspiring. Don't start without the time to finish." 
-- Gifford Pinchot III, founder Bainbridge Graduate Institute, author The Intelligent Organization

"An alarming and jaw-dropping tale about how something as innocuous as email can subvert an entire organization." 
-- Gene Kim, author of Visible Ops


Foreword Reviews Science Fiction Book of the Year for 2011
Science Fiction Winner - DIY Book Festival 2011

About the Author

William Hertling is the author of Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears, A.I. Apocalypse, and the forthcoming The Last Firewall. A fifteen year veteran of the technology industry, he holds ten patents on software and internet technology, developed web and social media strategy at Hewlett-Packard, and is a frequent speaker at SXSW Interactive. He’s been building online communities since 1986 when he ran seven phones lines into the back of his Apple //e to create an online chat system.

More About the Author

William Hertling is the author of the award-winning Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears, A.I. Apocalypse, and The Last Firewall. His near-term science-fiction novels about realistic ways strong AI might emerge have been called "frighteningly plausible", "tremendous", and "must read".

He's been influenced by writers such as William Gibson, Charles Stross, Cory Doctorow, and Walter Jon Williams.

William Hertling was born in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up a digital native in the early days of bulletin board systems. His first experiences with net culture occurred when he wired seven phone lines into the back of his Apple //e, creating an online chat system.

He currently resides in Portland, Oregon. By day he works on web and social media for HP. Follow him on twitter at @hertling or visit his blog williamhertling.com.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 101 people found the following review helpful By JM on February 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I downloaded this as an ebook based on some very good target marketing on Facebook. I have "friended" the SingularityHub page on FB. I was looking forward to reading this as I really like this type of book.

However, I was pretty disappointed in the book. This is not to say that this isn't a good first novel, but it's not a great one and I really don't think it deserves all the 5 star reviews.

Here is what I liked about it:
- the subject matter, always very interesting to see what people come up with for AIs and the Singularity.
- the price for an unknown writer's ebook
- it wasn't difficult to read, but the author's style needs to be honed

Here is what I didn't like about it:
- I often felt like I was being lectured to
- A lot of "telling" not "showing" in terms of situation
- It was just too difficult to suspend disbelief. Middle East peace based on emails? There was just too much dependency on the concept that no one actually talks to anyone else anymore. Especially, in politics.
- Characters lacked depth for example there was absolutely no sense that the head of Avogadro Corp was very upset at all about any of it. I think I get the personality that he was trying to create but I just don't think it worked.

Similar books that I liked:
Daemon by Daniel Suarez (very similar topic in some ways) Daemon
Accelerando by Charles Stross Accelerando (Singularity)
Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge Rainbows End
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48 of 54 people found the following review helpful By J. Weiss on December 12, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
William Hertling sets "Avogadro Corp" in modern day Portland, Oregon. Avogadro Corp is a thinly veiled fictional Google, with AvoMail as key aspect of the story. While "Avogadro Corp" is the first in a series of three (so far), it easily stands alone as a terrific, and stunningly believable, account of how the first sentient artificial intelligence might accidently arise. In a man vs. machine conflict, our protagonist David Ryan, as a contemporary Dr. Frankenstein, battles to destroy the thing he creates. A majority of the characters are well-developed and distinct; the ones that are a bit one-dimensional are minor characters. The pace of the book is quite fast with only a few tangential story arcs to mentally maintain. In fact, I made the "mistake" of starting the book at bedtime; I was finished by lunch the next day. I simply could not put it down.

David Ryan, a software engineer at Avogadro Corp, is working on a recommendation engine for their flagship product, AvoMail. The recommendation engine, Email Language Optimization Program (ELOPe), is designed to provide suggestions for better wording for your outgoing emails so that the recipient is more receptive. When the project is in jeopardy of being cancelled, David inserts a hidden self-preservation directive into ELOPe and allows it to autonomously rewrite outgoing emails related to the project. Once ELOPe begins redirecting corporate funds and arming itself in offshore floating data centers, David and coworker Mike set about trying to take down ELOPe with the help of I-trust-paper-not-computers internal auditor Gene.

One aspect of Hertling's novel that I found intriguing was that by never revealing the internal motivation of ELOPe, you too are brought on this journey of how to destroy the "ghost in the machine." Also, as a resident of Portland, I enjoyed that the book was set here and incorporates its coffee culture.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By G. Thatcher on December 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I first read this book, I really thought that it was a fanciful look at something that could never occur. It was a fun read and then I put it aside. Then about 3 months later, I started noticing that Google Mail was getting smarter and smarter. It seemed that if I sent an e-mail about a product I was thinking about, within a day or so, an ad would show up. I also realized that if I wrote something like "attached file" in the e-mail and didn't actually attach a file, they would warn me. Pretty smart stuff, but then I remember reading this book. This made up story about an intelligent system that could never actually occur, right??? I went back and re-read the book. Holy Smokes, this could/is really happening. How far-fetched is this really?

I think Will Hertling has hit it out of the park with this novel. I look forward to reading more from him.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Matt Mansfield on October 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
William Hertling's "Singularity Series" of three sequential novels is a fast-paced and entertaining look at how the relationships between people and their technology creations might evolve over the next 50 years:

* Avogadro Corp.: The Singularity is Closer than it Appears
* A.I. Apocalypse
* The Last Firewall

The approach goes way beyond traditional sci-fi robotics to the essential technology programming that changes into much more advanced forms than anticipated. And that's where the fun comes in.

A central concept to this series is "singularity" which takes on different meanings as the broad story develops. The convergence of people and technology reaches a surprising state by the conclusion.

Each book of Hertling's trilogy is reviewed individually with a common introduction (on its Amazon site location) but with references to the other books since the storylines and the four main human characters - Mike Williams, Rebecca Smith, Leon Tsarev and Catherine Matthews - play central and, to some extent, on-going roles in specific books.

One other note: throughout each of the books there are technological terms and discussions, which add the patina of plausibility to the immediate story and characters. Do not feel overwhelmed or try to grasp the meanings unless so inclined. Their immediate value is to provide a "what and how is it happening" at the moment - an updated twist on Alfred Hitchcock's MacGuffin.

During the mid 20th century the long-held idea of mind and body as separate entities coming into coincidental existence at birth was rejected in favor of a more evolutionary explanation for the development of the brain. The earlier view was characterized as "the ghost in the machine.
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