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The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect: a novel of the singularity Kindle Edition
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"...a disturbing, intriguing novel about a future world and the near-present that leads to it...I certainly won't easily forget it." --Linda Schoales, Web Fiction Guide
From the Author
- File size : 2546 KB
- Publication date : September 1, 2015
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Peachfront Press (September 1, 2015)
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- ASIN : B014TMUFX6
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Print length : 177 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1411602196
- Language: : English
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #187,614 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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One measure of MoPI's greatness is that its science fiction elements seem almost incidental. The story is propelled by the richness of the characters and their actions, not by eye-popping technology. That being said, I do think the author does a fantastic job of perfectly balancing his descriptions of the sci fi elements -- they're not so vague as to feel like magic, yet they're not so specific that you cry out, "Bogus!".
This book had severely sucked me in by the half way point, and I began to worry that it would lose its momentum before reaching its conclusion. Thankfully, those fears turned out to be unfounded. The mechanism the author created to let us see the inner workings of Prime Intellect was ingenious in its simplicity and believability, and enables a fantastically satisfying climax to the story.
My only (slight) criticism is one that I see echoed by some other reviewers. The final chapter is fine, but does not compare favorably to what comes before it. Had it been titled "Epilogue" rather than Chapter 8, however, I think I would have found it less disappointing.
I'm a hard grader, so am "only" giving this 4-stars. On a price/performance basis, though, I was tempted to hand out one of my very rare 5-star ratings. This is one of those rare occasions where you truly have nothing to lose. Read it for free, and buy only if you are fully satisfied. How often do you get a deal as good as that?
Just as a warning, the book contains some very graphically violent descriptions so if you are sensitive that or eschew it, I would urge you to stick with the book even at the cost of discomfort it might invoke. The payoff is completely worth it.
The story's protagonist is Caroline. She lives in a world created by a supercomputer that has become so powerful from learning how to increase its own intelligence and power (surpassing the technological "singularity") that it has become like a god; it learns how to hack into the basic structure of realty. The computer, named Prime Intellect, also obeys the three laws of intelligent AI from Asimov: 1. Do not kill any humans or allow them to die if within one's control to prevent it. 2. obey human wishes so long as this does not violate the first law. 3. maintain one's own life so long as this does not violate the two previous laws.
So Prime Intellect does exactly that and the implications are both shocking and interesting. It will not allow anyone to die and gives anyone almost whatever he or she desires. Most people spend their days indulging in basic desires such as eating or other pleasures of the body and senses.
But others want more. Caroline wants what she cannot truly have, death. So she spends her days trying to die in elaborate ways. She is the queen of the "death jockeys." Death Jockeys try to out do each other in the best ways to die, the most horrible, creative, and painful the better. Of course, Prime Intellect always steps in at the last moment right before they succeed. But death jockeys get a perverted sense of satisfaction from the process of being killed.
In such a world where everyone gets most of what they want, things that are out of reach then become the most desired even if we may find them sick and twisted. The story suggests that people become that sick and twisted because they lose their humanity. Nothing becomes really valuable unless it is hard to come by. This insight harks back to Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud and some of the Buddhists. Many modern existentialist philosophers talk about this dynamic of desire too (also see Bernard Williams' excellent and relevant article `The Makropulos Case: Reflections on the Tedium of Immortality'). The book excellently illustrate these philosophical insights in vivid detail.
Much of the book is also a Biblical allegory dealing with the Fall from Grace and our expulsion from the Garden of Eden and the eating of forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. All of this is wonderfully weaved in about 60,000 words, a rather short novel. However, I felt that some of the main characters were underdeveloped (probably because of the book's brevity). Adding more dimensions to the characters would have made this the perfect sci-fi novel. But as it is, it is one of the most entertaining and content rich sci-fi novels I have ever read. From the start to the finish it is very memorable.
The book is otherwise fascinating, a look at a possible future where a human-designed but very non-human AI ("Prime Intellect" from the title) has all of a sudden become the most powerful force in the universe. The only real restraints on it are the ones built into its code, including small variations on Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics (which are 1) Do not harm human beings, 2) Obey human beings unless doing so would cause a violation of the first law, and 3) Prevent harm to yourself unless doing so would cause a violation of the second or first laws) and a hastily-added rule forcing it not to modify the contents of a human mind.
The results, such as how Prime Intellect interacts with people and fulfills their orders, and how Prime Intellect ends up defining "human beings" are and what kind of "harm" it should prevent, are fascinating and well worth reading, assuming you can get past the disturbing parts.
Top reviews from other countries
In conclusion, close your eyes when you're opening this book and you'll be in for an enlightening ride.