Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Turing Exception (Singularity) (Volume 4) Paperback – March 5, 2015
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
About the Author
William Hertling is the award-winning author of Avogadro Corp, A.I. Apocalypse, The Last Firewall, and The Turing Exception. These near-term science-fiction novels explore the emergence of artificial intelligence, coexistence of humans and smart machines, and the impact of social reputation, technological unemployment, and other near-future issues.
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $1.99 (Save 60%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Top customer reviews
The "singularity" concept that runs throughout Hertling's novels and seemingly reaches a conclusion in "The Turing Exception" refers to speculations by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge and futurist Ray Kurzweil. They anticipate that computers will become smarter than humans and can design themselves to no longer need humans. The anticipated date for this event is about 2030, close to the onset of Hertling's series.
The action spans a period of about twenty years starting originally about 2026 and for these last episodes from 2043 - 2046, or perhaps later depending on how you measure time in relativity terms.
Several characters are continuations from the earlier novels - Catherine "Cat" Matthews, her husband Leon Tsarev, Mike Smith, a delightful robotic persona Helena and the return of ELOPe, a benign and omnipotent Artificial Intelligence (AI). While the relationships are clear, it certainly helps to be familiar with their prior history bringing them to where they are in the current events.
A new character, Ada, the four-year old daughter of Cat and Leon, with exceptional powers is introduced and has a memorable role at the tale's conclusion. No doubt, the name was selected by Hertling as homage to Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, and the mid-19th century inspiration for the concept of a universal machine capable of running multiple programs as well as integration of technology and humanities among future developers.
As with his earlier work, the author extends the capability of technology to provide plausibility for the scope and speed of developing events - sort of like Alfred Hitchcock’s MacGuffin. In this novel it is sentient nanotechnology in the form of flexible and self-replicating micro bots being guided by a coalition of computer programs ominously named XOR under the leadership of a shadowy entity, Miyako.
And they are up to no good.
The opening scenario gives a vivid and compelling portrait of what might go wrong if actions managed by automated programs were unexpectedly overridden by other priorities without visibility into local conditions. It is sort of an indictment of globalization - a subtle theme that runs throughout the book. The alternative provided is the home base of the Resistance on Cortes Island off Vancouver, British Columbia, an idyllic back-to-nature retreat.
There is action aplenty as the storyline follows several different perspectives: Cat, her family and the Resistance trying to salvage human personalities and knowledge; James Lukas Davenant-Strong, a top class AI joining the XOR cabal; a US President under pressure from the military to be prepared for an all-out war of annihilation in a Dr. Strangelove environment.
An intriguing counterpoint to the larger scale events is the decision by Cat's friend, Sarah, to live in a world of virtual reality (VR) presumably managed by computer programs. Various fantasies are enacted through the imagination of the participant with or without others - a Second Life on a bigger scale and with potentially more permanent results. Hertling seems to be warning about the preoccupation with video games and simulated environments as escapism from the immediate physical world.
Events move quickly with a sort of loose connection - similar to some of the contemporary futuristic television shows such as "Fringe" whose producers the author is evidently an admirer of - to the potential creation of a George Lucas type of Death Star and the escape of some of the Resistance. The epilogue leaves one with a sense of fear and sadness, not unlike the scene of Frankenstein and the little girl playing together for what may be a last time.
The title of the book is never openly mentioned throughout the story and may be something of a mystery. It refers to Alan Turing considered to be one of the key figures in modern computer science and most recently portrayed in the Oscar-winning file, "The Imitation Game."
Turing struggled with the question of whether the human mind was different from a programmable deterministic machine (Logical Computing Machine). If he felt that the uncertainty of particles at the sub-atomic level justified a "free will" exception for humans compared to machines, it remains unclear (see Walter Issacson’s 2014 book, “The Innovators,” for more details).
In his 1920 play, "RUR (Rossum's Universal Robots)", the Czech writer Karel Capek reaches a conclusion where robots have destroyed humanity but male and female robots with humanoid (or transhuman) qualities show signs of loving each other - hence, the potential salvation of the world.
On the other hand, Ray Bradbury in his 1950 short story, "There Will Come Soft Rains", also published in the "The Martian Chronicles," depicts a post-apocalyptic world where the machines continue to perform the tasks they are programmed to do even though there are no people there to appreciate what they do and they cannot prevent their own destruction by natural causes.
Must-reads for AI of the future…
The so-called "technological singularity" is said to offer both immeasurable promise and danger. In the previous novels we've already seen powerful examples of both. But "The Turing Exception" takes those to new extremes. The XOR group of AIs has an ominous presence here. Its dry, clinical assessment of whether to take action against humans seems almost innocuous at first, but keeps building slowly, frighteningly toward becoming a terrible threat. To me it has all the feel of the beating heart interludes of the TV series "24", just in case there wasn't already enough tension.
Add in some compelling characters, desperate situations, and lots of drama, and you have a fitting conclusion to the series. Ultimately, the singularity is shown to be the greatest or worst event in human history. A case can be made for either, and it's up to the reader to decide. Of course that just means you'll have to read the series and decide for yourself.
I read the other books in the series and enjoyed them. This one seemed rather rushed, and unlike the previous books the future technology was at times over the top or you wanted to scratch your head as it went so fast you had to stop and think about what the author was trying to convey. The ending or last 10% of the Kindle version seemed very rushed, and I wanted to call “bull” on the final scenes.
The Singularity series has been a good run, but if it continues with a Book Five I don’t believe I will be along for the ride.
Most recent customer reviews
Definitely a great way to end the series! The author really hit his stride in this book.Read more