Interflow of Things is a highly realistic vision of the future where an A.I. seeks to segregate people. What served as your inspiration while writing this fascinating novel?
Well I guess the inspiration for the segregation is the idea that through A.I. society will become simpler, and the crowd will accept this and embrace this as something good. Dividing society in leaders, hardworkers, creative and relatively useless people is of course rather coldhearted and narrow-minded, but let’s not forget that a lot of people use these kind of phrases already, it’s in fact quite human to do this unfortunately. I guess A.I. has the danger of strengthening prejudices as we see in several examples already used, like f.e. a law system implemented.
I think you did a fantastic job creating an A.I. in immersive detail. What kind of research did you do ensure you portrayed the traits of A.I. accurately?
The writing of the A.I. chapters was intuitive, but I did study From Bacteria to Bach and back from Daniel Dennett and used it her and there. Furthermore I have read passages of On intelligence from Jeff Hawkins, How to create a mind from Ray Kurzwell, Superintelligence from Nick Bolstrom, Homo Deus from Yuval Noah Harari, Cosa Nostra, A History Of The Sicilian Mafia from John Dickie and lately the book Life 3.0 from Max Tegmark. This last book, I plan to use a bit more in part three of the cyclus.
I felt that this book was an ominous allusion to the current “Internet of Things” we are experiencing now. What is one common misconception you find that many people have about A.I.?
I don’t really know, I guess people slowly will get used to more A.I. without thinking about it that much mainly, or even without realizing its implications. The idea that A.I. might become conscious is something that is quite hard to comprehend, personally I have to use my imagination and read books like Max Tegmark his Life 3.0 or Daniel Dennett and then see it might indeed be possible. In Life 3.0 a number of scenario’s have been stated of the possible future, that’s interesting to read and discuss.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
The Game Changer I consider as part zero of a series of novels with the name Amor Mundi. Part 1 is the novel Julia’s memories, I am translating this novel into English at this moment and I am planning to publish it in one piece with Interflow of things, since the two really follow each other like it’s one novel. My plan is to let a professional editor look at this part 1 and 2 novel called ‘Julia’s memories and the interflow of things’ thoroughly, that’s really needed, I know. For the interflow of things I didn’t have the energy to do a good job in translating yet, I am sorry for that. Furthermore, I am working on a third part using Life 3.0 of Max Tegmark as inspiration.
Julia’s memories info:
‘Julia’s memories’, announced as the 1st novel of the AM cycle, contains partly the same characters as the novel The Game Changer. Julia is the daughter of the protagonist: Henk VWS. Julia is also the one who will tilt society, also according to her father Henk, although his insight, his idea of how to achieve that, is not at all like hers. In addition, certain events are now not described by Henk VWS, but from her (2050) perspective.
Back cover text: June 2050. Julia, a celebrated artist, celebrates her 55th birthday. Encouraged by the mayor of Rotterdam she decides to write her memoirs. She wants to try to unravel her passionate past, to understand it better, and hopes that the youth will be able to learn something from this candid quest in her life. Meanwhile, however, during her writing, she receives fragments of another reality, fragments that increase in quantity and intensity, fragments from the here-and-now that distract and influence her memoirs more and more.
Fragment (first page of the book):
In recent weeks I have managed to read my memoirs. I have tried it before, but it was hurting too much, mental pain caused by the realization that you have recorded your memoirs in a dream world and after manipulation by an artificial enemy, since it are creatives among us who – as a sopmer, like a lollipop for a child – are inspired to this senseless activity, to this exercise in selfishness and self-pity, to this form of autobiographical pride, an activity which Jules might have rightly called a disguised form of prostitution. It helps to keep creatives in check, in line, and admittedly, I went along like no other, yes, I firmly believed in the healing power of my memoirs for the youth of Rotterdam (and for myself). Writing memoirs became my life purpose, encouraged by our mayor with the lovely name Peter Cantacuzino, a mayor of whom I now suspect that he has been manipulated by this all dominating forms of intelligence. It is true, moving from an externally imposed compulsion to self-compulsion has reached new dimensions under the A.I. ruler: I guess that with my memoirs our enemy gets gold in his artificial hands! To think that through my outpourings I am offering him new possibilities to optimize his manipulations! Information collection is like a spider web that tightens every movement, it is high time we unravel this tangle! To sketch a complete picture, before we start with the Unmasking, here are my memories as dictated to my PR robot, just before my Awakening (all published at the express request of the major of Rotterdam).
After Julia has awakened, she finds out how the real world is currently functioning. A hyperintelligent computer entity X.yy has duplicated itself and slowly increases its power. The masterplan designed by X.yy provides a coarse segregation of homo sapiens in leaders, hard workers, creatives and relatively useless. All individuals get information on a need-to-know basis via a coloured AI filter.
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The year is 2050 and the overreaching A.I. is about to achieve total domination of the planet. If it succeeds, the end of humanity is certain. No resistance is expected since the human race has been herded into obedience and a false sense of security using high tech illusions and complacency. But the resistance is brewing – the Free Hackers are moving in the shadows, avoiding the scanners, blending with the crowd. They will cross the world, from Rotterdam to Sicily and all the way to California, in hopes of stopping the inevitable.
Interflow of Things by David Droge is a highly realistic vision of the future brought about by the constant revolutions in computing we have been witnessing in the past few decades. His A.I. starts its journey in our time but quickly spreads to control the world from the shadows. Its insatiable hunger for processing power has it manipulating governments and even change entire stratas of society. It uses high tech gadgetry to mask its debilitating effect on the planet. I enjoyed the superbly technical implementation of the technology which was always believable, especially when we remember how human totalitarian regimes have been able to accomplish the same effect without it.
Human emotions are the bedrock of its power – living in the A.I. controlled reality is comfortable. So much so that unplugging from it requires drug treatments and therapy. Julia, the first character we meet, needed extensive therapy provided by the Free Hackers before she got her emotions and clarity of mind back. And she was one of the lucky ones. Augmented reality dream is a prison of your own mind and you carry it everywhere. Why wouldn’t you? It makes everything, vision, smell, feel and touch, more beautiful! Droge is able to touch and develop every detail of the story so that you are completely immersed by the time you are just a few chapters in.
But the human emotion is something the A.I. doesn’t understand. Throughout the book we get inklings into the operation of this vast mind. Millions of calculations are being done in hopes of understanding basic human concepts and abilities, all in vain.
These passages serve the purpose of giving us the idea of the incomprehensible A.I.’s motivations. They turn out to be one of the few passages of the book that make sense. Dave Droge has translated this novel into English and the results could have been better. A layered and interesting world of the future was hard for me to comprehend. His human characters are intriguing but their motivation was obscured by poor translation.
Interflow of Things – the name of the novel is an obvious, ominous allusion to the current “Internet of Things” trend in computing integrated with ordinary business of living. It shows the future that we might be heading in. Droge gives us a warning that we might become willing slaves of computer controlled social constructs that we don’t really understand or care to understand. If the object of our desires is a real person or an android, will we know? Will we even care at that point? This is a fantastic science fiction story that can only get better.
Pages: 196 | ASIN: B07BTT6KRK
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Project Bodi focuses on Google Health and the impact that artificial intelligence has on the future of work. What was your inspiration for this book and why was it important for you to write it?
One day I was driving to San Diego and I had an idea – what if mindfulness meditation can enhance creativity and innovation? Mindfulness is very popular right now with apps like Headspace, 10% Happier, etc. It occurred to me that mindfulness was a way to tap into the subconscious mind and solve the challenges in our lives. I decided to write this book on that drive to San Diego, and I used the same techniques for harnessing innovation to write the book itself, which is why I wrote the book in only 8 weeks. Mindfulness really does enhance innovation, and I have this book to prove it.
Beth and Austin are interesting and well developed characters. What was your inspiration for their relationship?
It’s based on my own experiences in the corporate world. In many companies, the younger, entry-level employees are often ignored and they fall into a void of obsolescence. But in fact companies do best when engage their young employees and set high expectations for them. So the relationship between Beth and Austin is something quite common in the work force in my opinion.
This book has some scary parallels with our current world? Is there anything that worries you about our current level of AI or do you have a positive outlook?
A.I. has the potential to be a bright, powerful force for humanity that can enhance our lives, but there’s no denying the dark potential as well. It will depend on the motivations of our leaders, as described at the end of the book.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
It will happen when the idea comes to me. You can’t force innovation; just like Austin learned, you should let your subconscious mind bring the brilliant ideas to you. Just be patient and it will arrive on its own.
In 2029, Google is the most dominant company in the world. Dr. Bethany Andrews heads the company’s Artificial Intelligence Department and leads Project Bodi, the world’s most advanced Augmented Reality smartglasses that will one day revolutionize the tech space. Her lead programmer is Austin Sanders, a 26-year-old psychonaut who loves Burning Man and electronic dance music. Together they embark on a life-changing journey to design the product of the decade, and along the way they discover the mind’s inner source of insight and innovation.
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Project Bodi: Awaken the Power of Insight by Hosein Kouros-Mehr is a sci-fi fiction book that goes into an alternate world of Google and its reign in 2030 and beyond. Although it’s a fictitious book, there are so many parts of it that relate to the world that we currently live in so reading this book was like looking into the future. A scary and not so distant future. The book focuses on Google Health and the impact that artificial intelligence has on the future of work.
This book took a bit for me to get my head around, but once I did, I devoured it. I love reading about alternate worlds and dystopian futures and although this book was a somewhat dystopian future, the similarities between what’s happening in our world are obvious. Artificial Intelligence is scary because we don’t know much about it as a species and yet continue to use it with reckless abandon and for me, messing with things that we don’t fully understand can only lead to trouble.
How much of a role should artificial intelligence have within society? This book suggests that the way things are going, artificial intelligence should not only be expected but welcomed with open arms. However, as the story goes on, I felt more linked with Austin than I did with Beth. As much as I want to be hardworking and driven, my smartphone and social media is a constant and easy to access distraction from my work. Although I might have talent, it’s surely being squandered by my lack of dedication and focus to the task. It was refreshing to see this written in a non-condescending way as that is so often the case when people write about younger generations.
I found myself reading this book with ease. Although the book switches between three different characters, including the CEO of Google, the language is easy to understand and easy to follow. As we are dealing with some interesting concepts throughout this book, it’s a huge bonus that the perspectives that are shown in the book are easy to understand and easy to read and are delivered with relaxed and concise language.
I really liked the different perspectives that were shown throughout the book. It varies from the younger guy whose distracted yet shows promise, the senior worker whose given a mountain of a task with little room to fail and the CEO of the company that’s taking over the world. Despite these differences, the perspectives between them all show that there’s similarities there as well. The pressure to stay on top of your game in a world of never ending challenges and pressures. I liked the passages about subconscious. We often forget that our strongest tool is our mind and once we sharpen it, we can be unstoppable.
I really enjoyed this book. It was an easy and eye opening read that showed me what the future will possibly look like.
Pages: 219 | ASIN: B072QX9YZX
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Adam’s Stepsons by M. Thomas Apple is an interesting science fiction piece. We follow Dr. Heimann who designs the perfect super soldiers for the United America’s in their war against the Martian colonies. Heimann quickly discovers that he did not anticipate the brutal efficiency of the military, nor the attachment that arises from his creations. These clones are not only the peak of what the human form can do, they actually transcend humanity through intelligence and strength. They are the weapon that the United Americas will use to crush the rebellion on Mars. Dr. Heimann is shocked when one clone, Six, begins to call him “Father” and then the can of worms truly opens.
Apple’s novel is almost painfully short, only because I wanted to have more to read and dive into. He anticipates the future of inter-solar system colonization and the struggles that can arise, such as this between the United Americas and the Martian colonies. He does not neglect the complicated matter here or the scope considering the Terran governing force is losing the war and needs these clones to pan out.
The struggle between scientist and soldier is an old one, but one that takes on a new twist with the rise of cloned super soldiers. Apple goes along the lines of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, but does not seek to critique war itself. Instead, the author goes further and asks whether these soldiers are “truly” human or are they just “equipment” as the military officer Marquez calls them.
The conflict deepens even further when “Seth”, clone number six, as Dr. Heimann calls him when no one else is around, begins to call him “father”. The book bounces between the POV’s of the scientist and Six, which is interesting because as the book goes on Heimann becomes more and more unstable and uncertain of his mission of designing soldiers, who resemble the people that their genetic material comes from. Six, or rather, “Seth” becomes increasingly more confident in his abilities and his intelligence. All of this leads to a climax that may polarize readers, but one that will still make the reader ponder on far after they have finished the novel.
Overall, I enjoyed Apple’s prose. It reads crisp like that of Asimov or Heinlein, but I am still unsure if the short length of the work was appropriate. There is a lot of dialogue and not enough actual “action” going on throughout, so I was expecting more digging into the rich themes of personhood and philosophy of the soul. I realize that may be asking too much.
Adam’s Stepsons is a fun addition to the long canon of science fiction that dares to ask the “what if” of the future. It also seeks to ask the “should we, if we can” question that not enough science fiction is retrospective enough to ask. A good read for any science fiction lover, especially of the Heinlein or Asimov variety.
Pages: 92 | ASIN: B06XJRT8CS
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