About half the scientists researching artificial intelligence (AI) think that a conscious AI at or beyond human level will be created by 2050. If they are right, the consequence could be an intelligence explosion, in which the AI rapidly and enormously exceeds human cognitive ability.
Pandora's Brain is a science and philosophy thriller by best-selling writer Calum Chace. It uses the issues raised by the coming machine intelligence explosion as a platform for a fast-paced and thought-provoking adventure story.
Set in the very near future, it features Matt, a shy but engaging and resourceful student who discovers that his recently deceased father was involved in research that could enable the construction of the world's first conscious machine.
Matt's enquiries lead to him being kidnapped, as he is caught in the crossfire between two groups pursuing that goal - one led by a Russian billionaire and another backed by the US military. Matt has to do more than simply survive. He has to harness these powerful forces to his own ends, and his life as well as his family's is at stake.
A dramatic seaborne rescue operation, a series of brutal murders and other filmic action scenes follow. In the course of his adventures, Matt discovers that the potential upside of creating machine intelligence includes immortality and godlike powers of understanding and being - but the potential downside is immediate extinction, or worse. As he is drawn deeper into his adventure, he becomes both the symbol and the victim of a global struggle over the approach to be taken toward this powerful new technology. A landmark decision at a meeting of the UN General Assembly forces Matt to make a fateful decision, which sparks the story's final twist.
©2015 Calum Chace (P)2015 Calum Chace
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"Is this where A.I. is heading?"
The story in this book grabbed my attention from the beginning. I received this book at no cost from the narrator through Goodreads for my honest review, and I am glad to have listened to it. The pacing moved at a decent speed and presented quite a bit of information in digestible packets. Overall, you’ll get some fast paced action, nice descriptions, and an appreciable amount of wittiness thrown in. The narrator gets the tone of the characters across well, making for an enjoyable listening experience.
The scientific information presented didn’t feel like a barrage of theories and concepts that would get in the way of the story. I knew a good amount of the scientific and technological information presented in this book, but there was also a significant amount of information that was new to me, such that I paused the book to note something I wanted to research more. A book that makes a reader actively want to look-up more information always gets kudo’s from me. There were some nice analogies inside this book to drive home the fear that may come about if (when?) an AI becomes reality.
There is a fair bit of both narration and dialog written in the book. Joe Rempel had both distinct character voices which made the dialogue easy to follow, and a narration voice that was easy to listen to without getting in the way of the story. I got the sense Mr. Rempel enjoyed the story he was reading so he really got into the story (making it better for the listener) and had a good sense of what tone and emotion to put in the voices of the characters.
This is an enjoyable story that should appeal to anyone who has an interest in sci-fi, specifically in the realm of realistic / futuristic sci-fi.
"A thrilling tale of the near-future, AI’s and all."
This book follows Matt, a brilliant and incredibly likable student near London who has just found out that his father was killed in a car accident. He has also found out that his father was involved in some incredible steps towards making Artificial Intelligence a reality through his work in neuro-biology and brain scanning. Upon finding this out, Matt decides to study the same things. Little does he know just what is waiting for him once he begins this journey. Follow Matt and his friends and family on a ride that you won’t believe is unfolding in front of you.
I listened to this on audiobook, which was given to me by the narrator in exchange for an honest. The narration was solid, and enjoyable. Even through some of the hard science, his narration was easy to follow. He did what I would call a combination of narration and dramatization. There were parts where a dramatization were used (different voices) but it wasn’t done for each new character that was included. There is nothing wrong with this, just needed to point it out. The audio quality was great and I had no issues with studio noise or anything of the sorts.
I’ve been reading a lot of AI fiction lately, and it is fascination (see my reviews for numerous Nick Thacker including “I, Sargeant” and “The Gray Picture of Dorian”. Or my review of “Networked” and her novella “Too Good For This World” by LK Chapman.
This genre is one that I will quickly be adding to my “must read” genres because I’m always sucked in and spit out by the authors wanting more and more. This book was no different Calum Chace brilliantly explained a lot of the science behind the AI within his novel and it is incredibly believable (even if the science is impossible at this point). Chace and the narration by Joe Hempel had me on the edge of my seat and staying up WAY too late to find out what was going to become of Matt.
If you are a fan of Science Fiction, AI, or just a gripping Technothriller – this book is for you. And do yourself (and your eyes) a favor and grab the audiobook, you won’t be disappointed.
Pandora's Brain is one of those original books which is at the forefront of a new genre. Calum Chace has successfully managed to combine an intense literary style with a deep understanding of his subject. Very unique story.
This audiobook was provided by the narrator at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlastcom
Great story and narration. There was an editing error in chapter 24 and Ivan's accent was a little off, but those complaints are insignificant. This was truly an awesome story. I'd love to see this author/narrator combo do more on A.I.
"Interesting and thoughtful story"
As a huge science fiction fan, I was curious as to how this topic - AI, and the possible dangers of consciousness of artificial intelligence - could be done in a new way- since it is a topic that has featured in many science fiction stories. I was pleasantly surprised. This is an extremely thoughtful book - with an interesting blend of philosophy and science, and it made me think, wonder, worry. It seemed well balanced between scientific explanation and plot, and never read like a text book. Though the science wasn't "watered down" or overly simplified, it was accessible to the lay reader - to the non-expert. It was also thoughtful in terms of questions like what is consciousness, what are we facing in our quest for artificial intelligence, why are we seeking it, who would be seeking it, what is our moral obligation, what are the real dangers given human nature, etc. And that kind of thoughtful exploration, to me, is what makes science fiction fun and interesting. I think particularly if this is a topic that is new to you, this will be a really informative and thoughtful book.
In addition to that, it is fairly well-written, in my opinion, and well-paced. The story and plot itself are strong, and I felt engaged by the characters and their dilemmas - in fact some of their plight was a little scary at times, and I felt involved in the goings on. For those who are not into philosophy or "hard" science fiction, this book is pretty strong in terms of plot as well - it is a bit of a thriller, with villains and good guys, and plenty of action, etc.
But I do have a few small criticisms. It is, at times, I think, perhaps a bit more descriptive than it needed to be, but not so much that it ruined the overall experience. Also, I think I would have liked it had the main hero been a little less perfect from the outset - had a bit more of a complex or flawed character, to make him a bit more accessible and relatable. But still, he does work as the hero, so it's not a major problem. The ending was a little open - as though a sequel is not out of the question. Personally, I am not a big fan of that - but it is so common these days, I can't really single this out, and to be fair, I would probably be interested in a follow up story.
The narrator does a good job too and it felt performed and audibly engaging, not simply read - in fact, the narrator gave me the book for my unbiased review and assessment through audiobookblastdotcom, and I am glad he did - I really did enjoy it. Overall, it's a pretty engaging and thoughtful book, and kept me entertained, and had some interesting insight as well from a scientific and philosophical point of view.
"Interesting concept hampered by many issues."
Professional production of the narration.
The story has, at it's root, an interesting concept. However, it is ruined by a very poor narration, and even poorer, or non existent, narration and editing. This story spun from one error to another, with accents and characters that devolved into annoying.
Almost unlistenable to my ear.
Anyone. Ray Porter is always a good choice.
Don't get me started.
I received this audiobook from audioblast in exchange for a fair and honest review. Unfortunately this book has the potential to be a much more interesting offer, but is hampered by a poorly produced narration. I can't recommend this as a result.
"THIS WAS JUST OK FOR ME...GOOD NARRATION!"
Not very high to be honest....but the narration was really good!
I have...I love Joe's work..even if there was some editing mistakes in the beginning in this book....which is unusual in Joe's work...
**I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **
This is a decent story, and it could have been really fantastic...but it has a lot of irrelevant parts, and long drawn out unnecessary explanations of things that were frivolous to this story...AI is a thing to expect in the near future and Matt and his father are working on it...there is a race to complete the first viable AI, and many questions as to the safety of this for the world....ultimately this does not end up well for anyone...and there is a little twist to this story...if you have a severely technical mind..you might really like this...I have only a semi technical mind and it was just ok for me...the last few hours were pretty good..and the narration was really good!
"This book really spoke to me"
Matt Metcalf is smart, maybe too smart. His father has recently died when he decides to follow in his footsteps and go to university to study neuro-biology (like his father). Little does he know, this begins steps towards and incredible “journey” that Matt and his friends and family will take on into the world of Artificial Intelligence, compassion and what it truly means to be “alive.”
The audio production on this was really well done – definitely done in a studio (or a well done home studio). The narrator, Joe Hempel, has a great voice and I found him to be very easy to follow. I never once felt like he was boring or difficult to understand. So much to the point that the voice of Matt if I were to read this (instead of listening) would be in Joe Hempel’s voice. Hempel does a great job with the drama of the whole thing, but I would call his narration a combination of a straight narration and a dramatization. While he changed his voice and how he spoke for some characters, he did not do accents or seem to dramatically change it for each character within the book.
This book really spoke to me. I’ve been reading other science fiction about AI recently and really been diving deeper into it. This is an incredibly well written story. While I have no idea if the science held within the pages is accurate or even possible, Calum Chace has done a wonderful job explaining it in a way that makes it feel totally believable and plausible. Matt, the main character is incredibly easy to fall for. He is a great “kid” who is easy to root for. Chace does a great job at developing him this way and I believe it was done for a reason. I wasn’t sure how long this was going to take to finish, but I ended up breezing through it because I HAD to know the ending.
This is a great read if you are at all interested (or scared) of AI. I do warn you, this will scare you and may even make you think differently about AI and what it means to be alive/have a soul.
Audiobook provided for review by the narrator.
Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog
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"I want more!"
Review: The good
First off, i would just like to say that i really enjoyed Pandora's brain. I didn't read any reviews, and took no preconceptions in before listening, as Joe asked for an honest review.
The story line was fantastic, and a true mind wrench. Every time i thought it was pacifying, we were thrown a new curve ball which had me wanting more - i remember the first night listening, my partner got angry as it was about 2 am on a work night when i reluctantly pushed pause. The story explores very contemporary ideas within a fictional setting which are truly interesting. The ideas of artificial intelligence, consciousness (which of late has had quite a lot of attention in the scientific world) and simulation theory (which is both scary and curiously exciting) are wrapped up in a young mans adventure including with black ops and mayans, i won't elaborate too much on this to save spoilers.
This may be a small point, but i really struggled with one of the characters accent, which i believe sounded like a mix of Russian and Australian, i may have missed something here, but it felt very confused. However as noted, Joe definitely skilled, and this is a small point.
My only other criticism is that the book was too short. I am an epic fantasy man at heart, and i was definitely left wanting more. If we haven't listened to anything in the genre, this is definitely a great start. The full review is at bestfantasyaudiodotcom.
"Prepare to do some thinking!"
I received a free audible edition of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What would happen if Artificial Intelligence became sentient and self aware?
What would its motivations be? Would it crush us under its digital shoe?
What if it were A LOT closer to becoming a reality than we think it is?
These are the questions author Calum Chance asks in the book Pandora's Brain.
It's a story about a man named Matt who gets sucked into a conspiracy that is way over his head, a race to make sentient A.I.
Even those in the know who fear its approach are resigned to running a race against time because they know that its only a matter of time and if they don't do it , giving it their own safeguards to protect humanity, someone else will and they might not think of the consequences.
The information in this book and the philosophical questions it asks are very interesting.
If you like to think about the what ifs , the bigger picture, where technology is going, this book is for you.
As far as plot goes though, it felt more like plot was kind of an afterthought, wrapped around what the author really wanted to get to- the part where he makes you think about the what if's and the what now's
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