Around half the scientists researching artificial intelligence (AI) think that a conscious machine with cognitive abilities 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 competence.
Pandora's Brain is a science thriller by best-selling writer Calum Chace. It uses the issues raised by the possible coming machine intelligence explosion as a platform for a fast-paced and thought-provoking adventure story.
The story is set in the very near future, and 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. At stake is his own life and those of his family and friends.
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 towards 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.
Selected reviews for Pandora's Brain:
“I love the concepts in this book!”
Peter James, author of the best-selling Roy Grace series
“Awesome! Count me as a fan.”
Brad Feld, co-founder of Techstars
“Pandora’s Brain is a captivating tale of developments in artificial intelligence that could, conceivably, be just around the corner. Mainly set in the present day, the plot unfolds in an environment that seems reassuringly familiar, but which is overshadowed by a combination of both menace and promise. Carefully crafted, and absorbing from its very start, the book held my rapt attention throughout a series of surprise twists, as various personalities react in different ways to a growing awareness of that menace and promise.”
David Wood, Chairman of London Futurists
“I was eagerly anticipating a fiction adventure book on precisely this topic! Very well done, Calum Chace. A timely, suspenseful, and balanced portrayal of AI and the most important decisions humanity will make in the near future.”
Hank Pellissier, producer of the Transhuman Visions conferences
“Pandora’s Brain is a tour de force that neatly explains the key concepts behind the likely future of artificial intelligence in the context of a thriller novel. Ambitious and well executed, it will appeal to a broad range of readers.
In the same way that Suarez’s Daemon and Naam’s Nexus leaped onto the scene, redefining what it meant to write about technology, Pandora’s Brain will do the same for artificial intelligence.
"Mind uploading? Check. Human equivalent AI? Check. Hard takeoff singularity? Check. Strap in, this is one heck of a ride.”
William Hertling, author of the “Singularity” series of novels
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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 [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]