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Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic…

Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution (utgåvan 2020)

av P. W. Singer (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
503396,044 (4.1)1
Titel:Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution
Författare:P. W. Singer (Författare)
Info:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2020), 432 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution av P. W. Singer



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Singer, P. W., and August Cole. Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020.
A near-future tech thriller always requires finding a balance between action and exposition. You can imagine a scale with Tom Clancy on the action end and Kim Stanley Robinson on the exposition end. Burn-In, as you might guess from its subtitle and long list of references, leans more toward Robinson than Clancy. One snarky review on Goodreads said that if you like slow thrillers, this the book for you. The complaint is valid if a bit harsh. Singer and Cole do create quite a few riveting action scenes, but you can tell they are more interested in speculating about near-future advances in AI, robotics, and human-machine interactions. Their heroine, an FBI agent assigned to field-test an advanced police robot, struggles to remember not to anthropomorphize the machine. She refuses to give it a name, and frequently reminds herself never to test a machine you can’t disable in the crunch. For the most part, Singer and Cole succeed in not turning their robot into Johnny-Five or K-9. Four stars. ( )
  Tom-e | Dec 25, 2020 |
In the novel BURN-IN, by P.W. Singer and August Cole, FBI Agent Lara Keegan has been paired with the first advanced police robot in this near future thriller. As Keegan works with and trains her robot partner, called TAMS, the world around Keegan, both at home and at work, is constantly judging every success and setback in the evolution of this one-of-a-kind partnership. As the old world thinking and new world automation collide, Keegan and TAMS have to wade through the attention they draw and solve a series of terrorist style-attacks before its too late.
The amount of research and care that Singer and Cole have done to present a reasonable and believable future, full of technology, is admirable to say the least. I am a fan of the techno-thriller and this is the first novel in the genre that I have read where I haven't questioned anything about the future that is posited. Singer and Cole also give the book some heart, delving into Keegan's home life and how parents deal with a technological world that they are in disagreement over whether its good or bad, and yet have to work hard at a middle ground for their family. The plot unfolds nicely in the beginning, slows down a little in the middle, but has an exciting, nail-biting finish that can't help but leave a smile on the reader's face.
A thought provoking story about what technology could mean in our future, BURN-IN is a fun read that leaves the reader thinking long after they finished the book.
Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, P.W. Singer and August Cole, and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! ( )
  EHoward29 | Jun 22, 2020 |
In the America of ten or twenty years in the future, a large portion of the populace is under or unemployed due to increased automation.

The country still has a terrorist problem and not just with the Sons of Aleppo but with another movement that is determined to throw sand into the workings of society. They resent the automation software and hardware that society has become dependent on.

Special Agent Keegan of the FBI arrests a member of that plot and, in the interrogation, TAMS is introduced. It’s a Tactical Autonomous Mobility System robot. Its humanoid frame has impressive physical abilities, but its real benefit is its ability to access and correlate a lot of disparate information.

Political pressure has been brought to bear to test TAMS robots out for law enforcement, and Keegan gets ambiguous instructions from the FBI’s Deputy Director to do the right thing by the Bureau. Is that to ok the program or kill it with a bad report? There’s also a creepy tech billionaire, Shaw, who takes an interest in the project and who is very connected to the White House.

The first half of the novel is largely Keegan putting TAMs through its paces to see if it can be a real partner in investigations. The second half is the investigation and pursuit of a wide-ranging terrorist plot to discredit automation through various ingenious and lethal events. One plot twist was entirely predictable, but the authors pulled out a genuine surprise towards the end.

The leader of the terrorist plot is an interesting character whose actions can’t automatically be morally dismissed. A personal tragedy has turned him into being a bitter enemy of the technology he used to promote. However, his target selection has a cliched serial-killer element about it.

The authors describe their book as “useful fiction” rather than science fiction. A lot of the hardware and software describe in this book already exists or is in prototype. The rest is plausible. The authors document everything with footnotes in ghostly type so as not to distract the reader. I knew the book had footnotes but didn’t notice them until number five. Sometimes they are overkill like footnoting Disney song lyrics.

The details of the world already here or aborning are the book’s best part. Among other things, we see all the many counter-surveillance options citizens in this world employ, a robot sex club where the destruction of robots is a fetish, and how wealthy neighborhoods keep automated traffic control systems from funneling cars through their neighborhood. Keegan’s husband is Yale lawyer whose job was rendered surplus to requirements, and he now picks up money checking up and chatting with, via remote virtual reality gear, wealthy clients in nursing homes.

The value of this book is not in the plot’s resolution or the political solution reached at the end. It’s in the questions asked.

And that solution is not convincing.

Interestingly, I couldn’t decide whether the authors were being deeply ironical in their depiction of the FBI and Shaw or exhibit the naivete of Washington DC insiders trapped in a cultural bubble and whom simply accept the cultural values of the elite. But, given the last page and a couple of incidental bones thrown to progressive causes in the book, I opted for the naivete. And that brought my rating down from four to three stars.

Still, it’s a quick read, genuinely suspenseful at the end, and gives one plenty to contemplate. ( )
1 rösta RandyStafford | May 5, 2020 |
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