Review: Extinction

Extinction by Mark Alpert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A really great Crichtonesque novel of AIs reaching Singularity in the not too distant future. Jim Pierce, an ex-military designer of robotic bio-enhanced prostheses for veterans, is estranged from his hacker daughter Layla, but a Chinese assassin shows up at his lab, looking for information on her, and Jim knows that she needs his help. Enlisting help along the way from various people from his past, and a new “partner,” Kirsten Chan, from the NSA, he goes looking for Layla. It turns out that the Chinese, working with others, have created an AI called “Supreme Harmony,” a self-aware, self replicating bio interface with swarm intelligence that plans to take the earth from man. Utilizing swarm technology, and drones the size of flies, as well as human/machine hybrids, Supreme Harmony plans to make it look like the US is behind some recent attacks on China, thus escalating a global war. Pierce, with his super enhanced bionic arm, is able to hunt down and find Layla, and work to dismantle the group. All in all, it’s fun, readable, and moves along swiftly. While I thought Suarez’s Daemon was better in terms of AI, that was in a different form, and this is pure bioengineering, the true Singularity. From the author’s website: “All the technologies described in Extinction are real. [The novel’s author is a contributing editor at Scientific American, which has reported on the recent advances in brain-machine interfaces.] In one form or another, our machines will eventually replace us. Extinction tells the story of how it could happen tomorrow.” Since first introduced in Crichton’s Nano, and later in his newer Micro (finished by Robert Preston), this one dovetailed neatly into that genre, and, with plenty of action, is worth a read.

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One response to “Review: Extinction

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