Aug 16, 2016

Thoughts on vN

I read vN this past weekend on the recommendation of Brad Feld. I was a bit disappointed when I first finished the book, rating it 3 stars on Goodreads. As I thought about it over the next 24 hours, I gradually came around to upgrading my rating to 4 stars.

The book takes place in a world in which humans coexist with humanoid robots: vN's. It covers all the themes you would expect it to: what it means to be human, how humanity treats sentient beings that aren't human, what happens when the "laws" governing robots' treatment of humans fails, etc. I was disappointed--first and foremost--because the examination of what "humanity" means fell short of my expectation. Most books like vN explore that theme through the question of what it is that separates AI from humans and why that means they should be treated differently. vN took away some of the power of that mirror by defining those differences somewhat more clearly than it really needed to. Still a strong reflection, but slightly more smudged than I was hoping.

Beyond that, the book was a fun read. I had no trouble powering through it in two plane rides over the course of the weekend. Bizarre at times and gave me a familiar sense of frustration with ambiguity (I'm looking at you Malazan), but all in all solid. 4 stars for making a good go at a subject that's near and dear to my heart.

By the way- apologies for all of the book takeaways recently. I was on a reading binge after my slog through Malazan. (not so) Regularly scheduled blog posts should return shortly.