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review 2018-11-17 14:21
A cautionary tale, with plenty of action and philosophical touches thrown in.
Killing Adam - Earik Beann

I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here), and I thank her and the publisher for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This is a very interesting book, and I doubt anybody reading it will fail to put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist. The concept is easy to grasp. Accidentally, (there was an experiment linking several people’s brains) an artificial intelligence (who later describes itself as a “singularity”) called Adam is born. Adam quickly takes control of the whole world, creating ARCs (altered reality chips), which are inserted into everybody’s brains, and allow people to control everything around them and to live get interconnected and live in an altered (virtual) reality world. Of course, the intelligence behind the inventions (and there is a company behind it too, BioCal) gets to control the brains of the people involved, in turn. You can imagine Terminator with AIs instead of physical robots, or Matrix, although in this case people are not physically hooked onto a computer, but hooked they are, nonetheless. Adam is extraordinary, but a megalomaniac and cannot stand the thought of coexisting with other singularities who might take a different view of matters. He will not stop at anything to achieve his ubercontrol and will use (and has used) any means necessary.

The story, told in the third-person by an omniscient narrator, is plot-driven. Each chapter is told from a character’s point of view (so there is no confusion as to whose point of view we’re following), mostly the main characters: Jimmy (a man who cannot be fitted with an ARC due to a brain injury suffered while he was playing American football), Adam, Trixie (another singularity, and one who sees things very differently to Adam), Jenna (one of the people —or “nodes”— hosting Trixie), and other secondary characters who play their part in the action but whom we don’t learn much about. Jimmy is the character we get to know better, but due to his personal circumstances, his life has become so limited that there is little information we gather in the time we spend with him. He is married and loves his wife, but as she’s mostly hooked onto the altered reality (23 hours a day), he can hardly spend any time with her. He attends “Implants Disability Anonymous”, an association for those who have difficulty adapting to life because they do not have an implant (and it is extremely complicated to live in a world centred on an alternate reality if you are an outsider), and has a friend, Cecil, whose life circumstances are very similar. He becomes a reluctant hero, and, perhaps preciesly because we do not know that much about him, it is easy to imagine ourselves in his place.

There are other characters with plenty of potential, especially Crazy Beard, an amateur philosopher who feels at home anywhere, and whose pearls of wisdom are eminently quotable. The language is not overly technical or complex and although there are some descriptions, these are not very detailed or lengthy. In a way, the experience of reading this book is similar to what life must be like for the characters of the novel hooked onto the alternate reality. You become so immersed in the story and focused on the content that you don’t see or notice what is around you, including the details about what surrounds you. The scenes and the actions succeed each other at a fast pace and, every-so-often you are thrown out of that reality by a detailed mention of a location or of an in-depth description of a character’s thoughts or feelings. And then, back you go, into the story.

The novel can be read as an allegory for our modern lives, increasingly taken over by social media and online content (yes, it is not a big stretch to imagine that you could walk along a crowded street and be virtually invisible because all people you come across are focused on their devices), a cautionary tale. Indeed, some of the technology, like the connected fridges and the self-driven cars are already here. It can also be read as a straightforward science-fiction/dystopian novel, with touches of humour, philosophical thoughts, and an inspiring and positive ending (and no, I won’t tell you what it is). Hard science-fiction fans might take issue with some of the novel’s premises (I missed getting a sense of how this alternate reality was, as we mostly see the effects of it but not the actual content), and a fair deal of suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy the novel if you are looking for a realistic story, but if you enjoy speculative fiction, plenty of action, and are open to a story that will make you look around and think, you’ll love this novel. I look forward to the author’s future works.

 

 

 

 

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text 2018-06-29 08:49
Global AI in Healthcare Market to register 39% Growth in 2018

The Global AI in Healthcare Market Size is expected to surpass USD 750 Million by 2018. The industry is expected to cross over US$ 10 Billion by 2025 end.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is largely seen as fourth industrial revolution. Healthcare is one such sector where AI is gaining higher traction. The industry has shifted from medical products based era to real-time outcome based care and now to predictive and preventative care modellings (AI, Augmented reality and Robotics). Intelligent solutions will be the backbone of the future healthcare industry. Early entrants will be able to maximize their business reach and create a brand recognition in the sector. It is due to this that many AI based startups has emerged in last few years. Over 250 companies emerged in Healthcare AI market post 2015. The numbers are expected to further increase with technological advancement and overall profitability margins from the sector.

There are thousands of data across various healthcare field that are unstructured. Successful structuring of data could not only save time but also maximize the operational output. Much of the demand for AI is expected to be seen in drug discovery programs.

Bekryl’s market research report, Global Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare Market Size Analysis and Industry Opportunity, finds North America to account for 58% of global sales in 2018. North America is pioneer in AI with most of the engaged companies are headquartered in the region. Furthermore, U.S. national healthcare expenditure is expected to increase from 17.9% in 2017 to 19.9% of total GDP by 2025. AI in healthcare will reach over US$ 5.5 billion by 2025 in U.S. This could potentially save over US$ 120 billion to US healthcare economy. Percent penetration will rise not only among medical devices and biotech companies but also hospitals, payers and insurance companies.

Some key trends from the global Healthcare AI market:

Trend#1: Artificial Intelligence companies are focusing on partnership/acquisition to strengthen their business presence and product portfolio

In the last few years, the competition has heighted in the Healthcare AI market with emergence of many new entrants. Leading companies are either going for mergers & acquisitions or partnership with small and midsize companies so as to ensure long term sustainability. For instance, in June 2018, EarlySense acquired cardiac predictive analytics (eCART) developed by Dana Edelson. Another company – Athenahealth – partnered with NoteSwift to offer AI powered HER (electronic health record) documentation. In the same year, 3M entered in partnership with C3 IoT to offer artificial intelligence based solutions for healthcare sector.

Trend#2: Innovative Product Development

Product development has been at the core of the strategy for most companies. Product and service offering differentiation could help company to expand its business presence organically. Various companies are coming with innovative product offerings so as to create their own niche in the segment. For instance, in January 2018, CLEW Medical developed healthcare predictive analytics software to analyze critical health situation. Another company – Beyond Verbal – developed emotions based analytical tool. The company is working on product development that could predict illness through user’s voice modulation.

Some key Global Healthcare AI Market Players are General Vision, Inc., Icarbonx Co. Ltd., Intel Corporation, IBM Corporation, Next It Corp., Nvidia Corporation, Oncora Medical, Inc., Enlitic, Inc., Alphabet Inc., Atomwise, Inc., Cyrcadia Health, Inc., Lifegraph Ltd., Microsoft Corporation, Modernizing Medicine Inc., Welltok, Inc., and Zebra Medical Vision Ltd.

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review 2018-06-14 03:21
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (audiobook) by Dennis E. Taylor, narrated by Ray Porter
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) - Dennis E. Taylor

Bob just sold his successful tech company and is massively rich. One of the first things he does with his newfound wealth is sign up to have his head cryogenically frozen upon his death. Not long after that, he's killed in an accident...and wakes up more than 100 years later as an AI. He is now property, and he's been selected as one of four candidates for the job of exploring and colonizing space for FAITH, the government that owns him. It's a good thing that Bob views this as his dream job. First, however, he has to beat the other three candidates, keep from going crazy like so many other AIs in the past, and avoid being destroyed by one of the many groups that don't want this project to succeed. Although Bob does make it into space, it's a rockier beginning than he expects.

I can't remember if I bought this on sale or if I used an Audible credit, but, either way, it was a waste. I only managed to finish it in a reasonable amount of time because of Ray Porter's excellent narration. He made the lengthy technical explanations slightly more bearable. His range of female voices seems to be pretty limited (I think this is the third audiobook he's narrated that I've listened to), but since none of the prominent characters were female and there were maybe only three female characters with speaking roles, that wasn't really an issue here.

I picked this up because I like books with prominent AI characters. Bob was technically an AI, even though he'd started off as a human. For me, the best part of the book was the period between when Bob woke up as an AI and when he was launched into space. I enjoyed reading about him adapting to his new life and skills, even as I rolled my eyes a bit at how easily everything came to him.

The first part of Bob's life in space, before he started replicating himself, was tolerable, but not great. I wasn't a fan of Bob's decision to build a VR environment for himself. Taylor's reasoning for it sounded okay (AI craziness is at least in part caused by sensory deprivation, because the human minds the AIs are built from expect sensory input they aren't getting), but I didn't want to read about some guy living in his magical environment that he could change at will. I vastly preferred it when Bob was housed in a very nonhuman body that was little more than a camera and some manipulators.

When Bob began populating his environment with animals, including a beloved cat from back when he'd still been human, I began to worry that he'd start recreating people he'd known and loved when he was alive. My biggest fear was that he'd recreate his ex-girlfriend. I was surprised and relieved that it never once crossed Bob's mind to do any of this.

After Bob found a stopping point and began replicating himself, the story branched a bit and should have become more interesting. Instead, it became more tedious and considerably less focused.

Each Bob renamed himself in an effort to make things less confusing, and the book followed multiple Bob POVs. I did my best to keep count, and by the end the total Bob count was 30 and the total number of Bobs who got to be POV characters was up to 9 or 10. This was one of the few aspects where I regretted the audiobook format a bit, since the different Bob POVs were briefly identified at the beginning of a section/chapter and were often difficult to tell apart if I missed hearing Porter say their names. Although each Bob viewed the other Bobs as having radically different personalities, the personality differences weren't as noticeable in the different POV sections.

One of the Bobs (Bill) opted to stay in one place and act as a Bob factory, tech researcher, and communication center. One set of Bobs headed back to Earth to see how things were going and whether there was even any point in looking for habitable planets anymore. Most of the other Bobs went in different directions and began exploring - some of what they found tied in with the storyline involving Earth, some of it led to action scenes involving an enemy AI, and some of it had nothing to do with anything as far as I could tell. Probably setup for the next book.

The discovery of the Deltans, intelligent but low-tech beings on one of the Bob-discovered planets, fit into the last category. Sadly, I found it to be more interesting than the primary storyline involving the fate of humanity, even as Bob's actions and plans made me more and more uncomfortable.

Bob (original Bob) discovered the Deltans and, at first, decided just to watch them. He gradually became more involved, to the point that he

considered culling one of the Deltans' natural enemies, the gorilloids, in order to make the Deltans' lives easier. Another Bob disapproved of this, although I got the impression that his disapproval was based more on his dislike of making the Deltans dependent on the Bobs and less on any qualms about genocide. Original Bob spent a lot of time studying the Deltans and almost no time studying the gorilloids. I wasn't as willing as he was to discount the possibility that the gorilloids were also sentient and sapient beings.

(spoiler show)


We Are Legion (We Are Bob)'s biggest problem was that it was boring. Taylor included a massive amount of technical detail, and I really just did not care. I say this as someone who largely enjoyed the scientific explanations and technical details in Andy Weir's The Martian.

It probably didn't help that I couldn't bring myself to care about the various Bobs and their storylines, either. The humans in Taylor's vision of the future were largely annoying and seemed determined to literally argue themselves to death. Rather than talk to each other, share knowledge and resources, and generally help each other out, they preferred to argue about who got to evacuate first and then refused to so much as share a planet. As for the Bobs, I never became very attached to any of them and

didn't even feel a twinge when any of them died. After all, the Bobs themselves barely mourned each other, and they could always just make new ones, even though the personalities wouldn't be the same.

(spoiler show)


Early on, Bob worried about losing his humanity and was reassured that he was still human when he regained his ability to grieve for the family members of his who'd long since died. Honestly, though, he should have continued to worry, because that moment of grief seemed to be his first and last deeply felt emotion in the entire book.

I don't currently plan on continuing this series. I'm not sure I could take another book filled with dozens of iterations of Bob, even with Ray Porter narrating it.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-05-31 23:05
The Renegade Star Series Book 4...
Renegade Lost - JN Chaney

I was going to summarize the plot myself but every sentence I came up with made the story sound cheesy and did it absolutely no justice so I'm going to post the blurb and leave it at that.  : ) 

 

A lost ship. An unknown civilization.

The Renegade Star is stranded, its engines totally shot, surrounded by the unknown. Floating in the dead of space, they receive a strange transmission from a nearby planet, warning them to stay away or face the consequences.

When the message mentions how this world belongs to Earth, the lost cradle of humanity, Captain Jace Hughes knows he has no choice but to investigate.

With an endless snowstorm, bloodthirsty animals around every corner, and no sign of any colonies or people, the mission won't be an easy one.

Good thing they sent in the Renegade.

Experience a sprawling galactic tale in this fourth entry to The Renegade Star series. If you're a fan of Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, or Leviathan Wakes, you'll love this epic, space opera thriller.
 

 

 

This is a great series you just want pure entertainment. It's lots of fun, tons of action and the characters, especially Jace and Siggy, the ships A.I. will make you laugh. 

 

*If you like audio books the narration is really good. Publisher's Pack #1 contains books 1 & 2 and Publisher's Pack #2 contains books 3 & 4.

 

 

 

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