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review 2018-02-01 00:04
Artificial Condition: Murderbot Diaries #2
Artificial Condition - Martha Wells

More Murderbot! If you enjoyed All Systems Red then you will enjoy this new installment in the continuing adventures of Murderbot. Using the same snarky and awkward voice we've come to love, the Murderbot gets a little more information on its history and meets some new characters along the way. I particularly enjoyed ART and their interactions. I was worried the sequel might not be able to recapture the unique feel established in the first novella, but this did not disappoint. Intriguing, insightful, and funny, these stories are now officially among my favorites. I look forward to joining Murderbot on many new adventures in the future!

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review 2018-01-02 19:55
Loved it!
Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diar... Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries - Martha Wells

I borrowed a kind friend's ARC, so no spoilers here, but I loved it!  All the charm of the first Murderbot book, with some new revelations and plenty more details about the world.  I loved it just as much as the first.  Definitely pick this series up if you're interested in grumpy AIs who really want to just be left alone to marathon tv (and definitely never ever want to talk about feelings) but maybe kind of secretly like some humans a little anyway.

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review 2017-11-03 16:58
Deep Learning Architectures: “Life 3.0 - Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Max Tegmark
Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence - Max Tegmark

“Life 3.0, which can design not only its software but also its hardware. In other words, Life 3.0 is the master of its own destiny, finally fully free from its evolutionary shackles.”


In “Life 3.0 - Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Max Tegmark


See how good your PC is as it ages or you want to install a better graphics card, does the driver play nice with everything? Are you competent enough to sort it out or are you the sort of person who offloads that to IT? The guys in IT are like ducks or swans, all seems serene on the surface but underneath they are paddling hard to stay afloat. They are one badly written security update away from disaster. Do they install the latest security patch or wait for others to see what happens? Also, the more complex a system becomes the more subject it is to critical failures from minor changes, the more they become like having 100 spinning plates on the go at once. If your bank's computer goes belly up just as the proceeds from your house sale are sailing through the system from one solicitor to another is there enough of a data trail to prove it existed? Do you feel lucky? In this day and age, when the state-of-affairs is like the one I’m describing above, can we still talk about AI?




If you're into Computer Science, read on.

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review 2017-10-21 22:41
Game/Interactive story review: Tacoma


I suppose you could call Tacoma an adventure game, although it more of an interactive story than a game. There are a few instances where you need to figure out people’s passcodes, but they’re so easy to figure out that they don’t really count as puzzles.

You play as Amy Ferrier, a contractor sent to Tacoma station by Venturis, the company that owns Tacoma. A short while ago an accident happened and the station, which had housed six human employees, one AI named ODIN, and a cat, is now abandoned. Your job is to explore the station and retrieve AI-recorded data and ODIN’s wetware.

The AI-recorded data takes the form of recordings that your augmented reality device allows you to see as though you’re glimpsing into the station’s past. All the characters are represented by colored silhouettes of themselves. You can rewind and fastforward in order to follow different people and occasionally access their emails and other files.

I can’t say too much about the story because it’s fairly simple and it’d be too easy to give everything away. The big question, as you’re playing, is what happened and whether anyone survived. Although you play as Amy, you aren’t privy to her thoughts. She knows more about the situation and what’s going on than you do, but it’s okay, because nothing in the game prevents you from taking as much time as you’d like in each area of the station. Just make sure you don’t leave a particular part of the station until you’ve done everything you want to do - I’m fairly certain you can’t go back or, if you can, AR data will no longer be accessible in that area.

As you travel through the station, you learn more about each of the characters: E.V., the station administrator; Clive, the operations specialist; Natali, the network specialist; Roberta (Bert), the mechanical engineer; Andrew, the botanist; and Sareh, the medic. You also get to see them interact with ODIN and, if you purchased the game through Steam, you can try to find the station cat in order to get one of the Steam achievements. I had fun trying to think of where the cat might decide to nap in each area, although I did worry that I'd end up witnessing its death. (Spoiler:

the cat makes it through just fine.)

(spoiler show)

The cast is diverse, both in terms of race and sexual orientation. As you look through their belongings (to whatever degree you’d like - I was curious and it didn’t feel too creepy, so I looked through every drawer and locker I could), you find out more about how they all got along and what their problems and issues were. My favorite character out of the bunch was probably Sareh, who had anxiety and panic attacks due to an event in her past, but who was still competent and professional despite that. I really liked her and ODIN’s interactions, even as I worried about ODIN being the only one she could confide in.

As someone who loves AI characters, I enjoyed ODIN and I loved the role he played in the story. I did find myself wishing for a bit more from him - players don’t get much of his perspective until the very end of the game.

Tacoma is very short. Even though I spent quite a bit of time exploring and looking at unimportant things like random packages, wrappers, and coffee mugs, I finished the whole thing (minus a few Steam achievements) in about four hours. That said, my biggest complaint about the game wasn’t the length, but rather how playing the game affected me physically.

When I first started, I couldn’t play for more than 20 minutes or so before developing headaches and nausea. I tried messing with the Gameplay and Graphics settings, turning off “head bob” and trying out different FOV settings, but it only seemed to help a little. The best solution I found was actually remembering to wear my glasses while playing. I don’t usually wear them at home and rarely wear them while watching TV or playing games, and it almost never causes a problem. In this case, though, it turns out they were vital. They never completely got rid of my headache and nausea problem, but without them I’d probably still be creeping my way through the game in 20-minute increments.

All in all, this was a simple and fairly short story told in a fascinating way. I loved getting to find out what happened in bits and pieces via AR data, files, notes, ads, and emails. Although I found myself wishing that the story had been a little bit more flexible and allowed for other endings, I was happy with the one ending players were given.


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


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