{5/5} “It’s been seventy years that ai-builders have promised to surge beyond human ken. Their list of tricks keeps growing. Ai can sift and correlate across all of human knowledge, in seconds. Yet, each decade reveals more layers of unexpected subtlety, that lay hidden in our own packed neuron-clusters all along. Skills we simply took for granted.”

Existence by David Brin, released in 2012

A garbage collector on the space station discovers an object that seems to be extraterrestrial in origin — they’re bringing it down to Earth for study. A poor man in China finds an undisturbed old room underwater that contains a stone that’s similar to the alien object. A rich man riding a rocket into space finds that all of his machinery has failed and he plunges back to Earth — and in the middle of the ocean is rescued by a dolphin.

There are several storylines, but all are fascinating. It has the feel of a Kim Stanley Robinson novel.

It’s about first contact, smart mobs, AI, schemes of the ultra-wealthy, and ubiquity of cameras. It’s about humanity’s response to shocking information about civilizations in the universe.

One more quotation: “You may soon be typical.”

It’s a brilliant story, with commentary by Brin on all sorts of things.

I’ve read 11 novels by Brin — I previously reviewed Earth. I also regularly visit his blog.

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 19th, 2019 at 8:06 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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