Author: Douglas E. Richards
Published by: Paragon Press (douglaserichards.com)
Reviewd by: Lynard Barnes, 19 November 2017 (AMAZON Book Review)
Summary: Worth reading for the stimulation speculation.
The hot topic of the moment is artificial intelligence. The topic is hot because cognitive science has arrived at a crossroads of sorts. There are those experts who draw a distinction between artificial intelligence (or AI) and artificial general intelligence (AGI or ASI–where the “s” stands for sentient). It has taken cognitive science roughly twenty years to get here and it may take another twenty years before they refine the distinction even farther between passive intelligence–fact and figures, reduction and synthesis–and active intelligence, the latter being simply emotions acting upon passive intelligence.
In INFINITTY BORN, Douglas Richards constructs a near future world in which one brilliant scientist speeds through the cross road and arrives at real ASI. The consequences are disastrous and we spend the remainder of the book learning how he makes amends.
The entire premise of the book is thoroughly engaging and informative. In the aptly named “Author Notes & Bonus Content”, Richards discusses the research, providing sources, he did in putting the story together. It is the putting-together of the story that I ran into a problem.
In a later chapter in the book, after devoting three immediately preceding paragraphs describing how one of the main characters is attempting to sneak past a group of bad guys, we encounter the sentence: “He spotted the three Russians nearing the house, but he made sure to stay out of sight”. I highlight this sentence because it exemplifies a pattern of wordy redundancy which I find very annoying. The scene has already been perfectly set by the preceding three paragraphs. This excessive wordiness occurs throughout the book.
Another annoyance I have with the novel, not as serious believe-it-or-not, is that there are some events which are just plainly discordant with the flow of the story. Depending on the ability to suspend belief, inconceivable events like a seasoned federal agent being overpowered by a twenty-something year old untrained woman is passable as fiction.
Despite the annoyances with the story, overall it is well worth the time to read and intellectually digest. Just the research and issues raised makes INFINITY BORN a valuable contribution to any discussion of intelligence and human consciousness.