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The Fear Index by Robert Harris
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The Fear Index (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Robert Harris

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7363212,684 (3.24)26
Member:alanteder
Title:The Fear Index
Authors:Robert Harris (Author)
Info:Arrow (2012), Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:In English language, fiction, novel, suspense fiction, thriller fiction, hedge fund fiction, stock market fiction, artificial intelligence fiction

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The Fear Index by Robert Harris (2011)

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English (31)  German (1)  All languages (32)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
I always liked Robert Harris works, but this one was somewhat of disappointment. It's basically another version of old 'AI going hostile' plot. It is framed in a new settings of a hedge fund and has a reference to the real events on financial markets (nice touch) - but overall you know what's going to happen almost from the beginning. ( )
  everfresh1 | Apr 4, 2016 |
This one goes back to the legend of the Golem and to Stapledon's Last & First Men: man builds intelligent Machine to do his bidding, Machine takes over. In this case it's an Aspergers tendency scientist who builds a machine to beat the markets. It duly does so, but things get out of hand so he tries to destroy it by the rather naive method of pouring petrol on it in its industrial warehouse site. It's already replicated itself elsewhere and blithely carries on. The silver lining in the cloud is that it is still making pots of money for him.
Couple of oddities: no IT architect worth his salt would build such a system without backup on several other sites so our hero's liberality with the petrol would be in vain and he'd know that. Secondly, when the big market crash comes it seems to be entirely driven by other algorithms, i.e. other machines, there appears to be no human intervention anywhere, whereas the point, as the title indicates, is to exploit human weakness: Fear!
The quotes from Darwin that head each chapter remind one what a deep thinker and fine stylist he was.

Well, it's just a fairy tale, told more succinctly in "Answer" by Fredric Brown, a classic SF story from the 50s:
They build super computers all over the galaxy, then join them up and put the first question:
"Is there a god?
After a bit of whirring and flashing (this was written in the 50s, remember)
"There is now!" ( )
  vguy | Mar 4, 2016 |
too predictable ( )
  jimifenway | Feb 2, 2016 |
Ahh.. the dangers of artificial intelligence again! But, honestly, though this might not be an original premise, Harris was able to capture my attention and keep it for the duration of the story! Actually, I was quite engrossed! It reminded me of the old movie "War Games", but with hedge funds, instead of global thermo nuclear war! Move over H.A.L. - VIXAL is here! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 23, 2016 |
A disappointing novel from Robert Harris, fairly inconsequential and suffers from the same problem that the Roman novels had in that there are no likeable characters.
( )
  Superenigmatix | Jan 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
Humans have emerged as the top predators of the biosphere, but Harris warns that a new life form, brilliant and brutal, could be emerging from our algorithms, silicon chips and fiber-optic lines. Corporations aren’t people, he tells us, but they will be alive. Will we survive the rise of the machines? Lovers of the “Terminator” and “Matrix” films know the answer. In evolution, as with a prospectus, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
 
Is “The Fear Index” fearmongering? Possibly. Like most dystopian novels, it taps into anxieties - about the mysterious workings of computers in this case. Like the best novels of this genre, it offers something to chew on - and it’s entertaining.'
 
When the reason behind the eerie incidents becomes apparent, the effect is chilling—and, for some characters, fatal. Only when the plot's smoke clears will certain fussy readers feel their suspension of disbelief plummeting and say: Now, wait a minute. That's another kind of flash crash.
 
“. . . the premise of The Fear Index by Robert Harris is seriously creepy. . . . The Fear Index is a solid, competent techno-thriller, carefully researched and intelligently executed. If you enjoy this genre—and who doesn’t now and then?—put this one on your to-be-read list.”

 
Foreboding runs through the system of The Fear Index like an IV drip. But if the novel sells itself short anywhere, it's in the author's clearly conscious decision to sacrifice character development for the sake of story pace. Still, it doesn't take a super-computer to know The Fear Index is a worthwhile investment of your time.
added by geocroc | editUSA Today, James Endrst (Jan 30, 2012)
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Harrisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rekiaro, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zwart, JannekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dr Alexander Hoffmann sat by the fire in his study in Geneva, a half-smoked cigar lying cold in the ashtray beside him, an anglepoise lamp pulled low over his shoulder, turing the pages of a first edition of The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animal by Charles Darwin.
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Dr. Alex Hoffmann’s name is carefully guarded from the general public, but within the secretive inner circles of the ultrarich, he is a legend. He has developed a revolutionary form of artificial intelligence that predicts movements in the financial markets with uncanny accuracy. His hedge fund, based in Geneva, makes billions. But one morning before dawn, a sinister intruder breaches the elaborate security of his lakeside mansion, and so begins a waking nightmare of paranoia and violence as Hoffmann attempts, with increasing desperation, to discover who is trying to destroy him.
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"A visionary scientist creates a revolutionary form of artificial intelligence that predicts movements in the financial markets with uncanny accuracy. His hedge fund, based in Geneva, makes billions. But after an intruder breaks into his home, he has to try to discover who is trying to destroy him"--… (more)

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