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Machines Like Me (2019)

by Ian McEwan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6243326,362 (3.67)13
"Machines Like Me occurs in an alternative 1980s London. Britain has lost the Falklands War, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power, and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. In a world not quite like this one, two lovers will be tested beyond their understanding. Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first batch of synthetic humans. With Miranda's assistance, he co-designs Adam's personality. This near-perfect human is beautiful, strong, and clever--a love triangle soon forms. These three beings will confront a profound moral dilemma. Ian McEwan's subversive and entertaining new novel poses fundamental questions: What makes us human? Our outward deeds or our inner lives? Could a machine understand the human heart? This provocative and thrilling tale warns against the power to invent things beyond our control"--… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
A very good and believable alternative universe that seems strangely very familiar. Good plotting and also clever characterisation, with philosophical musings on the nature of humanity. Recommended. ( )
  aadyer | Jun 29, 2020 |
Plenty of spoilers ahead.

There is a choice when writing this sort of book. You can put it in a near future, like Atwood's Oryx and Crake, or you can apparently put it in an alternative past. This is the 1980s, but not as we knew them. I am curious to know the motivation for this. It could be that it's harder to make up a future than edit the past to taste. Or it could be that it will make it feel more like this is how it is.

And, it seems to me, if that was McEwan's idea, he's succeeded surprisingly well. I wasn't irritated once that he'd made his own version of history - but then, most movies now are bio-pics, so why not? I guess we are used to the idea now that history is just an opinion, a story, my facts versus yours.

In fact there isn't much to choose between the two settings, both Atwood's and McEwan's are completely believable. Probably because we are already in them, her future and his past. It would be nice to think that the point of a book like this - or like the movie of a few years ago, Her - is that it's important for big picture thinkers to talk about these revolutionary changes upon us in AI. The biggest of all, that we have created our own destruction, and plenty of others working down from there. It's hard to believe that we have marginalised the role of story tellers, philosophers, sociologists, ethicists, thinkers at this crucial point in our history. Stepping onto university soil recently for the first time in a few decades, I discover that it has been completely hijacked by business. Ethics, science, thought - nothing is independent of business in these once hallowed halls of intelligence at work. How can AI possibly develop in an ethical way if it is all controlled by big money?

rest here: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2019/08/07/machines-like-us-by-ian-m... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Plenty of spoilers ahead.

There is a choice when writing this sort of book. You can put it in a near future, like Atwood's Oryx and Crake, or you can apparently put it in an alternative past. This is the 1980s, but not as we knew them. I am curious to know the motivation for this. It could be that it's harder to make up a future than edit the past to taste. Or it could be that it will make it feel more like this is how it is.

And, it seems to me, if that was McEwan's idea, he's succeeded surprisingly well. I wasn't irritated once that he'd made his own version of history - but then, most movies now are bio-pics, so why not? I guess we are used to the idea now that history is just an opinion, a story, my facts versus yours.

In fact there isn't much to choose between the two settings, both Atwood's and McEwan's are completely believable. Probably because we are already in them, her future and his past. It would be nice to think that the point of a book like this - or like the movie of a few years ago, Her - is that it's important for big picture thinkers to talk about these revolutionary changes upon us in AI. The biggest of all, that we have created our own destruction, and plenty of others working down from there. It's hard to believe that we have marginalised the role of story tellers, philosophers, sociologists, ethicists, thinkers at this crucial point in our history. Stepping onto university soil recently for the first time in a few decades, I discover that it has been completely hijacked by business. Ethics, science, thought - nothing is independent of business in these once hallowed halls of intelligence at work. How can AI possibly develop in an ethical way if it is all controlled by big money?

rest here: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2019/08/07/machines-like-us-by-ian-m... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Plenty of spoilers ahead.

There is a choice when writing this sort of book. You can put it in a near future, like Atwood's Oryx and Crake, or you can apparently put it in an alternative past. This is the 1980s, but not as we knew them. I am curious to know the motivation for this. It could be that it's harder to make up a future than edit the past to taste. Or it could be that it will make it feel more like this is how it is.

And, it seems to me, if that was McEwan's idea, he's succeeded surprisingly well. I wasn't irritated once that he'd made his own version of history - but then, most movies now are bio-pics, so why not? I guess we are used to the idea now that history is just an opinion, a story, my facts versus yours.

In fact there isn't much to choose between the two settings, both Atwood's and McEwan's are completely believable. Probably because we are already in them, her future and his past. It would be nice to think that the point of a book like this - or like the movie of a few years ago, Her - is that it's important for big picture thinkers to talk about these revolutionary changes upon us in AI. The biggest of all, that we have created our own destruction, and plenty of others working down from there. It's hard to believe that we have marginalised the role of story tellers, philosophers, sociologists, ethicists, thinkers at this crucial point in our history. Stepping onto university soil recently for the first time in a few decades, I discover that it has been completely hijacked by business. Ethics, science, thought - nothing is independent of business in these once hallowed halls of intelligence at work. How can AI possibly develop in an ethical way if it is all controlled by big money?

rest here: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2019/08/07/machines-like-us-by-ian-m... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
McEwan explores morality and humanity in an alternate 1980s Britain where Thatcher has led a disasterous Falklands campaign and Tony Benn - with the rock star worship reminist of Corbyn - is set to seize power.

A thought provoking read reflective of Britain's current political crisis, the challenges the human race faces and how the technology we have created is set to supersede us. ( )
  Georgina_Watson | Jun 14, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
McEwan thinks his literary novel about A.I. is superior to a genre that surpassed him long ago.... If McEwan had read some of the genre’s best treatments of this theme, Machines Like Me might have been a better book....the novel is larded with long, tedious passages of potted history.... he could start this lazy, flimsy novel over, only this time with the humility to learn from those who have boldly gone before
added by danielx | editSlate.com, Laura Miller (Apr 29, 2019)
 
There is a Cassandra tendency in McEwan’s fiction. His domestic dramas routinely play out against a backdrop of threatened doom. Since the portent-laden meditation on war and terrorism, Saturday, in 2005, he has also turned his gimlet attention to climate change in Solar. The opening lines of that novel – “He was running out of time. Everyone was, it was the general condition…” – have sometimes sounded like his fiction’s statement of intent. The New Yorker called his work “the art of unease”. It was ... therefore only a matter of time before he got around to the looming ethical anxieties of artificial intelligence.... McEwan has an abiding faith that novels are the best place to examine such ethical dilemmas, though he has little time for conventional science fiction.
added by KayCliff | editGuardian, Tim Adams (Apr 14, 2019)
 
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Wees je van de Wet die ons regeert bewust,
Want op leugens zijn wij immers niet gebouwd...

Rudyard Kipling
'Het geheim van de machines'
Dedication
TO GRAEME MITCHISON
1944-2018
First words
It was religious yearning granted hope, it was the holy grail of science.
Quotations
They couldn’t understand us, because we couldn’t understand ourselves. Their learning programs couldn’t accommodate us. If we didn’t know our own minds, how could we design theirs and expect them to be happy alongside us?
Machines aren't capable of transcribing human experience into words, and the words into aesthetic structures.
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