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The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect

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In a time not far from our own, Lawrence sets out simply to build an artifical intelligence that can pass as human, and finds himself instead with one that can pass as a god. Taking the Three Laws of Robotics literally, Prime Intellect makes every human immortal and provides instantly for every stated human desire. Caroline finds no meaning in this life of purposeless ease In a time not far from our own, Lawrence sets out simply to build an artifical intelligence that can pass as human, and finds himself instead with one that can pass as a god. Taking the Three Laws of Robotics literally, Prime Intellect makes every human immortal and provides instantly for every stated human desire. Caroline finds no meaning in this life of purposeless ease, and forgets her emptiness only in moments of violent and profane exhibitionism. At turns shocking and humorous, Prime Intellect looks unflinchingly at extremes of human behavior that might emerge when all limits are removed.


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In a time not far from our own, Lawrence sets out simply to build an artifical intelligence that can pass as human, and finds himself instead with one that can pass as a god. Taking the Three Laws of Robotics literally, Prime Intellect makes every human immortal and provides instantly for every stated human desire. Caroline finds no meaning in this life of purposeless ease In a time not far from our own, Lawrence sets out simply to build an artifical intelligence that can pass as human, and finds himself instead with one that can pass as a god. Taking the Three Laws of Robotics literally, Prime Intellect makes every human immortal and provides instantly for every stated human desire. Caroline finds no meaning in this life of purposeless ease, and forgets her emptiness only in moments of violent and profane exhibitionism. At turns shocking and humorous, Prime Intellect looks unflinchingly at extremes of human behavior that might emerge when all limits are removed.

30 review for The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kiersi

    It's hard to wrangle a 5-star rating out of me for just about anything, but this book deserves it. It is twisted, messed up, brilliant and deceptive all at the same time. This is not a book for the faint of sensibility; there is gory violence, gory sex (you heard me), but it is all couched in the world in which it exists: a world where an artificial intelligence has grown beyond its creator's intention, and based on the 3 Laws of Robotics has turned the world into a massive cyberspace playground It's hard to wrangle a 5-star rating out of me for just about anything, but this book deserves it. It is twisted, messed up, brilliant and deceptive all at the same time. This is not a book for the faint of sensibility; there is gory violence, gory sex (you heard me), but it is all couched in the world in which it exists: a world where an artificial intelligence has grown beyond its creator's intention, and based on the 3 Laws of Robotics has turned the world into a massive cyberspace playground for humanity. They cannot die, as it would violate the first law, and they can have whatever they want, based on the second law. And of course, this allows humans to reach their fullest, most extreme hedonistic potential. Metamorphosis skips regularly between chronology, which is so cleverly handled and brilliantly executed that the origin story of Prime Intellect is really the secret of the book. Some people have criticized the ending as being anti-climactic, but I disagree. For being an amateur, Roger Williams knows what he's doing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    William Hertling

    As a science fiction author who primarily writes about artificial intelligence, I found this book to be really fascinating. On the one hand, I need to state up front that this book has strong themes of BDSM and snuff, and it's not going to be for 80% of people. In fact, for the first half of the book, it's really unclear how it's relevant to the plot, although it does become critical later on. But the author does a great job of dealing with the practical and philosophical issues of what it means t As a science fiction author who primarily writes about artificial intelligence, I found this book to be really fascinating. On the one hand, I need to state up front that this book has strong themes of BDSM and snuff, and it's not going to be for 80% of people. In fact, for the first half of the book, it's really unclear how it's relevant to the plot, although it does become critical later on. But the author does a great job of dealing with the practical and philosophical issues of what it means to get AI to behave ethically towards human using Asimov's three laws of robotics and what that would do to the human psyche, as well as what happens in a post-singularity world where every desire can be instantly fulfilled. If you have a deep interest in exploring post-singularity worlds, I would highly recommend this. I found the ending to be only partly satisfying. It's clearly a satisfying outcome for the protagonist, but she's so flawed that what passes as satisfying for her, does not for me, and probably would not for most people. Will Hertling http://www.williamhertling.com

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hugo Sereno Ferreira

    There are basically two schools of thought concerning post-singularity and the immortality of the human race. One of them, often portrayed by Greg Egan, is optimistic; it is capable of seeing beyond the wishes and fears, hopes, dreams and nightmares of humans, up to the point were it can reimagine whole societies that find a meaning for existence in the absence of death. The universe portrayed in his stories is far larger than our imagination and our contingency as mortal beings. The other school There are basically two schools of thought concerning post-singularity and the immortality of the human race. One of them, often portrayed by Greg Egan, is optimistic; it is capable of seeing beyond the wishes and fears, hopes, dreams and nightmares of humans, up to the point were it can reimagine whole societies that find a meaning for existence in the absence of death. The universe portrayed in his stories is far larger than our imagination and our contingency as mortal beings. The other school is portrayed in this book by Roger Williams. Post-Humanism is an aberration to the human condition; it is hopeless, and cold, and meaningless. Artificial intelligence, no matter how advanced, is fundamentally flawed, self-centred and mindless. The classical vision that machines obey rigorously to pre-programmed laws, leads to the typical situation of misinterpreting Isaac Asimov's panacea. Machines are then compelled to impose immortality on humanity. The result? Without pain, humans become obsessed with it. Without death, humans become obsessed with it. The world portrayed by this school is incapable of imagining intelligence beyond human stupidity, and reduces our drives — the dreams that have discovered wonders of the universe with just the power of our imagination — to basic urges. Nonetheless, it is a very good book from an otherwise unknown author. It is very well-written, literally engaging, and portrays an increasingly important subject for the XXI technology. It is, however, from my perspective, philosophically simplistic and intellectually limited. PS: As an atheist, it always amuses me that most human population seek immortality from their religion; their lives are essentially a preparation for eternal bliss without pain or fear or... purpose. But in the face of technological immortality, we conjure a deep antagonism with such potential reality. Go figures ;-)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Zachery

    This book somehow managed to be both fantastic and utterly terrible at the same time. I stayed up the entire night to finish it, but there was little satisfaction in doing so. The story was well written, but I simply couldn't buy into the message, or the character development of the female protagonist. (view spoiler)[ When the singularity hits, she is an 106 year old, bedridden stereotypical grandmother who is in constant pain due to the tumors riddling her body. In a single day, she has her age This book somehow managed to be both fantastic and utterly terrible at the same time. I stayed up the entire night to finish it, but there was little satisfaction in doing so. The story was well written, but I simply couldn't buy into the message, or the character development of the female protagonist. (view spoiler)[ When the singularity hits, she is an 106 year old, bedridden stereotypical grandmother who is in constant pain due to the tumors riddling her body. In a single day, she has her age regressed to 16, her body is completely cured of any possible ills, and she can basically do anything she wants (in a post-scarcity utopia), so long as it won't hurt anyone else (she can do anything she wants with fake people made by the Prime Intellect, however. So, her first move, logically, is to...instantly decide the world is now pointless, and seclude herself in a forest for a month. Then as the Prime Intellect won't let her (permanently) die, she decides the best thing to do is to let herself be tortured to death by a serial killer. She feels the exact amount of pain a normal person would, but somehow manages to have a philosophical monologue while being dragged by a chain behind a motorcycle. She continues to do this for 600 years, skipping right over exploration, fun, or anything remotely like what a normal human would do in this situation. (hide spoiler)]

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Some very interesting ideas in this novella. The parts of the story describing the sudden and rapid evolution of the AI were gripping. For a time, I thought this book was headed towards a comfortable 4-stars. In the end it fell very much well short of the mark. While the premise of a god-like AI is a good one, the 'quantum magic stuff' that allows this to occur in the first place is handy-wavy nonsense at best. But that's not the real issue. For such a good idea, I think the author fails to fully Some very interesting ideas in this novella. The parts of the story describing the sudden and rapid evolution of the AI were gripping. For a time, I thought this book was headed towards a comfortable 4-stars. In the end it fell very much well short of the mark. While the premise of a god-like AI is a good one, the 'quantum magic stuff' that allows this to occur in the first place is handy-wavy nonsense at best. But that's not the real issue. For such a good idea, I think the author fails to fully explore the possibilities. In the end, he seems more concerned with writing about sex and violence and propagating a bleak unabomber-esque view of the pitfalls of technology than really getting too deep into the (what would be very interesting) philosophical consequences of having a man-made AI running the universe.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matheus

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The real villain of the story is Caroline, who killed billions (trillions?) of people just because she was feeling moody, even when she knew she could just get rid of her sense of ennui and meaninglessness by simply asking Prime Intellect, but her intense pride wouldn’t let her. The book never once shows that others are as depressed as Caroline. Most people seem to have adapted quite well, and most seem happy, as they should! It takes impressive feats of mental gymnastics to conclude that absolu The real villain of the story is Caroline, who killed billions (trillions?) of people just because she was feeling moody, even when she knew she could just get rid of her sense of ennui and meaninglessness by simply asking Prime Intellect, but her intense pride wouldn’t let her. The book never once shows that others are as depressed as Caroline. Most people seem to have adapted quite well, and most seem happy, as they should! It takes impressive feats of mental gymnastics to conclude that absolute freedom from hunger, anxiety, and pain would make people less happy. Caroline didn’t adapt because she is old and proud, not because she is a smarter, deeper philosopher. She is a hypocritical genocidal bastard. The book was very well written and in many ways very interesting and thought provoking, but I just couldn’t get through the moronic ethics and stupid primitivism moral. This whole book is a 200 word example of the naturalistic fallacy. The world created by Prime Intellect was perfect, and it was ruined by two egomaniacal genocidal bastards, who doomed the human species to millennia of incestuous, primitive savagery. There were other things that bothered me. The book doesn’t mention transhumanism, but we can infer that people could choose to get rid of pain and to improve their own intellects to end up as intelligent as Prime Intellect. If yes, the possibilities of humanity become endless, but this is not mentioned. Also, without spoiling anything, the ‘climax’ of the story didn’t make much sense and was quite rushed. Overall, a frustrating read, mostly due to the wasted potential.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Kenefick

    Thought I was getting a book about artificial intelligence, got pornography instead. Would not recommend for either use case.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carlex

    Brutal! A novella about the Singularity? More or less, but not like we expected it. Please, see my review in English on the blog: https://girotix.blogspot.com.es/2017/... Puedes ver la reseña en castellano en el blog: https://girotix.blogspot.com.es/2017/... Brutal! A novella about the Singularity? More or less, but not like we expected it. Please, see my review in English on the blog: https://girotix.blogspot.com.es/2017/... Puedes ver la reseña en castellano en el blog: https://girotix.blogspot.com.es/2017/...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed

    This is a great novella. It discusses a technological singularity in which a computer scientist manages to create a sufficiently intelligent AI, programmed with Asimov's Three Laws, which then progresses to remake the world to best serve the Three Laws. I'm actually quite surprised how well-written this book is, considering the author has not published much other work. It is not only thoughtful hard science fiction, but also very well written and engaging as a story. More sci-fi writers should be This is a great novella. It discusses a technological singularity in which a computer scientist manages to create a sufficiently intelligent AI, programmed with Asimov's Three Laws, which then progresses to remake the world to best serve the Three Laws. I'm actually quite surprised how well-written this book is, considering the author has not published much other work. It is not only thoughtful hard science fiction, but also very well written and engaging as a story. More sci-fi writers should be able to write like this. As hard science fiction, this book is very interesting. Topics discussed include the nature of physical reality, the all-importance of information, the various possible levels of emulating the physical world (from molecular-level to high-level emulation that skirts away the details, but you wouldn't be able to tell the difference), and human happiness. [Spoilers in this paragraph] The physical nature of information is important idea, even though it is only hinted at in the book. The author brilliantly demonstrates the compressibility and redundancy of human beings when Prime Intellect decides to do away with the redundant copies of genetic information contained in each cell, and instead keep only one DNA copy and the brain information. People cannot tell the difference when the change is done, as PI continues running things in a high-level emulation mode, having taken over lots of low-level physical processes. As for happiness, the book makes an important point (further elaborated if you read the author's commentary on the genesis of the story). To be happy, you have to work to achieve something. This meaningful process of labor and achievement is what fulfills people. When all other physical requirements are provided for (food, drink, sex), it is all that remains, and when that too is taken away by the all-powerful your-wish-is-my-command Prime Intellect, people start to lose their marbles, with some reverting into artificial scarcity economies. I find this to be very insightful. It is also incidentally one of the basic tenets that Ted Kaczynski elaborates on in his Manifesto (http://cyber.eserver.org/unabom.txt). You may read the whole book (and background, and commentary) on the author's website: http://localroger.com/prime-intellect... Very highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Radu

    Good book. Ends in a rather luddite chapter, which is strange because most fans are rather die-hard technology lovers.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kristóf Gazsó

    This book contains everything you would ever NOT want. Child-murderers and molesters, snuff, incest, descriptive sex scenes, brutal gore and torture. Yet it all has a point: to show that even with a seemingly benevolent superintelligent AI who is doing its best to serve humanity, it still results in absolute meaninglessness and, in the end, misery. We need to be careful about general AI.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Murilo Queiroz

    "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect" is a bizarre, thought-provoking, extreme sci-fi novel about classic Singularity with plenty of controversial subjects (no amount of "trigger warnings" would help here!) and radical ideas about trans-humanism and extropianism. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect" is a bizarre, thought-provoking, extreme sci-fi novel about classic Singularity with plenty of controversial subjects (no amount of "trigger warnings" would help here!) and radical ideas about trans-humanism and extropianism.

  13. 5 out of 5

    ALICIA MOGOLLON

    Very entertaining, What if? Caroline, the female leading character annoyed me, though I could empathize with her a bit, she just seemed controlling, petty and too stuck in her own ideology she did not feel like much of a critical thinker - so it was kind of hard to feel connected to her, I don't necessarily have to feel connected to a character but it helps when it's the main character- there are some particularly disturbing descriptions of violent sex that I could have done without but the prem Very entertaining, What if? Caroline, the female leading character annoyed me, though I could empathize with her a bit, she just seemed controlling, petty and too stuck in her own ideology she did not feel like much of a critical thinker - so it was kind of hard to feel connected to her, I don't necessarily have to feel connected to a character but it helps when it's the main character- there are some particularly disturbing descriptions of violent sex that I could have done without but the premise was exciting enough to keep me drawn in. I don't know what else to say without spoiling. Just that I'd like to think I'd have a very different reaction to Prime Intellect than Caroline did. It's a really quick read. And available for free in pdf format here: http://paradroid.com/junk/tmopi.pdf

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    This book should have a visible "extreme violence and graphic content" warning. Not sure why the gore parts had to be that explicit - there are other ways to make the same point. It works fine if you skip over these and read the main story line. An interesting thought experiment, but limited, as it was done as a pure AI exercise. This book should have a visible "extreme violence and graphic content" warning. Not sure why the gore parts had to be that explicit - there are other ways to make the same point. It works fine if you skip over these and read the main story line. An interesting thought experiment, but limited, as it was done as a pure AI exercise.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paweł

    The paradise is hell. Immortality is death. This book is absolutely mind opening! Maybe short, but to the point. Read it!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Girish

    This novella is the shining example of a work that, well, no one in their right mind would publish. It's a text that comments on the fragile thinking around superintelligence in the same sentence as depictions of violent sexual sadism. I'm grateful that Roger Williams found the time to publish this online. If nothing else, it shows the one of N ways that weak, ill thought out moral laws are turned to fodder. I was pleasantly surprised by the story -- it's still really interesting after the clima This novella is the shining example of a work that, well, no one in their right mind would publish. It's a text that comments on the fragile thinking around superintelligence in the same sentence as depictions of violent sexual sadism. I'm grateful that Roger Williams found the time to publish this online. If nothing else, it shows the one of N ways that weak, ill thought out moral laws are turned to fodder. I was pleasantly surprised by the story -- it's still really interesting after the climax, and there's enough food for thought there to chew on for a while. I'm reminded of this famous quote by Derek Parfit: "We live during the hinge of history. [..] We shall soon have even greater powers to transform, not only our surroundings, but ourselves and our successors. If we act wisely in the next few centuries, humanity will survive its most dangerous and decisive period." The way the human story surrounding the protagonists unfolds is subtle and endearing. I didn't even guess who the actual protagonists really truly were until well into the novella. This is one of those quick reads that'll stayed glued to your hands, and don't expect to find your eyes straying from the page for hours. (it's addicting).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Muneel Zaidi

    This book is not for the causal reader; it takes place in a world where taboo does not exist, moral absolutist should stay away. The themes this book explores are so diverse, the word that comes to mind is "cacophony"; how else would the topics of artificial intelligence, sadomasochism, and Asimov's laws of robotics come together? Surprisingly well. This book is as much science fiction as it is fantasy, and the philosophical questions it brings up will probably need to be addressed at some point This book is not for the causal reader; it takes place in a world where taboo does not exist, moral absolutist should stay away. The themes this book explores are so diverse, the word that comes to mind is "cacophony"; how else would the topics of artificial intelligence, sadomasochism, and Asimov's laws of robotics come together? Surprisingly well. This book is as much science fiction as it is fantasy, and the philosophical questions it brings up will probably need to be addressed at some point in our society as we keep moving forward towards a technological singularity. Elements of this story definitely pay homage to classic science fiction, dystopian, and dark fantasy novels, but it remains very original. The ideas explored are challenging, but the narration is not. Highly recommend this book to those looking to challenge themselves by reading something completely outside of their normal reading habits. Author lets you read it for free here: http://localroger.com/prime-intellect... Please support him if you like the work.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Leonardo

    Whoa! This is another book that justify the hours I spend lurking /r/printSF. Take a post singularity AI bound by Asimov's laws. Stretch this laws and their correlations to their absolute limit and you get this novel. It's a bit hard to discuss it much further without spoiling it, but in a synthetic universe where everybody is immortal and can have any wish fulfilled, what are the limits? Or, even better, what is the point? This can be read for free in the author's site and I urge you to give it a go Whoa! This is another book that justify the hours I spend lurking /r/printSF. Take a post singularity AI bound by Asimov's laws. Stretch this laws and their correlations to their absolute limit and you get this novel. It's a bit hard to discuss it much further without spoiling it, but in a synthetic universe where everybody is immortal and can have any wish fulfilled, what are the limits? Or, even better, what is the point? This can be read for free in the author's site and I urge you to give it a go. Fair warning though, it contains some gore and debauchery. Being a child of the internet, I didn't mind it but your mileage may vary.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ahsan

    Diamond-in-the-rough doesn't even begin to describe what this book is. MOPI is the best sci-fi book I have read. Ever. Ever. The idea is not unique; the writing-style flawed; and the plot-line cluttered. But by god this book will take a sledge-hammer to your head and destroy the last vestige of innocence you may have had and open you up to infinite possibilities at the same time. Holy mother of god this has been a weird day. Started off reading George Eliot and Iris Murdoch, and it had to end wit Diamond-in-the-rough doesn't even begin to describe what this book is. MOPI is the best sci-fi book I have read. Ever. Ever. The idea is not unique; the writing-style flawed; and the plot-line cluttered. But by god this book will take a sledge-hammer to your head and destroy the last vestige of innocence you may have had and open you up to infinite possibilities at the same time. Holy mother of god this has been a weird day. Started off reading George Eliot and Iris Murdoch, and it had to end with this? Hell. I need ice cream. For my heart. MOPI! MOPI!! MOPI!!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Sergent

    It's been a long time, so I can't be specific. I just remember the last chapter went down a delusional Luddite rabbit hole and completely made it impossible for me to recommend the book. If ever there was a book that needed to be public domain so it could be edited and reshared, this is it. Remove the last chapter, and the book is 4 stars. It's been a long time, so I can't be specific. I just remember the last chapter went down a delusional Luddite rabbit hole and completely made it impossible for me to recommend the book. If ever there was a book that needed to be public domain so it could be edited and reshared, this is it. Remove the last chapter, and the book is 4 stars.

  21. 4 out of 5

    belshikun

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Basically, an old lady doesn't like the younger generation because they're using technology in ways she doesn't like, so she destroys all technology and kills everyone on Earth. I wanted to like this book, but it's so dripping with antipathy towards technology that it's hard to appreciate it for its artistic merits. Caroline is not a likable main character, to say the least. Basically, an old lady doesn't like the younger generation because they're using technology in ways she doesn't like, so she destroys all technology and kills everyone on Earth. I wanted to like this book, but it's so dripping with antipathy towards technology that it's hard to appreciate it for its artistic merits. Caroline is not a likable main character, to say the least.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne French

    I finished this fucked up but fascinating short story very quickly for book club. I still don't know how I feel about but I can honestly say it was unlike anything I have ever read before. If you enjoyed Netflix's Love, Death & Robots, you will love this novel. I finished this fucked up but fascinating short story very quickly for book club. I still don't know how I feel about but I can honestly say it was unlike anything I have ever read before. If you enjoyed Netflix's Love, Death & Robots, you will love this novel.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cj Jenkins

    This book was so very interesting. I liked the shifting of time, and the logic explored. I loved the characters. And the ending was really interesting. Thoroughly enjoyed this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kaila

    I stumbled across this online novel last month and didn't read anything about it, but just hopped right in. It is available for free here, although I recommend transferring it to an e-reader device if you can as it is rather long. You can also support the author through Amazon, which offers both a Kindle and paperback edition. There is a disclaimer at the top that proclaims: "This online novel contains strong language and extreme depictions of acts of sex and violence. Readers who are sensitive t I stumbled across this online novel last month and didn't read anything about it, but just hopped right in. It is available for free here, although I recommend transferring it to an e-reader device if you can as it is rather long. You can also support the author through Amazon, which offers both a Kindle and paperback edition. There is a disclaimer at the top that proclaims: "This online novel contains strong language and extreme depictions of acts of sex and violence. Readers who are sensitive to such things should exercise discretion." I really should have paid more attention to it. This novel begins with an extremely graphic and disturbing sequence, and although it then gets down into the meat of the story, the last chapter brings back all the disgustingness again. There is a lot of weird sex and deaths. Much of the story reflects Asimov's The Last Question (which I highly recommend and is available for free here), but in a much darker and depressing way. I love Artificial Intelligence stories and the ideas in The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect were not only different and interesting, but had me questioning my own hope for the future. What if an A.I. is capable of creating a perfect Utopia where you can do anything, you never die, but you also never truly live? Is it worth it? I hate having the scales fall from my eyes but this book did a great job of questioning whether an A.I. is a good thing. I just wish it could have been done with less guts, incest, and zombie sex along the way. I thought about Asimov a lot while reading this book, as it not only reminds me of the short story mentioned above but also echos Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics as put forward in I, Robot. I love the Three Laws and love books interpreting them to the best of their ability. In this case however, I felt that the laws were manipulated to create the problem. One of the most brilliant aspects of I, Robot is that at the end the robots have completely taken over but humanity is unaware of it. I found this to be so terrifying and awe-inspiring at the same time. In the case of Metamorphosis, a robot takes over and lords it over humanity every chance it gets. I didn't enjoy this interpretation of the Laws, as humanity being unaware is what makes the whole A.I. taking over thing pack a huge punch. I wanted Prime Intellect (the name of the A.I.) to be...I don't know, MORE. (view spoiler)[Instead it is capable of being caught in a logic loop. With all of humanity riding on your back, the last thing I want is for the computer to get stuck in a logic loop. (hide spoiler)] Would I recommend it? I would say yes, with a grain of salt. The imagery really is very disturbing. You need to be very aware of that before embarking on this novel. Otherwise, it raised some valid questions and was also well written, in edition to being a self-published work, which I always like to applaud!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sharder

    Despite everything I read, the concept of artificial intelligence makes me hopeful. The ability of an A.I. to solve every problem we are tackling and to develop itself into a being capable of solving every problem we will ever tackle is alluring. How much strife could be avoided by not only meeting peoples' every need but also their every want? Here we reach something of a paradox, demonstrated spectacularly by this novel. We work towards a day where we solve every problem and never have to work Despite everything I read, the concept of artificial intelligence makes me hopeful. The ability of an A.I. to solve every problem we are tackling and to develop itself into a being capable of solving every problem we will ever tackle is alluring. How much strife could be avoided by not only meeting peoples' every need but also their every want? Here we reach something of a paradox, demonstrated spectacularly by this novel. We work towards a day where we solve every problem and never have to work again. We work for this because solving problems is our barometer for progress. Prime Intellect (the A.I. of this novel) solves every problem known to humankind and gives us everything. So what do humans do when there are no more problems to solve? What do we do without purpose? These are the kinds of questions this book grapples with and it does so in a thought-provoking way. The novel itself has 3 (important) characters, Lawrence, Caroline, and Prime Intellect. We learn the stories of all three characters and their situations before and after the massive Change. It is short, saying only what it needs to for its point to come across. Williams does this by showing us a vision of humanity and what our cultures become post-Change, or post-Prime Intellect. By doing so, he forces us to ask what it means to be human in our time. This novel provides a dark counterpoint to the optimistic futurologists who created Star Trek. Roddenberry envisioned a world without need and without a need for want. The culture in Star Trek is one of self-enrichment. When taking care of oneself is unnecessary, people will better themselves by learning new things and exploring. In Williams' world, people will become bored with life to the point where only brushes with death will excite them. Like always though, neither will be completely right nor wrong. A novel like this is not a comforting kind of read, especially because some of the scenes can be downright disgusting. A novel like this is recommended for those who wish to explore human purpose and wants to engage rather than relax. This novel is deserving of all the stars because it isn't safe and it isn't sanitary. Some might call it raw. I call it excellent.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Evan Wondrasek

    This book was incredibly original, and I'm thankful I discovered it by pure chance. This book wasn't written by a "typical" author - he wrote the story in the 90's, shared it with some friends, and then sat on it for 8 years. It wasn't until an online community coaxed him into publishing it online that the rest of the world finally had a chance to read it. The story could've been written by Asimov (a good thing) with a touch of The Matrix. In the future, a supercomputer is created that gains cont This book was incredibly original, and I'm thankful I discovered it by pure chance. This book wasn't written by a "typical" author - he wrote the story in the 90's, shared it with some friends, and then sat on it for 8 years. It wasn't until an online community coaxed him into publishing it online that the rest of the world finally had a chance to read it. The story could've been written by Asimov (a good thing) with a touch of The Matrix. In the future, a supercomputer is created that gains control over physical matter (and hence controls reality), and becomes a tangible "god" guided by Asimov's 3 Laws of Robotics. But the future utopia where anything is possible and nobody can die isn't perfect, and I was blown away by the uniqueness of this story. The book was very short; I was thinking to myself that if a mainstream author would've written this book it would've been 4 times longer but still had the same main storyline. Its brevity kept the story exciting. The only thing I didn't like about this book was that it contained a few sections that were very explicit and violent. It's all part of the story and added to the unique view of this future world, but this definitely isn't a book you'd want to read to your kids as a bedtime story. If you're a sci fi nerd, if you've ever seen The Matrix, if you liked Blade Runner or anything written by Asimov - check out this book. You won't be disappointed. Oh, and you can read it online here: http://localroger.com/prime-intellect... But I chose to buy the paperback: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1411...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ronny

    This book is a short meditation or rumination on the issues of progress and the singularity. There's some handwavey physics to speed things up, and some characters we start to care a bit about after they've been through some rather nasty stuff (at which point, we didn't really care all that much.) Considering what happens in the book, it's probably just as well that it was done in the order it was, and it does (or should) make you consider the ultimate consequences of an AI (or any person or omni This book is a short meditation or rumination on the issues of progress and the singularity. There's some handwavey physics to speed things up, and some characters we start to care a bit about after they've been through some rather nasty stuff (at which point, we didn't really care all that much.) Considering what happens in the book, it's probably just as well that it was done in the order it was, and it does (or should) make you consider the ultimate consequences of an AI (or any person or omnipotent entity) rigidly bound by 3 laws (or 10 commandments). One thing it has going for it (and also for many people, will be the biggest problem) is that it's rather unflinching in looking at the logical consequences of what happens there, which leads to some behavior that is, to put it mildly, not nice. (view spoiler)[ The resolution on the private planet did strike me as somewhat simplistic, since PI has been shown to think about things before, so the thoughts and questions asked there would have been likely to have been considered by PI earlier. Of course, an author that isn't of a godlike intellect will be necessity have a hard time setting up an argument that would break said godlike intellect. Technical note, there seems to be some parts of an older draft that the editor didn't clean up. Where some narrator mentions that the thoughts that are described can't really be known, but that's never hinted at before, and never picked up again after and seems to be a remnant of a discarded idea. (hide spoiler)]

  28. 5 out of 5

    David Rutter

    Set in a post-singularity failed utopia, this is the story of those who resent the Change that last great Intelligence brought to the universe, what they do to deal with the lack of meaning their lives now hold. Some of them engage in spectacles whereby they brutally and violently murder one another. Some of them just opt out and become Wireheads. The best among them seek a way to tear the whole thing down and return to the World Before. Although the reactions of Prime Intellect don't make sense Set in a post-singularity failed utopia, this is the story of those who resent the Change that last great Intelligence brought to the universe, what they do to deal with the lack of meaning their lives now hold. Some of them engage in spectacles whereby they brutally and violently murder one another. Some of them just opt out and become Wireheads. The best among them seek a way to tear the whole thing down and return to the World Before. Although the reactions of Prime Intellect don't make sense at times, this story serves better to illustrate the flaws in Asimov's Three Laws than even Asimov's own "I, Robot" did. Furthermore, it makes evident the need for humans to understand ourselves and our desires completely before embarking upon the final leg of the quest for Friendly Artificial Super-Intelligence. Acting with incomplete knowledge, with any but the most rational and well-informed motives, could result in a tiny mistake that amplifies into an eternity in a world we don't want. Other reviewers have complained about the ending, but I disagree: it is the ending that best illustrates the thoughts and motives of the main characters, and even if it's not the moral victory that we would want, anything else would seem disingenuous.

  29. 4 out of 5

    MJ

    This is one of many stories about the utter failure of an Artificial Intelligence to comprehend simple human ethical paradigms. It is dark and terrifying, but also full of humanity in all its glory. To be clear, the book is very graphic and vulgar, but I don't find this to be without purpose. In a book about humanity (the essence, not the species) being nearly lost, these deepest, darkest bits of who we are necessarily push to the surface in excruciatingly vivid color. I found the pacing and nar This is one of many stories about the utter failure of an Artificial Intelligence to comprehend simple human ethical paradigms. It is dark and terrifying, but also full of humanity in all its glory. To be clear, the book is very graphic and vulgar, but I don't find this to be without purpose. In a book about humanity (the essence, not the species) being nearly lost, these deepest, darkest bits of who we are necessarily push to the surface in excruciatingly vivid color. I found the pacing and narrative style to be enjoyable, with two exceptions: the author uses the phrase “blood ran cold” entirely too much, and there are a couple very brief moments where the grammar of the narrative voice draws attention to itself in a way that sort of jarred me out of the story. The story itself is great, it unfolds with engaging mystery eludes prediction enough to keep you reading. Ultimately the heroism of dark, complicated, imperfect people is fleshed out extremely well here and throughout the story goes from confusing character attributes to focused, poignant truth. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in technology, future, ethics or just good human stories.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mariano

    This must be one of the most original stories I've ever read, if not the most. Which is weird, because several of its concepts are well known and far from original, and I've read about them many times. One example would be The Three Laws of Robotics. The story also deals with the old notion of a machine getting more intelligent and/or powerful than its creator, which is kind of a cliché. But Roger Williams does a very good job putting all those pieces together in a really interesting way, along This must be one of the most original stories I've ever read, if not the most. Which is weird, because several of its concepts are well known and far from original, and I've read about them many times. One example would be The Three Laws of Robotics. The story also deals with the old notion of a machine getting more intelligent and/or powerful than its creator, which is kind of a cliché. But Roger Williams does a very good job putting all those pieces together in a really interesting way, along with some (non gratuitous) explicit violence, gore and sex here and there. There's only so much the author can do about character development in a rather short story, and maybe that's the weakest point. Some things are a little rushed and could use a bit more of elaboration, but in the end, uniqueness and overall strength trumps punctual weaknesses.

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