Sawyer 's new rilogy about an emerging artificial intelligence.For a fairly short volume, and one that lacks any sort of action or suspense, there 's a lot packed into Wake.
he central plot, which deals with Caitlin Decter 's bid to gain sight and how this leads her to find the Web 's emergent intelligence, happens against a backdrop of the ongoing information wars in China and research into primate intelligence in the United States.
Therefore, because the descriptions are accurate, Sawyer is educating the less technologically-adept even as he immerses us in this very human plot.
. She mentions Keller 's descriptions of what her thought processes were like before she learned how to ommunicate and interact with the external world.
Jaynes' The Origin of Consciousness similarly discusses a theory about a turning point in human history where the two halves of the brain managed to talk to each other and act on conscious thoughts instead of instinct.In China, the Communist Party decides to kill several thousand people in a remote province to eliminate the threat of H5N1.
Both are the actions of humans, yet the idea of killing thousands of people merely to prevent the spread of an infection seems, at least to me, very inhuman.Then there 's the bonobo-chimpanzee hybrid, Hobo, who can communicate via sign language and startles everyone when he paints representational art—a profile of one of his researchers—instead of the typical abstract pictures so far produced by non-human primates.
way Sawyer portrays Hobo makes him seem far more human than he actually is, and tha is where, as a sceptic, I have to balk.
And Sawyer 's portrayal of Hobo 's humanity serves its purpose of parallelling the development of the Web AI.This final piece of the plot puzzle is what onnects the other three, of course.
former were just so unique yet tantalizing, since it really drives home the point that the Web is a fluctuating network of constant streaming data and not some ort of static series of Facebook pages and Google search results all stored in a database and delivered to your browser when you hit " Go. " To return to the motif of humanity, however, I 'd like to point out a section toward the nd of he memoir, in which Caitlin leads the emerging intelligence to Wikipedia, which it consumes eagerly, and then onto Project Gutenberg: And then, and finally, and then—It was—The gold mine.The mother lode.
and I grew even more.Firstly, I 'd like to note that Sawyer has described precisely how I thin about books, about reading in general, and about wonderful libraries like Project Gutenberg.
Firstl, while Sawyer is far from the first SF author or scientist to make tha point, it 's an important one when it omes to discussing how to deal with an artificial intelligence, should we create one or should one emerge spontaneously as it does in Wake.
One thing I noticed is that instead of providing visual descriptions of places and people around Caitlin, Sawyer is always careful to describe in terms of sound, touch, and smell.
As omeone who does n't really visualize things when I ead, I did n't miss the lack of visual description and appreciated this change.Sawyer also introduced me to how the blind and visually-impaired interact with the Web. Oh, I never knew about screenreaders like JAWS and refreshable Braille displays, etc., but tha was the last time I 'd eally thought about how they get used.
For Caitlin, this was all just normal for her, and through her eyes I began to understand how it was necessary to interact with the world in this way.And beyond her blindness, as a person, Caitlin is a well-thought-out character.
Sawyer reminds us that the injustic in China has been ongoing for decades now, and especially if the People 's Republic is doomed as some projections claim, that wo n't stop them from committing further atrocities before they fade into history.