November 25, 2012 by Reader's Connection
Interesting way to find a job: An outfit in San Francisco is working with artificial intelligence. Neill Bassett’s father, who committed suicide a few years ago, left a slew of journals in which he recorded almost everything that had happened to him, every opinion he had held; and the AI people want to re-create Neill’s dad by feeding all that journal content into a computer.
Neill has no technical background, but he manages to get a job with the company, and earns his living by having conversations with “his father,” who doesn’t know that Neill is his son, or rather, was the son of the deceased fellow of whom he is a virtual replicant.
Livorno, the owner of this tiny AI firm, may believe in a possible future when people can experience moments of Singularity . . .
The Singularity refers to the moment when we will transition our personalities from aging, decomposing bodies over to timeless, never-changing computer chips, and thereby live forever–in what form no one says. It’s a Silicon Valley wet dream that otherwise reasonable people down here take very seriously.
. . . but Neill believes no such thing. He believes in the confusing reality of his new sort-of girl friend Rachel, his ex-wife Erin, and the intriguing Jenn, who works for another AI firm. His confusions–about women and about both of his fathers, the deceased fellow and the being in the computer–make Neill excellent company.
His predicament is moving, and important questions about identity are being asked, but I laugh several times as I page back through this first novel by Scott Hutchins. A Working Theory of Love is going on my 2012 gift suggestion list.