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[personal profile] reddragdiva

"I was already having a bad week, and then the murders started."

A tech journalist goes to a Singularity conference, full of transhumanists and "techbrolibertarians" -- the people from Silicon Valley who want to rewrite your life and "disrupt" your world. Then they start killing each other off.

This isn't a worldview-shifting literary steamroller. It's a light and enjoyable read that knows what it is, and does that well. It supplies a thoroughly readable cosy mystery with which you can enjoy playing detective and enjoy as a story on subsequent reads.

And it's also a shot aimed directly at the LessWrong "rationalist" subculture and its offshoots. I know this subculture entirely too well, and cackled my way through.

But you don't need to know the players to recognise the type, nor their big plans for everybody: "the type that doesn't like to believe there's anything that can't be ordered by a rational mind."

The Safe Singularity Foundation is based on the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, whose forum site LessWrong came up with "Roko's Basilisk", the most famous idea to be associated with them (even as MIRI repudiate it) that the "Basilisk" of the title is based on: the idea that the coming Artificial Intelligence to rule humanity will be so good for humanity that it will be ethically obliged to punish those who knew it was possible but did not contribute to its creation.

Andrew did spend some time on LessWrong:

Yeah, I was on LessWrong for quite a while, in a very low-key way. My period of time there basically went “These are people talking about interesting stuff. Admittedly they have a few odd beliefs like the cryonic thing, but interesting people.” “…apart from this virulent racist who keeps talking about IQ…” “…and all these people who keep talking about being ‘Pick-Up Artists’…” “my God, this place needs to be burned down and the earth salted!”

The ideas are the actual stuff from the subculture - e.g., the weird notions about AI that Elon Musk starts on when he isn't talking about cars or spaceships. None of this is exaggerated. And the story leverages the ideas well.

(He takes a moment to get stuck into Bitcoiners too.)

The book doesn't get bogged down in the abstruse concepts. You will be able to play detective on the first read, and enjoy the story on the second. I read and commented on an early draft (I'm in the acknowledgements), bought it the moment I saw it was available and am most pleased to have done so. I'm also looking forward to the second Sarah Turner mystery, where she find herself dealing with a reunited rock band who all hate each other.

It's on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and Lulu paperback. UK, US.

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