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New Book: The Rise of Siri by Shlok Vaidya

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

The Rise of Siri by Shlok Vaidya 

Shlok Vaidya has launched his first novel,  dystopian techno-thriller in e-Book format entitled The Rise of Siri.  Having been the recipient of a late draft/early review copy, I can say Shlok on his first time out as a writer of sci-fi has crafted a genuine page turner.

Companion site to the book can be found here –  The Rise of Siri.com

Blending military-security action, politics, emerging tech and high-stakes business enterprise, the plot in The Rise of Siri moves at a rapid pace. I read the novel in two sittings and would have read it straight through in one except I began the book at close to midnight.  Set in a near-future America facing global economic meltdown and societal disintegration,  Apple led by CEO Tim Cook  and ex-operator Aaron Ridgeway, now head of  Apple Security Division, engages in a multi-leveled darwinian struggle of survival in the business, political and even paramilitary realms, racing against geopolitical crisis and market collapse , seeking corporate salvation but becoming in the process, a beacon of hope.

Vaidya’s writing style is sharp and spare and in The Rise of Siri he is blending in the real, the potential with the fictional. Public figures and emerging trends populate the novel; readers of this corner of the blogosphere will recognize themes and ideas that have been and are being debated by futurists and security specialists playing out in the Rise of Siri as Shlok delivers in an action packed format.

Strongly recommended and….fun!

Freedom(TM) by Suarez

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Freedom (TM) by Daniel Suarez

Shlok and John Robb have already endorsed Freedom(TM) by Daniel Suarez, the sequel to his earlier bestselling Daemon and I’d like to briefly join them in praising Freedom(TM) as a must-read work of science fiction. One that meshes well with the societal problems covered on today’s front pages while describing an emergent world of the Darknet being shepherded by the elusive, increasingly powerful, Daemon.

Other Posts on Freedom(TM):

Red Herrings

Get Smarter Futurism

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

Jamais Cascio of Open the Future has a piece on possible extrinsic, pharmaceutical and evolutionary modifications to human intelligence in The Atlantic Monthly ( I read it on my Kindle):

Get Smarter

….Our present century may not be quite as perilous for the human race as an ice age in the aftermath of a super-volcano eruption, but the next few decades will pose enormous hurdles that go beyond the climate crisis. The end of the fossil-fuel era, the fragility of the global food web, growing population density, and the spread of pandemics, as well as the emergence of radically transformative bio- and nano­technologies-each of these threatens us with broad disruption or even devastation. And as good as our brains have become at planning ahead, we’re still biased toward looking for near-term, simple threats. Subtle, long-term risks, particularly those involving complex, global processes, remain devilishly hard for us to manage.

But here’s an optimistic scenario for you: if the next several decades are as bad as some of us fear they could be, we can respond, and survive, the way our species has done time and again: by getting smarter. But this time, we don’t have to rely solely on natural evolutionary processes to boost our intelligence. We can do it ourselves.

….Yet in one sense, the age of the cyborg and the super-genius has already arrived. It just involves external information and communication devices instead of implants and genetic modification. The bioethicist James Hughes of Trinity College refers to all of this as “exo­cortical technology,” but you can just think of it as “stuff you already own.” Increasingly, we buttress our cognitive functions with our computing systems, no matter that the connections are mediated by simple typing and pointing. These tools enable our brains to do things that would once have been almost unimaginable:

  • powerful simulations and massive data sets allow physicists to visualize, understand, and debate models of an 11?dimension universe;
  • real-time data from satellites, global environmental databases, and high-resolution models allow geophysicists to recognize the subtle signs of long-term changes to the planet;
  • cross-connected scheduling systems allow anyone to assemble, with a few clicks, a complex, multimodal travel itinerary that would have taken a human travel agent days to create.

If that last example sounds prosaic, it simply reflects how embedded these kinds of augmentation have become. Not much more than a decade ago, such a tool was outrageously impressive-and it destroyed the travel-agent industry.

That industry won’t be the last one to go. Any occupation requiring pattern-matching and the ability to find obscure connections will quickly morph from the domain of experts to that of ordinary people whose intelligence has been augmented by cheap digital tools. Humans won’t be taken out of the loop-in fact, many, many more humans will have the capacity to do something that was once limited to a hermetic priesthood. Intelligence augmentation decreases the need for specialization and increases participatory complexity.

Friday, August 24th, 2007


A while back, while sitting around an alcohol -laden table with Dan of tdaxp, Shlok and Isaac and listening to an evolving debate (primarily between Dan and Isaac) over the probable nature of AI, references to William Gibson’s first novel, Neuromancer were made. I then chimed in that I had never read the book – a statement that was greeted with surprise and some degree of mock horror. This had happened to me once before with Dave Schuler and Lexington Green, except that in that instance the author was Philip K. Dick and the book then was The Man in the High Castle. Evidently, something about having drinks with fellow bloggers is a spur to my reading classic science fiction.

Admittedly, I am not a great reader of fiction, at least if ” great” means ” broadly read”. As a youth, I did dive deeply into J.R.R. Tolkien, Ayn Rand and George Orwell – I’ve probably read every word ever published by the first two authors and much by the third. Russian lit figures prominently, especially Dostoyevskii and Solzhenitsyn. Of American writers, I’ve read a scattering of Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis, J.D. Salinger, John Steinbeck and a few others, but none systematically or deeply.

I’ve meant to read Quo Vadis, Don Quixote and Blood Meridian for years and have yet to do so. I have only a few works of Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Koestler, Balzac and Victor Hugo under my belt. The reason being that for me, the siren call of non-fiction is all too strong. There are too many important books that ” must” be read ASAP, piled on top of others that ” should” be read; picking up good fiction under those conditions almost feels like shirking a responsibility.

I say this as a preface to acknowledging how much I enjoyed reading Neuromancer. While the book is old hat to sci-fi fans, it came as a fresh voice to me, mixed with an unfolding appreciation of how Gibson’s fictional efforts have influenced or anticipated the evolution of the culture. Movies, TV shows, references, characters all flashed through my mind as I read it and Gibson’s economy of explanation allowed my mind the freedom to engage the text and fill in the blanks. Reticence is a vital skill that few authors ever manage to master but Gibson has it. I’m sorry that I didn’t read the book back in the early 1980’s when the novelty of the book’s imaginative scenario were at peak.

Isaac has pointed me toward Pattern Recognition and I now have an itch for Spook Country as well. If you have read Gibson’s books, what do you think of them and what titles do you favor ?

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