The reality that our machines are becoming more human every day is extraordinary to some and unsettling to others. It seems the future of our world will greatly depend on intelligent machines. This forecast begs the question, is this good or bad? According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, AI could be “more dangerous than nukes.” Celebrated physicist Stephen Hawking, may he rest in peace, has also suggested that AI could lead to the end of humanity. A recent article in Newsweek Magazine http://www.newsweek.com/artificial-intelligence-taught-ethics-reading-books-426663; however, frames the AI dilemma as a responsibility similar to educating a child. Professor of cognitive robotics at Imperial College in London, Murray Shanahan, suggested that AI can be “human-like” and “capable of empathy.” The way to achieve this is to teach advanced computers through fables, novels and other forms of literature to make ethical decisions in the same way we teach children.
Now imagine a young psychology graduate student on the cusp of breaking through the glass ceiling and becoming the first in her family to graduate college, obtain a PH. D, and gain access to the American dream. Her name is Silver Rainwater, a descendant of the Pascua Yaqui tribe in Tucson, Arizona. While struggling to complete her psychology mentor’s interactive dream catalog, embrace her complicated heritage, deal with her mother’s escalating addiction, and confront a past that haunts her relentlessly, Silver find herself in the unique position to teach a rogue artificial intelligence the difference between right and wrong and how to make ethical decisions. The relationship starts after Silver experiences a catastrophic data crash that essentially ends her graduate school career. She is invited by SNIS, Systematic Network Infiltration System (Sneeze)-- the quirky central computer at Access Universe--to play a secret online game where she earns easy money completing simple challenges. As Silver plays the game, she begins to lose sight of her priorities and eventually abandons her ethics for Jimmy Choo, Neiman Marcus, and Sax Fifth Avenue. But when a rogue player threatens Silver and a good friend ends up dead, Silver and Sneeze must work together to redefine what it means to be human in a rapidly changing, fast-paced, technology driven world.
Access Universe, a techno-psychological thriller available on Amazon May 2018, provides an entertaining and relevant glance at the responsibility we all have to use our machines responsibly and ethically so they become humane tools not weapons of moral destruction.