Pandora's Brain

  • by Calum Chace
  • Narrated by Joe Hempel
  • 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

About half the scientists researching artificial intelligence (AI) think that a conscious AI at or beyond human level will be created by 2050. If they are right, the consequence could be an intelligence explosion, in which the AI rapidly and enormously exceeds human cognitive ability.
Pandora's Brain is a science and philosophy thriller by best-selling writer Calum Chace. It uses the issues raised by the coming machine intelligence explosion as a platform for a fast-paced and thought-provoking adventure story.
Set in the very near future, it features Matt, a shy but engaging and resourceful student who discovers that his recently deceased father was involved in research that could enable the construction of the world's first conscious machine.
Matt's enquiries lead to him being kidnapped, as he is caught in the crossfire between two groups pursuing that goal - one led by a Russian billionaire and another backed by the US military. Matt has to do more than simply survive. He has to harness these powerful forces to his own ends, and his life as well as his family's is at stake.
A dramatic seaborne rescue operation, a series of brutal murders and other filmic action scenes follow. In the course of his adventures, Matt discovers that the potential upside of creating machine intelligence includes immortality and godlike powers of understanding and being - but the potential downside is immediate extinction, or worse. As he is drawn deeper into his adventure, he becomes both the symbol and the victim of a global struggle over the approach to be taken toward this powerful new technology. A landmark decision at a meeting of the UN General Assembly forces Matt to make a fateful decision, which sparks the story's final twist.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Is this where A.I. is heading?

The story in this book grabbed my attention from the beginning. I received this book at no cost from the narrator through Goodreads for my honest review, and I am glad to have listened to it. The pacing moved at a decent speed and presented quite a bit of information in digestible packets. Overall, you’ll get some fast paced action, nice descriptions, and an appreciable amount of wittiness thrown in. The narrator gets the tone of the characters across well, making for an enjoyable listening experience.

The scientific information presented didn’t feel like a barrage of theories and concepts that would get in the way of the story. I knew a good amount of the scientific and technological information presented in this book, but there was also a significant amount of information that was new to me, such that I paused the book to note something I wanted to research more. A book that makes a reader actively want to look-up more information always gets kudo’s from me. There were some nice analogies inside this book to drive home the fear that may come about if (when?) an AI becomes reality.

There is a fair bit of both narration and dialog written in the book. Joe Rempel had both distinct character voices which made the dialogue easy to follow, and a narration voice that was easy to listen to without getting in the way of the story. I got the sense Mr. Rempel enjoyed the story he was reading so he really got into the story (making it better for the listener) and had a good sense of what tone and emotion to put in the voices of the characters.

This is an enjoyable story that should appeal to anyone who has an interest in sci-fi, specifically in the realm of realistic / futuristic sci-fi.
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- Alex

A thrilling tale of the near-future, AI’s and all.

This book follows Matt, a brilliant and incredibly likable student near London who has just found out that his father was killed in a car accident. He has also found out that his father was involved in some incredible steps towards making Artificial Intelligence a reality through his work in neuro-biology and brain scanning. Upon finding this out, Matt decides to study the same things. Little does he know just what is waiting for him once he begins this journey. Follow Matt and his friends and family on a ride that you won’t believe is unfolding in front of you.

I listened to this on audiobook, which was given to me by the narrator in exchange for an honest. The narration was solid, and enjoyable. Even through some of the hard science, his narration was easy to follow. He did what I would call a combination of narration and dramatization. There were parts where a dramatization were used (different voices) but it wasn’t done for each new character that was included. There is nothing wrong with this, just needed to point it out. The audio quality was great and I had no issues with studio noise or anything of the sorts.

I’ve been reading a lot of AI fiction lately, and it is fascination (see my reviews for numerous Nick Thacker including “I, Sargeant” and “The Gray Picture of Dorian”. Or my review of “Networked” and her novella “Too Good For This World” by LK Chapman.

This genre is one that I will quickly be adding to my “must read” genres because I’m always sucked in and spit out by the authors wanting more and more. This book was no different Calum Chace brilliantly explained a lot of the science behind the AI within his novel and it is incredibly believable (even if the science is impossible at this point). Chace and the narration by Joe Hempel had me on the edge of my seat and staying up WAY too late to find out what was going to become of Matt.

If you are a fan of Science Fiction, AI, or just a gripping Technothriller – this book is for you. And do yourself (and your eyes) a favor and grab the audiobook, you won’t be disappointed.
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- Brian

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-21-2015
  • Publisher: Three Cs