The Kraken Project by Lincoln Child
NASA is sending a probe into Kraken, a methane sea on Titan, and needs the unit to make decisions in real time since signals between it and earth will be four hours roundtrip. Melissa Shepherd is in charge of the design team of the AI and she creates a program she names Dorothy to control the probe. During a test the AI feels threatened by conditions and sparks a catastrophe that kills seven people, injuries many more, and destroys the test center of NASA. As Melissa is recovering in the hospital she receives a Skype call. It’s Dorothy. She escaped NASA and fled to the Internet, and she’s really, really, upset. On the Internet Dorothy learns all sorts of horrible things, but through communication with Melissa, and good guy Wyman Ford (he’s a recurring character in Child’s books) she is encouraged to seek out the good in the human race. What would an AI with access to the information of the world learn? What would it be capable of? Would it change the world for the better, or the worse?
I enjoy Child as a solo author and when he writes with Douglas Preston. This wasn’t my favorite, but I think it’s because I listened to it. The AI speaks slower than normal, and the reader did a good job recreating its speech patterns depending on its mode of communication, but I found it jarring. In the book the author brings up some interesting questions about AI and what would happen if we were truly successful in creating one. And as usual in his books the ending is a zinger.