Even though I’m not the most prolific reader, I really enjoy it. Especially when you get into a book that you just can’t put down.
I had gotten away from reading regularly the past couple of years with only occasional reading of business books and other non-fiction. Around the middle of last year, I decided it was time to start broadening my horizons and delving into some science fiction based upon some posts I had seen on Brad Feld’s blog. Basically, it dawned on me that reading science fiction might provide an indication of coming technology advancements.
For my first venture into the genre, I picked up Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears by William Hertling based on a review written by Brad Feld. I wasn’t disappointed.
I’ll admit that the book takes a bit to get going, especially if you have an engineering background. Hertling uses the first part of the book to provide some technical background to the subject of artificial intelligence and how engineering and technical decisions are made in a corporate environment. It helps to make the rest of the book more accessible to non-technical types, and it hits a little too close to home if you have an engineering background, particularly in software.
The second half of the book is a fast-paced action thriller which I had a hard time putting down. In fact, it probably took me the better part of a week to pour through the first half of the book and one evening of reading to finish the second half. I stayed up a little later than normal one night polishing it off.
Some of the technology in the book is a little far-fetched, at least today, but a lot of it sounds and feels very plausible. In fact, it’s almost scary. If you read the book and are interested in how the author feels about his technology “inventions”, check out this post on his blog.
Once I finished Avogadro Corp, I had to pick up the follow-on, A.I Apocalypse. A.I Apocalypse gets right to the action and is pretty much non-stop from start to finish. I polished it off quickly in a couple of evening sittings. It’s a sequel to Avogadro Corp and is set about 10 years beyond the conclusion of Avogadro Corp, which is set in near present times. Hertling does a great job introducing a new plotline and characters into A.I. Apocalypse while masterfully weaving in elements and characters from the first book. The other thing I like about A.I. is that it makes bigger leaps in technology prediction that are for the most part very plausible. In fact, after reading it, I could easily visualize how the technology progression could happen and the impact it would have on my current business.
My recommendation, Avogadro Corp and A.I. Apocalypse are must read books. They will open your eyes and provide a good sense of where technology is heading. Sure there are some items that aren’t entirely plausible, but my gut tells me that 80-90% of the technology described in the books will come to fruition within the next 10-15 years, if not sooner.
I’e become a fan of Hertling’s work, and I’m looking forward to the third installment in the series, The Last Firewall.