Literary writers trying their hand science fiction often causes problems for SF aficionados, it annoys, as often the literary writer is unaware of the tropes of the genre, or that a particular topic may have been extremely well explored in a novel of ideas, that was published in the genre and not recognised in the classical literary world for the non SF aficionado reader, the sudden importation of tics and tells of the SF world may also rankle, although this has become much less so in recent years as so many of the great and good of the aforesaid classic world of letters have decided to write books which at least tackle the world s recent challenges by first reading a batch of the appropriate science whether the dismal science of economics, to write about the crash of 2008, or the warm science of anthropology, to write about gender in alternative histories of the future you know who I m talking about, right not Ursula le Guin , or else the science of computers, to create stories about the impact of apparently intelligent machines on robots oops, sorry, got that the wrong way round we humans aren t apparently intelligent machines, that s the robots, that is Hence to Ian McEwan s latest, Machines Like Me, an everyday tale of rape, suicide, and possibly, murder Fairly everyday stuff from this author you might think.however, in this case, he s decided to write a book set in an alternative present, with an alternative recent past, which, crucially, allows him the luxury of having Alan Turing as a living character who has pursued many of the directions hinted at in his work, so that lifelike robots are now almost an every day, if somewhat expensive reality in the world McEwan acknowledges Hodges fabulous biography of Turing as a source for background, rightly, as the character is pretty much what you d get from that work, or else from the play, Breaking the Code though less so from the film, Imitation Game Turing is also supported by a cadre of interesting loosely fictionalised people, to render the progress on AI tech plausible most notably, the real life Demis Hassabis DeepMind, also acknowledged as a source at the end of the book is relocated about 25 years earlier in time than his real self, to help Turing create the important foreground character of would you believe it, as the Cockney s have it, would you Adam and Eve Adam, an apparently functional synthetic human don t get me started on why McEwan seems unaware of the fabulous exploration of this topic in the wonderful Swedish, then Brit TV series, Humans The key real humans in this fictional work are Charlie, a mid 30s man of somewhat relative moral virtue, and his friend, Miranda, a student of very dull eras of history I assume she s called Miranda as a sly reference to Shakespeare s character from the Tempest, who uttered the words Oh Brave New World, that has such people in it , on first seeing men And of course, the source of the title of Aldous Huxley s classic literary SF dystopic vision.Here, much of the dystopic vision is of the political economic kind, and is set in a kind of mash up between 1970s 1980s Britain, with a few c.f Man in the High Castle, Philip K Dick s alt.history with some amusing takes on Thatcher, if we d spoiler alert or what if Tony Benn or what about that IRA bomb in Brighton oh, ok , I won t spoil those bits, as they make up some of the novel s interesting bits, in the sense that, for this reader at least, they created a very interesting alternative exploration of why the UK is where it is today, 3 years after the Brexit referendum.As for the foreground tale of two humans and a machine like them, I thought that Charlie and Miranda were underwritten, and Adam was overwritten i thought that the exploration of ideas like what is consciousness was about ok, but did not bring anything new to the table the tension between Phenomenology and the Turing test for what it is worth for intelligence, and notions of EQ, was covered far effectively 5 decades ago in Do Androids Dream by the aforesaid Philip K DIck who had actually studied philosophy and could write character and plot I wanted to know about Miranda s cranky dad another non spoiler there s a funny reflection on dementia and human mis judgement that involves him and Charlie and Adam.The ending did not bring a sense of an ending for me, rather left various plot line, moral questions, and unknown unknowns, still unknown.Still, McEwan sure can write, so I d recommend this book as a decent read, though below his best He really should get out , and so should I. Ich verehre Ian McEwan sehr, wann immer ein neues Buch von ihm erscheint, ist das f r mich ein Ereignis Umso entt uschter war ich von Machines Like Me Immer wieder habe ich versucht, mich auf die Geschichte einzulassen, immer wieder habe ich das Buch weggelegt und wieder zur Hand genommen Doch abgesehen von dem SF Plot, der schon berkonstruiert ist, sind es die Charaktere, die ich ihm einfach nicht abkaufe Sie sind in all ihrem Tun, in all ihren Reaktionen einfach v llig unglaubw rdig Dieses Problem hatte ich selbst bei Nutshell nicht Ich dachte immer wieder Bogus Es ist der erste Roman von McEwan, den ich weggelegt habe ohne ihn fertig zu lesen. I did something I ve never done before I read this book then immediately read it again McEwan arguably ranks among the top 5 writers of contemporary English literary novels, it is about what it is to be human, what is the nature of mind the relation between reason emotion The theme is aptly summarised by its epigraph But remember, please, the Law by which we liveWe are not built to comprehend a lie I should perhaps add, there is nothing difficult or preachy about this book It is remarkable, human humane, full of interesting insights but most of all a jolly good read Rudyard KiplingThe Secret of the Machines I loved the exploration of living with a synthetic human and the imagined 1980s British political landscape.However, I found the first person, reported speech, lengthy descriptions and self analysis tiring.I couldn t put the story down and read it avidly than anything I have read for years, but in the end found it ultimately disappointing. Wunderbarer Roman ber ein Parallelwelt England der 80er Jahre F r Leute, die die echten 80er nicht miterlebt oder Spezialwissen haben, empfiehlt sich vor der Lekt re ein kleiner berblick ber die englische Geschichte in dieser Zeit und au erdem eine Kurzbiografie von Alan Turing, inkl Lebensdaten und Todesursache. Ce roman surprenant et c est un euph misme de Ian McEwan d crit un m nage trois o le troisi me est un andro de L histoire se d roule dans une Angleterre alternative des ann es 80 o Alan Turing, John Lennon et J Kennedy sont encore en vie et o le Royaume Uni a perdu la guerre des Malouines A l heure o tout le monde parle d intelligence artificielle, ce livre soul ve des questions existentielles et si un jour un robot avait une conscience, des sentiments et sa propre conception du bien et du mal, de la justice et de l injustice Texte parfois d routant qui confirme les grandes qualit s de Ian McEwan Un tr s bon niveau d anglais est n cessaire. Review Machines Like MeA Novelby Ian McEwanNan A Talese, 2019Review by Bob LaneMay 28th 2019 Volume 23, Issue 22 In logic, the law of identity states that each thing is identical with itself By this it is meant that each thing is composed of its own unique set of characteristic qualities or features, which the ancient Greeks called its essence It is the first of the three classical laws of thought.By beginning this review with a reference to the law of identity I do not mean to suggest that McEwan s latest best seller is a philosophy textbook But, it could be I can imagine the book being used effectively in a philosophy of mind class, or a class on personhood, of a philosophy in literature class, or a class on panpsychism Panpsychism is the view that mentality is fundamental and ubiquitous in the natural world The view has a long and venerable history in philosophical traditions of both East and West and has recently enjoyed a revival in analytic philosophy.And it is also a joy to read and think about outside of the classroom I do not want to ruin the enjoyment of reading the book by suggesting it is academic and dry In an acknowledgment page at the end of the book McEwan thanks, among others, the philosopher Galen Strawson and the biographer Andrew Hodges for his biography of Alan Turing That tip of the hat reveals a great deal about the content of the book Turing is a character in the narrative set in a reimagined 1980s UK with Margaret Thatcher, the Falklands war, events from history but changed, reordered, different Strawson s philosophical interests are evident.Turing s work in artificial intelligence is central to the work His speech recognition software in the 1950s brain machine interfacing in the 1960s, and the P versus NP proof permitting artificial intelligence to jump the rail from closed system s to everyday life s open system His technological offspring includes Adam, an artificial human, one of 25 models produced worldwide, into which Charlie, a 30 something washout spends his inheritance out of curiosity but also as a ruse to woo Miranda, his neighbor who is living in the apartment above Charlie.Soon the three main characters are involved in a sort of threesome with both Adam and Charlie stating their love for Miranda Do not forget Adam is a robot As they attempt to sort out their relationship and place in the triad Adam becomes and human like a person with desires and plots and dare I say, feelings There are some amazing scenes as the relationships are strained and tested Adam drives a wedge between Charlie and Miranda by announcing to Charlie, There s a possibility Miranda is a systematic, malicious liar How does Charlie act when he thinks of Adam Is Miranda s making out with Adam a matter of a love rival or is Adam merely a bipedal vibrator Adam asserts his independence from his owner except for the necessary charging from an electric source each night Miranda has her own secret and as it is revealed we are introduced to a consideration of truth Are white lies morally acceptable in some circumstances Is saying what is true a moral imperative at all times Preparing to read this novel suggested but not necessary 1 Read about John Searle s Chinese Room argument which holds that a program cannot give a computer a mind or consciousness in in the 1980 paper Minds, Brains, and Programs in which Searle argues that Syntax is not sufficient for semantics Programs are completely characterized by their formal, syntactical structure Human minds have semantic contents Therefore, programs are not sufficient for creating a mind2 Look at Bertrand Russell s 1927 book The Analysis of Matter in which he offers a proposal for approaching the mind body problem.3 McEwan has fun with counterfactuals, many of which involve wishful historical rewrites John F Kennedy survives near death in Dallas Jimmy Carter wins a second term instead of losing to Ronald Reagan John Lennon isn t assassinated, and the Beatles regroup Margaret Thatcher is vilified after losing the Falklands War.4 The Guardian review The book touches on many themes consciousness, the role of chance in history, artificial intelligence AI, the neglected Renaissance essayist Sir William Cornwallis, the formal demands of the haiku and the unsolved P versus NP problem of computer science, but its real subject is moral choice The epigraph quotes Rudyard Kipling s poem The Secret of the Machines , which presciently expresses the uncompromising quality of the machine mind We are not built to comprehend a lie, the poem goes In Adam s digital brain, there may be fuzzy logic, but there s no fuzzy morality This clarity gives him an inhuman iciness 5 Kirkus reviews The British author s latest novel concerns a triangle formed by two humans and one android in an alternate version of England The year is 1982, the British are about to lose the Falklands War, and Alan Turing is not only still alive, but his work has helped give rise to a line of androids almost indistinguishable from humans Adam is put to work on Charlies computer making day trades He is most efficient and soon has amassed a fortune What will happen to this fortune Will Miranda s secret come out Will the love affair between Charlie and Miranda survive Is an android a person Can Adam really feel Is there a hard line between mind and mater A great read Get a copy And remember the law of identity 2019 Bob LaneBob Lane is an Emeritus Philosopher at Vancouver Island University. Random House presents the audiobook edition of Machines Like Me, by Ian McEwan Britain has lost the Falklands war, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence In a world not quite like this one, two lovers will be tested beyond their understanding Machines Like Me occurs in an alternative s London Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first batch of synthetic humans With Miranda s assistance, he co designs Adam s personality This near perfect human is beautiful, strong and clever a love triangle soon forms These three beings will confront a profound moral dilemma Ian McEwan s subversive and entertaining new novel poses fundamental questions what makes us human Our outward deeds or our inner lives Could a machine understand the human heart This provocative and thrilling tale warns of the power to invent things beyond our control moves science forward This new novel is set in 1982 Mrs Thatcher is prime minister, still clinging to power after losing in the Falklands War, when not just one or two Exocet rockets damage or sank British war ships, but many go down and the human loss is staggering Other historical facts have also been changed but this new history forms only the background for the novel and the life of Charlie Friend it narrates The most important difference is, that our current digital environment is or less present in 1982 and on top the industry has developed a humanoid robot and manufactured a pilot series of 25 machines Charlie using funds from his inheritance is one of the few Brits who actually buys one of these machines and puts him to life Interestingly this Adam apart from having to recharge regularly has a fully developed mind and a human like consciousness, which brings some surprise to Charlie s rather dull and unadventurous life After 300 pages the story stops and leaves you guessing, if there would be sequel in the future Not impossible, let s see.Good reading, some interesting thoughts and a well designed alternate history, both somewhat typical for British literature. McEwen s plot reeks of artifice and seems like a big push to put something into print The reading of it, though, can only convince you fully that the man has the smarts to bring the unlikely to most likely He has to re write recent history and fit what didn t happen to did happen and create a human character out of very un human parts The story works, it s a novel of remarkably skilled artistry, and suffers only from a slightly ever so slight outcome As with all my reading of McEwen, the pleasure and satisfaction of elegant and mature literary art is most gratifying.