Review: Daemon by Daniel Suarez

DuttonCoverIsometric01Daemon by Daniel Suarez is a tech-thriller on the level of Neuromancer and Snow Crash, books that push the boundaries but still seem real enough to work.

Most doomsday stories depend on a strong AI to destroy civilization, like Skynet or Eagle Eye, but Daniel Suarez’s book Daemon proposes the terrifying scenario that the human race could be trapped by narrow distributed AI. Far simpler computer programs that don’t embody consciousness but are programmed to respond to events by triggering voice synthesized phone calls, network take-overs, asynchronously coordinated manufacturing, and so forth. Impossible to shut down, and self-sustaining like current viruses and trojan horses, these bots are triggered by the obituary of Matthew Sobol to enact his master plan for a new world order by dismantling our current civilization. Sobol was a ultra-rich game designer who died from brain cancer, and the AI in his games succeeded not by anticipating the players but by manipulating them, and this is the key point in why his Daemon succeeds.

I couldn’t stop reading this book, and was a little disappointed that it ended on a cliffhanger, but now that I found out the sequel Freedom is underway I can’t wait to see what happens!
While this book is a thrill ride that is going to make a fantastic movie, it also made me re-evaluate where technology is taking us and what it’s weak points are. IT security experts haven’t dismissed the scenario in the book out of hand, which just goes to show how solid our infastructure is right now. Be afraid. We’re all connected…and there is no escape…

Preview chapters available on thedaemon.com.

Daniel Suarez presentation on how bots control our lives right now at FORA.tv (video).

2009.07.08