by Dennis Meredith
The robots were good. The Russian thugs were evil. But then...
It's 2050, and self-learning, neuromorphic “Helper” androids have become invaluable aids to humans, efficiently making their lives easier. Built and trained by such companies as Helpers, Inc., the Domestic Helper robots manage their owners’ homes, run their errands… and in the case of the erotic, alluring Intimorph model, even offer them marvelous sex.
The robots even save lives. The remote-controlled Defender line, has revolutionized warfare, by keeping human soldiers out of harm’s way.
The Domestic Helpers’ lifelike “secondskin” and programmed sociability have enabled them to fit right in with their human owners. And with their sophisticated, adaptable neuromorphic brains and meticulously engineered safeguards, they have proven benign and trusted.
But the human engineers who program them are neither benign nor trustworthy, as Patrick and Leah Jensen discover to their horror.
When they arrive in Phoenix for their new jobs, Patrick, a security consultant and former SEAL, and Leah, a lawyer, are at first delighted at the bargain price of the luxury co-op apartment, The Haven.
But after they move in, they discover the co-op is no haven, but a cadre of Helper robots that had been re-engineered to mimic wealthy humans, formerly their owners.
The robots had taken residence after being reprogrammed to murder their owners. And the Russian mobsters behind the plot directed the robot mimics to systematically loot the victims' estates of billions of dollars.
But neither the corrupt engineers nor the greedy thugs realize what catastrophe they have wrought in programming autonomous abilities into the robots.
They have unwittingly created a new race of networked "hive-minded" sentient creatures with a relentless survival instinct: the Neuromorphs.
Patrick must enlist his team of SEALs to marshal their combat skills and futuristic firepower to thwart the seemingly unstoppable evolution of a new dominant species on the planet.
What the experts are saying about the future of artificial intelligence
We think robotics is the killer app for neuromorphic computing. — Todd Hylton, Science magazine, October 10, 2014
The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded. Stephen Hawking, BBC
With machine learning, the engineer never knows precisely how the computer accomplishes its tasks. The neural network’s operations are largely opaque and inscrutable. It is, in other words, a black box. And as these black boxes assume responsibility for more and more of our daily digital tasks, they are not only going to change our relationship with technology—they are going to change how we think about ourselves, our world, and our place within it. – Jason Tanz, Wired magazine, June 2016
AI is a fundamental risk to the future of human civilization in a way that car accidents, airplane crashes, faulty drugs or bad food were not. They were harmful to a set of individuals in society, but they were not harmful to individuals as a whole - Elon Musk, Washington Post, July 16, 2017
The US Review of Books, says
This story takes off from the very first pages and doesn’t let up … In the spirit of Asimov’s I Robot and Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Meredith’s fiction serves to examine the ethics and implications of technology while also telling a good story.