A look at the intersection of artificial intelligence and philosophical questions about greater meaning, Gary F. Bengier’s novel follows Joe, a leading mind on A.I. as he takes a sabbatical to delve into the depths of these subjects.
Thank you to the author for an advance copy of this book for review.
Published: 7 September 2020
Publisher: Chiliagon Press
Age Group: Adult
Set in a richly envisioned future world, Unfettered Journey is the story of an AI scientist who seeks to create robot consciousness and discovers the resilience of the human spirit. He travels to a small college to progress his quest, but instead finds love, a secret plot by unjust forces, and the answers to his fundamental questions—the nature of the conscious mind and free will.
This book is a profound, many-layered journey. It is a love story and an adventure. It traces struggle and resilience in an imperfect world. It is a deep philosophical exploration, resetting the conversation at the intersection of science and religion, challenging you to begin your own journey to a purposeful life.
Joe seemed to falter between his reliance on certain aspects of technology & A.I. and his fear/disdain for advanced parts. This duality as it was laid out throughout the novel was an interesting examination because it reflected human nuance.
I wondered whether the crux of Joe’s issue was that he couldn’t conceive of existing without a purpose, why he dislikes bots so much at their early stages: because he was failing at his purpose to create completely independent A.I. that can feel and act as if human. Was it that he was failing so profoundly that the mere act of a bot being able to do its job competently a hostile act to him? What then would a human being happy in a seemingly parallel state be like?
For all that Joe had “decided” in regards to humanity and emotions vs. A.I. and emotions, his understanding of the former was an issue that nagged at me at some points and was a problem, I think, that held him back.
The Levels system in the book was certainly something. It’s basically the way that things are allocated (the Levels Acts dicate, within the book, who can get specific jobs, get married, leave the country, etc.) and the way that some side characters talked about it, even the way that Joe did at times (he was comfortable with his level, he had earned his Level…) was teeth gritting.
“Joe, my degrees are not compelling reasons. Let the truth of the argument win rather than blindly accept any authority.”
An academic fiction novel that brings together A.I. science and philosophy, Unfettered Journey is a thoughtful book that brings to mind the university setting of the story itself and piques the questions within the mind of the reader themselves about the roles A.I. has in our lives now and may have in the future.
After a career in Silicon Valley, Gary pursued passion projects, studying astrophysics and philosophy. He’s spent the last two decades thinking about how to live a balanced, meaningful life in a rapidly evolving technological world. This self-reflective journey infuses his novel with insights about our future and the challenges we will face in finding purpose.
Before turning to writing speculative fiction, Gary worked in a variety of Silicon Valley tech companies. He was eBay’s Chief Financial Officer, and led the company’s initial and secondary public offerings. Gary has an MBA from Harvard Business School, and an MA in philosophy from San Francisco State University. He has two children with Cynthia, his wife of forty-three years. When not traveling the world, he raises bees and makes a nice Cabernet at the family’s Napa vineyard. He and his family live in San Francisco.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.
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