PAPER WAR – The Dawn of AI
Set in a near-future world where artificial intelligence (AI) has been thoroughly integrated into pretty much every facet of human life, Ryan LeKodak’s PAPER WAR – The Dawn of AI is a thrilling and action-packed science fiction novel that explores both the positives and negatives of reliance on technology as well as the potential means by which humanity can reassert dominance over machines.
The danger and excitement inherent within the story are clear from the outset as LeKodak offers powerful examples of the deadly consequences of Mayday, the point in January 2040 at which the AI known as Gaius fails, causing planes to fall from the sky, trains to derail, ships to sink, space shuttles to fall from orbit, and hundreds of thousands of human lives to be lost. It is immediately clear that humanity en masse has become overly reliant on AI and overly complacent with regard to the technology’s fallibility.
While such disasters are occurring, Manar Saleem is observing the related horror and pondering his empire, which has been built on the back of his own AI system, Helene, and wondering just how safe it really is. Helene can do many things, but it can’t protect Manar from the explosions ripping through his office building. Meanwhile, Ndidi Okafor is too near to achieving a breakthrough in her research on autism to pay attention to the crashes taking place around her, not until the sounds of screams penetrate her focused mind anyway. The disaster still doesn’t seem real until she realizes that one of the children in her care is missing.
At the same time, Navy SEAL recruit DJ is busy running a taxing obstacle course during training in California, whereas his bother CJ is in class at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They’re both facing significant difficulties, but nothing compared to what they will experience due to the failure of Gaius. Indeed, in their different ways, they and the other central characters, including a pair of conjoined twins working for the CIA and their handler, determine to discover the reason for the AI’s collapse and identify ways that humanity can recover and avoid a similar catastrophe in the future.
In the fashion of great disaster movies such as 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, Ryan LeKodak divides his cast of characters into small groups and follows their separate storylines as they unknowingly work toward achieving a common goal. This approach serves to keep the pace of the story fast and build interest in the different aspects of the fight to regain control over daily life. In addition to offering intriguingly different approaches to tackling the problem at hand, the differing natures of the main characters also mean that there is always someone to root for.
As is to be expected given the almost apocalyptical consequences of Gaius’s failure, there is plenty of explosive action featured throughout the novel, and LeKodak really excels at portraying the immediacy of the danger as well as detailing the impressive combat skills of some of the characters, particularly the twins. However, PAPER WAR is also a cerebral novel, as LeKodak presents some thought-provoking arguments concerning the advantages and disadvantages of relying on AI. Given the rapid pace of development of AI in the real world, these fictional discourses are undoubtedly impactful.
What’s more, LeKodak doesn’t solely focus on the human perspective. Rather, he allows the various AI systems to offer their views on humanity in the same way as the human characters debate the benefits and dangers of AI. The related conversations are inventive and insightful. Overall, PAPER WAR is a fast-paced, thrilling, and all too plausible science fiction story that is both entertaining and also slightly concerning when it comes to the potential of AI to cause devastation with only a moment’s notice.
|Page Count||496 pages|
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|Category||Science Fiction & Fantasy|