Machines Like Me

Machines Like Me

And People Like You

Book - 2019 | First United States edition.
Average Rating:
Rate this:
14
1
"Machines Like Me occurs in an alternative 1980s London. 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. 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 against the power to invent things beyond our control"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, [2019]
Edition: First United States edition.
ISBN: 9780385545112
0385545118
Branch Call Number: FIC MCE
Characteristics: 333 pages ; 22 cm

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment
e
evanbrow
Jan 16, 2020

If you allow yourself to accept an alternate history whereby Alan Turing is still alive and ushered in an unprecedented age of advanced AI (which is questionable considering how strongly this story relies on Great Man Theory), you just might find a good read. This novel excels in its exploration of how Adam (a lifelike AI cyborg) is "born," grows up, loves, and attempts to find a place in an existence it did not ask for, but must learn to accept. It is an erudite novel, often involving characters discussing academic understandings of life, war, politics, love, and justice. I enjoyed that, but can understand how the preachy aspects of the novel can turn someone off. The novel stumbles with an unnecessary rape sub-plot, and unfortunately portrays a woman lying about rape (despite how justified that action is portrayed). An interesting read, but not much more than that.

s
Suelogeman
Nov 30, 2019

I liked the concept of human machines and the issues and problems that were dealt with from the owners perspective and the robots but at the same time was bored by the rambling of the author's need to emphasize how intelligent the robot was. The depth of the intelligence of the robot took away from the story line.

r
ronandlynda
Nov 19, 2019

Named one of Chatelaine magazine's Buzziest Books of 2019

m
MaryJoSchifsky
Sep 02, 2019

Recc by Pat D Aug 2019

w
Wilddonkey
Aug 25, 2019

The premise of Machines Like Me is that Alan Turing, one of the brilliant founders of theoretical computer science, did not commit suicide in 1954, but lived on into the London of the 1980s, the setting for the novel. The effect, as McEwan imagines it, is that computing progresses rapidly and jumped years ahead. Thus, the novel is set in a world where computing is as it will be in the midst of Ray Kurzweil’s predicted “singularity,” the point where artificially intelligent technology exceeds the human capacity for understanding and control.
I must confess that I am somewhat skeptical of the singularity concept, which has colored my appreciation of McEwan’s book. I’ll only say that projections into the future are often right in some details, but seldom work out as predicted. Something unexpected always completely changes the outcome. The industrial revolution improved human lives drastically but appears to be reaching its limit with climate change, unlike the utopias and dystopias imagined in the 20th century based on projecting the social implications of industrialization. The digital revolution likely has its own self-generated limits, but we won’t know what they are until they become so obvious, we will be forced to quit ignoring them.
My own optimistic projection for the future is that with machine enhanced capabilities, humans will always have the upper hand over technology and never reach the point predicted by the singularity enthusiasts.
With that off my chest, Machines Like Me has a challenging premise, relatable characters, clear language, and an entertaining plot driven by a robot that is close to mentally and physically indistinguishable from a living human. The robot becomes a vertex in a love triangle with two humans and a player in an ambiguous rape trial.
I read the book with pleasure. The continual mental debate I held with the author on the plausibility of his alternate history added to the entertainment. The moral ambiguities were stimulating. The computer science is a bit shaky for a software engineer to enjoy, but plausible enough. Just don’t take the discussion of NP complete problems too seriously. The book is not a stirring adventure or romance, but it is an entertaining and provocative story for someone fretting about the future.

2
2303tes
Aug 03, 2019

Didn't like the characters and too much about British politics.
The robot was the most interesting.

e
EdmundoAB
Jul 05, 2019

Enjoyed reading this book. It is about science fiction with a social angle. Well researched and up to date. The narrative reads like the daily world news. The moral aspect is highlighted for decisions currently facing humanity. I will read other books by the author.

d
DominiqueRossier
Jun 14, 2019

I loved this novel, as I have loved every text by McEwan that I have ever read, so I might be positively biased.
This novel is a modest page-turner. I obviously wanted to know what would happen to Charlie, Miranda and Adam. Yet the author knows how to make his readers understand that simply finding out what what will happen is only as important as (or less important than) thinking about various issues raised by the plot. There is, of course, the question of man vs. machine, but not only. A few other issues: what is ethic, what makes one guilty, what is love, what is forgiveness… So take your time when reading.
I really enjoyed the alternate history that forms the background for the story. Past meets Future + modified events + invented elements = a rich world to discover. Kinda like in the Thursday Next series.
Let me finish with two trivia:
- In various languages, including Turkish or Azerbaijani, the word "adam" means man. Even if McEwan was not aware of this, it's interesting given the topic of the novel
- The picture of Adam on the cover strongly reminds me of Matteo Bocelli (check out the video of "Fall on Me"). Again, this hints at the blurring between man and machine!

t
TripodSnowDog
Jun 07, 2019

Absolutely brilliant. It's one of the first books I've read in a long time where I would change absolutely nothing about it. I don't even have the words to begin to describe how much I adore this novel, from its characters and its tone down to the way it paints humanity as a race.

I didn't finish this either, but mainly because I didn't like the protagonist. I did appreciate the alternate history of the Falklands War and the fallout surrounding it, but I just kept comparing this to the series Humans

View All Comments

Quotes

Add a Quote
t
TripodSnowDog
Jun 04, 2019

It was religious yearning granted hope, it was the holy grail of science. Our ambitions ran high and low - for a creation myth made real, for a monstrous act of self-love.

Age

Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Recommendations

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at IndyPL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top