If you're looking to delve into the intricacies of tech, artificial intelligence, and the effects of gender bias on our society, (and frankly, who isn't!) then books like "Machines Like Me" by Ian McEwan, "The Lifecycle of Software Objects" by Ted Chiang, and "Invisible Women" by Caroline Criado-Perez are all excellent ways to do that.
Each of these books tackles a different aspect of technology and society, but together they paint a fascinating picture of the challenges we face as humanity races on toward a world we actually don’t understand fully yet…
“Machines Like Me,” a novel by award-winning author Ian McEwan. Set in an alternate 1980s London, the story follows the lives of three individuals: Charlie, a young man who has just bought one of the first humanoid robots, Miranda, a neighbour whom Charlie is hopelessly in love with; and Adam, the robot who begins to blur the lines between machine and human. This emotional and thought-provoking novel raises important questions about what it means to be human and how our relationships with machines might change our understanding of ourselves. We were particularly drawn to the parallels between the novel and our recent Tilt Talk, ‘Will You Stroke Your Robot Dog?’ which you can watch now.
“The Lifecycle of Software Objects” by Ted Chiang, a novella that explores the development of artificial intelligence from the perspective of the beings who create and care for them. The story follows Ana and Derek, two programmers who create and raise digital creatures known as ‘digients’. As the digients develop and learn, Ana and Derek must grapple with the ethical implications of their creation and the challenges of raising digital beings and the fragility of living in an unreliable internet world. Chiang’s story is a fascinating look at the potential of artificial intelligence and the responsibilities that come with creating and caring for these new forms of life. At what point do we have ‘robot rights’ as well as ‘human rights’, or do they become one and the same? Yikes.
Last, but most definitely not least, there’s “Invisible Women” by Caroline Criado-Perez. It’s a non-fiction book that examines the gender bias that our society is, arguably, built on, particularly in relation to technology. Criado-Perez provides a tonne of data and research that shows how women in particular are often excluded from the development of new technologies, systems and procedures, leading to products and services that are designed with men in mind. From voice recognition that struggles to recognise women’s voices to medical equipment that fails to account for differences in women’s bodies. The many ways that gender bias affects our lives are uncovered and laid bare. Criado-Perez book is an important call to action for anyone interested in creating a more equitable and just society.
These three books all offer unique insights into the challenges and opportunities of our increasingly digital world…scrap that. We’re not just in an increasingly digital world, we’re IN IT now. It’s increased.
Whether it comes to issues facing our digital world like artificial intelligence, human relationships, or gender bias, these books provide plenty to consider. You might just come away with a new perspective on the world around you, and as citizens of this digital age, isn’t that our responsibility, nay, joy?
Interested in the impact Artificial Intelligence is having, and could have, on humanity? Watch our free films from the Tilt Talk ‘Will You Stroke Your Robot Dog?’ and learn more.