Finding the soul in the machine

Lifestyle

Finding the soul in the machine

Kazuo Ishiguro tells a story set in a futuristic world filled with strangeness and yet eerily similar to our own

Monique Verduyn

“If AI can help us as a society to not only save the environment, cure disease and explore the universe, but also better understand ourselves — well, that may prove one of the greatest discoveries of them all.” So said Demis Hassabis, co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, a company that deems artificial intelligence to be one of humanity’s most useful inventions and is aiming to build advanced AI to expand our knowledge.

AI is an extremely hot topic now and not just in the world of high tech. It’s a subject that has fascinated several writers recently, resulting in works such as Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson and Machines Like Us by Ian McEwan. Winterson, of course, paid homage to Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic, with a book that’s about the non-sentimentality of AI, but also about love and desire and the possibilities of transformation.

In his eighth novel, Klara and the Sun, Nobel prize winning author Kazuo Ishiguro explores what it means to be not quite human. The themes recall the dystopian subject matter of Never Let Me Go, in which the protagonists were bred to have their body parts harvested for the sick but privileged...

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