Andy, her crush of the last five years. Once Andy is ready to settle
down, she’s sure he will discover that she is his soulmate. After
several small parts on stage, Rebecca knows she can become a renowned
actress. Her writing also shows promise as a future author. Robots
perform most human jobs that can be automated, leaving many free to
pursue their personal creative interests.
brilliant daughter join a university research team, studying the
hazards of a complete robotic economy. Rebecca’s father Quentin was
obsessed with the subject to a degree that even her mother considered
absurd, prior to his untimely death. So long as she can reserve
enough of her time to pursue her true passions on the side, Rebecca
half-heartedly agrees to join the research team, if only to please
her widowed mother. There she joins a post-doc named Liam, whose
conspiracy theories rival even those of her late father. Liam is
convinced that world Republic leader William Halpert’s worldwide
challenge for researchers to develop synthetic creativity will lead
not to the promised utopia, in which every kind of human suffering
has been eradicated, but rather to an apocalypse. Rebecca, whose best
friend is her own companion bot Madeline, writes Liam off as a
bot-hating conspiracy theorist, just like her father was… until she
learns that her father’s death might not have been due to mere
The Renegades, where Quentin Cordeaux was considered a legend. While
Liam attempts to stop Halpert’s challenge if he can, Rebecca tries
to unravel the mystery of what happened to her father. Did he and
many of his contemporaries die for something they knew? Who is the
mysterious informant who calls himself John Doe, and only seems to
want to drive her out of harm’s way? And if Halpert’s challenge
is answered, will it usher in a brave new chapter in humanity’s
history… or were Quentin Cordeaux’s dire predictions right all along?
Excerpt from Uncanny Valley:
Everyone was there—all five-hundred and fifty-four residents of Casa Linda, the rural suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. Babies cried while mothers shushed; children who didn’t know any better chased each other on the artificial grass turf of the park. All of the adults stood in stony silence, resentful of the man whose image was shortly to appear.
“I dunno why we’re all so upset,” muttered Roy Benson to no one in particular. “Not like he can take anything else away from us at this point, can he?” Benson wore a white wife beater that gaped open over his protruding belly, like he always did ever since he’d lost his job as a labyrinth connection consultant.
“I think we’re all just holding our breath, for fear he might come up with something else to take away—‘for our own good,’ of course,” replied Lyle Hopper, seated on a folding chair below him. Hopper, once a good looking and vigorous businessman, was now missing a few teeth. He also breathed heavily, as if the exertion of conversation was too much for him. “Although frankly I’m not sure killing me would be much worse than stealing my business.”
“That’s what I’m saying,” Benson replied. “We’re useless, we have no purpose, and we’re subsisting on the damn charity of a bunch of bots and the elite few like Halpert. How much worse—”
William Halpert’s holographic projection interrupted Benson, appearing on the amphitheater stage of the little park. He was surprisingly short, only about five foot four, though the politician was a giant in other respects. He grinned in magnanimous greeting, spreading wide his hands to encompass everyone who had gathered before both this stage and every other in the world. They all knew that his words would be simultaneously translated into every language across the globe. Mothers hissed at their scampering children to quiet down so that everyone could hear.
“Friends,” Halpert said, “thank you for gathering here today as one global community. I know you are all busy with your active lives—”
Benson snorted and Hopper gave a derisive laugh. “Sure, I’m so busy I ran out of crossword puzzles this morning,” muttered Hopper.
“—so I will get right to the point. I gathered this global community together to make a very special announcement.
“As you all know, twenty years ago the Council of Synthetic Reason determined that in order to protect humanity, all bots must be limited by two rules: they must serve only a single core purpose in the service of humanity, and they must be readily identifiable as bots.
“The advancement of bots since then has changed the face of our world. It’s changed the way we do business.”
“Or don’t do business,” muttered Benson.
“But we have come upon a significant limitation which those of us in the Capital have been working on for years. It is this: while the bots are excellent at learning facts and applying information, and can do so faster and more accurately than the most intelligent human, they lack the critical ingredient of creativity which would allow them to apply the information they know—within their core purpose, of course. For that, we still require humans, and an inevitable disconnect occurs between the bots as they transfer their wealth of knowledge, and the humans who are expected to utilize it for new breakthroughs.
“Now I come to the reason why I have gathered you together today. The major tech companies and universities of the globe have all agreed that creativity requires emotion. It is impossible to have one without the other. The problem is twofold, however: we barely understand the natures of human emotion and creativity, let alone how to translate them both into circuits and program our bots with such abilities.
“But I believe, and I know you all do too, that the group mind is vastly superior to that of any one individual. Therefore, in an act of stunning generosity, these great companies and universities have all agreed to open source their research thus far. This means everything the human race has ever amassed in the neuroscience of human emotion and creativity, as well as all advances toward algorithms to encode the same, will now be freely available via the labyrinth in the hopes that universal access will yield much quicker results.
“This is a big task. I’m asking us to come together and find the answer to a question that has perplexed philosophers for millenia: what is it that makes us human? But in a world where knowledge doubles every six hours, I believe we are up to the task.
“Thank you very much for your time and attention. I will personally update you of any breaking news in this field. I wish you all a very good morning, good day, or good evening—whatever time it is where you are!”
Halpert’s image vanished from the stage.
As the people began to disperse, one woman in her fifties stood alone, frowning at the now-empty amphitheater. She tapped her temple to access the Artificial Experience chip implanted there.
“Call Rebecca,” she said, fishing her AE goggles out of her purse and putting them on. She saw a few of the townspeople shoot her dirty looks, but she ignored them. To a person, they disapproved of any flashy show of the technology which had so changed the face of their world.
A few minutes later, she was in her twenty-one year old daughter’s dormitory room in Dublin. The room was dark, until Rebecca sat up and flipped on the light.
“Mom! Really?” she looked at the analog clock hanging on her wall, which she had found at an antique store. Her auburn hair stuck up in every direction, and she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. “Do you know what time it is here?”
“Why weren’t you up watching Halpert’s address?”
“Because it’s four am, and I was performing last night, and then I was at the cast party until like midnight! I’ll find out what he said soon enough—”
“How close are your experiments to finding the source of human emotion?” her mother cut her off.
Rebecca blinked. “What? Not close at all, why?”
“Get on the labyrinth and watch the replay of Halpert’s address and call me back. You might want to put your musical theater and novelist careers on hold. Turns out your senior thesis is now the hottest topic in the world.”
day, she’s learned that Senate Leader Halpert and his Board of
Advisors are actually illegal humanoid robots created underground
twenty years ago—and they tried to have her killed. Her mother
Karen, whom she always believed to be passionately against the cause
of the Renegades, turns out to be their leader. And Liam, a man she
never thought she cared for, is now fighting for his life—and she
finds that she cares desperately.
patiently built an underground compound in an abandoned part of the
Americas where they can regroup and plan for the coming war. The
compound becomes an unlikely oasis as their number grows, both on
accident and on purpose. In attempting to recover her best friend and
companion bot Madeline, Rebecca gets what she thought she’d always
wanted: Andy arrives at the compound too, along with her friends Jake
and Julie. But with the sudden addition of an old flame from Liam’s
past, Rebecca discovers just how little acquainted she has been with
her own heart.
want nothing more than to wipe out every shred of resistance, while
pursuing their ultimate goal of robotic superintelligence. With the
assistance of a neuroscientist who helped to build the Silver Six
decades ago, Rebecca attempts to understand how synthetic minds work,
hoping this information can be used against them. She’s sure that
the mysterious, brilliant, and beautiful Alessandra Russo is the key
somehow, but Alex’s hatred for the Silver Six is only matched by
her hatred for the Renegades. Can the Renegades find and exploit the
weakness of the Silver Six before synthetic intelligence passes the
point of no return?
killing several of Rebecca’s best friends in the process—and to
her horror, the boy Rebecca had convinced herself she loved for all
these years was the one to betray them all. At the same time, General
Specs, the company Liam was once slated to inherit, has developed a
superintelligent robot called Jaguar which is quickly becoming
godlike in her omniscience. As the remaining Renegades flee to their
last bastion of safety in the Caribbean, Liam makes his way back to
London, in a last ditch effort to convince his father to destroy
Jaguar before it’s too late.
He was merely a ‘safe’ choice who would never require anything of
her. Liam, on the other hand, exasperating as he was, had seen past
her defenses. All of his teasing and provoking had been his attempt
to get her to be real with him—but the more he made her feel, the
further she had retreated. She had even substituted her companion bot
Madeline for real, deep human friendships, and for the same reason:
she’d been avoiding love to protect herself from another loss like
the one she had experienced when her father was killed for the
Renegades’ cause. Ironically, she only realizes this once Liam is
on his way to a similar fate. But she’ll be damned if she lets him
go without a fight.
world not too far off from our own, in which superintelligence is a
reality, humanoid bots have supplanted human power and influence, and
there are eyes watching and reporting our every move. If humanity is
to survive, the Renegades will have to galvanize support across the
globe, under the radar—and it will require every last bit of
ingenuity they possess. But is attempting to outwit a
superintelligent being really the answer? Or will it require
something much more fundamentally human?
PIERCING THE VEIL (magic and quantum physics meet Arthurian legends),
THE LIBERTY BOX (dystopian metaphysics and mind control technology),
and UNCANNY VALLEY (dystopian coming-of-age with neuroscience and
super intelligent A.I). She starts with some scientific concept that
she’s interested in learning more about herself, and then creates
lots of epic chaos and high-stakes action to go along with it. Her
stories are free of gratuitous violence, language, and sexual
content, and she abhors depressing endings… but they’re not all
kittens and rainbows either! She also listens to and reviews
audiobooks on her website, here on Goodreads, on Instagram, and on
her podcast, Clean Audiobook Reviews, where she also
occasionally interviews other authors.
medical non-fiction under her maiden name (Dr. Lauren Deville). She
lives in Tucson, AZ with her husband Frank, and together they
maintain an occasionally contentious film review blog (under her real
name: Lauren Baden. Three names. Yes.) She’s kind of the queen of
multitasking—so in her spare time, she creates whatever meals or
crafts she found most recently on Pinterest, drinks lots of coffee
(Aeropress btw) and occasional wine (reds—and she saves the corks
for craft projects), works out (while listening to audiobooks), and
studies the Bible—about half of the podcasts on Christian Natural
Health are scripture meditations.
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