In the not-so-distant future, robots are prominent. Most of the cars drive themselves, domestic robots that help around the house are commonplace, and our wars are more frequently fought by robots.
All is fine until the artificial intelligence (AI) Archos R-14 becomes self-aware, and starts to infect every connected device around the globe, from smart elevators in Japan to airplanes in the sky above Paris, and autonomous land mines in military warehouses across America. Archos’ grand plan? The elimination of human civilization, and the birth of a new ecology where the organic is being merged with robot technology. And when Archos starts his attack, it gets very ugly, very quickly.
“Robopocalypse” is written much in the same way as Max Brooks’ 2006 novel “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War“, a book I read a few years ago, but never got around to review. They are both a smorgasbord of short stories set in a world facing destruction by a seemingly unstoppable force – runaway AI and zombies, respectively.
What makes “Robopocalypse” different from “World War Z” is the plausibility of the evil protagonist. Fast running zombies might be scary, but not very likely. Artificial intelligence gone wrong, on the other hand, is not only believable, but a possible future scenario that some of the brightest minds of our time have publicly warned about. I don’t know much about AI, but I’m well aware on what level we’re already dependent on smart and connected computer and information systems today, and that level of dependency will only increase over time.
The doomsday scenario described in “Robopocalypse” isn’t just science fiction, it’s something that might actually happen, even in my lifetime. And that’s one of the things that makes this book great. Wilson’s writing is easy on the brain, and it doesn’t take much effort to get lost in the action. “Robocalypse” is easy to pick up, and hard to put down.
When reading “Robopocalypse”, it’s obvious that the novel needs a movie adaption. Stephen Spielberg was signed to direct a movie based on the book, but in 2013 he announced that the project was put on hold indefinitely. Best not hold your breath, then.
When you’ve finished reading “Robopocalypse”, another book by Wilson, “Robogenesis“, might be of interest. If I’ve got my information correct, it’s supposed to be a sequel to “Robopocalypse”. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list.