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Showing posts from August, 2019

Questions of Consent

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Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked Autonomous. I thought Newitz’s vision of a future world with drug patent hoarding corporations and pirates willing to defy them scarily realistic. I also thoroughly enjoyed the embedded discussion of capitalism’s overreach of claiming human biological data, and the implicit criticism of how corporations gone wild will violently assert themselves to defend what they have appropriated. Newitz’s vision of information technology, an area of expertise for me, is also well-informed, and the robotic characters—whose assertion of constructed independent conscious will is a key focus in the story—are clever and subversive.

We see this patent gold rush in real life already, both in information technology, nanotech, and pharmaceuticals. Newitz pushes the phenomenon forward and hypothesizes an evolution of the same kind of white hat hacker that performs the vital service of keeping the Internet usable for the rest of us. These IP…