A Thriller which Predicted Siri two years in advance down to its Every Function and Detail
You may not know Mr. Santiago Roncagliolo from your local Barnes & Noble store. He is the Alfaguara Award Recipient -one of the most important literary awards for Spanish Literature- for his book 'Red April' a police thriller which describes guerrilla terrorism in his South American country Peru. This book not only is a frantic page turner, but some chapters are so real I couldn't read them close to sleep time. I had a chance to meet him and I think is one of the best writers living today. His work is translated into six languages.
This as a basic introduction to what this post is about.
In 2009 Mr. Roncagliolo launched his next book 'So Close to Life' a title name that stroke me as odd, almost like a self-development romantic title. far from it. Set in Tokyo, the book narrates a depressive corporate executive who is dealing with corporate restructuring, a serious case of inadequacy, jet lag and existential issues during his Company's launch of a major technological product.
During the week-long conference in Japan, with all its local places, customs and even japanese management styles the protagonist is aided by his smartphone, a life companion, a slim metal slab of which you ask in natural language to guide you to a nearby restaurant, tell you the weather, remind you of certain appointment when you arrive at an specific place or dispatch an email which you dictate and reply wittingly to your frustrations. The responses are intelligent, with a touch of caring. There is more, but I will not give away anymore about this so you can enjoy it by yourself.
What makes the book so unique you may ask? Well the first item is that of course the technology described in the book is what today is Apple's Siri with the exception that this book was written in 2008 and launched in 2009. The second thing is that Mr. Roncagliolo is very detailed in all his characters and depictions and is right on this AI technology; yet he has no relationship with Sillicon Valley -he comes from the literary world- and lives in Spain nowadays.
When Siri made its debut, during the iPhone 5 keynote I got chills in my spine as if I was seeing the re-enactment of this technology which I have read a full two years before almost like an owners manual. Of course the book is much more than a Siri prophecy, but I fully recommend its reading as a manifesto of the crossroads between humanity and technology, and the future of Artificial Intelligence.
The book is available in e book format from Amazon.
Hope you enjoy it. And if so, please drop a comment.