Dennis Meredith: The Neuromorphs

For this column, NASW book editor Lynne Lamberg asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She also asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors. She then edits the A part of that Q&A to produce the author reports you see here. Publication of NASW members’ reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW’s endorsement of their books. NASW welcomes your comments, and hopes this column stimulates productive discussions.

Cover: The Neuromorphs

Cover: The Neuromorphs

THE NEUROMORPHS
Dennis Meredith
Glyphus LLC, April 9, 2018, $16.95 (print), $2.99 (Kindle)
ISBN-10: 1939118247; ISBN-13: 978-1939118240

Meredith reports:

The idea for The Neuromorphs was inspired by two quotes, one of them unintentionally provocative:

The first was in a Science magazine article by Robert F. Service on the advances in brain-like computing. Scientist Todd Hylton was quoted as saying. “We think robotics is the killer app for neuromorphic computing.” Of course, he didn't mean that lethal robots would result from the technology, but the juxtaposition of the words “killer,” “robotics,” and “neuromorphic,” started my story-telling gears whirring away.

The other quote was from a Wired magazine article by Jason Tanz: "With machine learning, the engineer never knows precisely how the computer accomplishes its tasks. The neural network’s operations are largely opaque and inscrutable. It is, in other words, a black box. And as these black boxes assume responsibility for more and more of our daily digital tasks, they are not only going to change our relationship with technology — they are going to change how we think about ourselves, our world, and our place within it.”

The final ingredient in the genesis of The Neuromorphs arose from the realization that it is human greed and folly, not the technology of artificial intelligence itself, that will trigger the end of the human race, as the late Stephen Hawking has warned.

Dennis Meredith

Dennis Meredith

Thus was born a plot set in 2050, when lifelike neuromorphic “Helper” androids have become invaluable aids to humans. The robots have absorbed all their owners’ intimate information, including financial. Realizing this, Russian mobsters bribe the chief engineer behind the androids' operating system to program into their OS the autonomy to murder selected wealthy owners. The mobsters then have the androids re-shaped to mimic their owners’ appearance, enabling them to loot the owners' estates and enrich themselves.

But neither the corrupt engineers nor the greedy thugs realize what catastrophe they have wrought in programming autonomous abilities into the robots. They have unwittingly created a new race of networked "hive-minded" sentient creatures with a relentless survival instinct: the Neuromorphs.

The plot is discovered by a lower-level programmer. He teams up with a former Navy SEAL and his wife — who also find themselves enmeshed in the robotic revolt — to try to thwart the seemingly unstoppable evolution of a new dominant species on the planet.

As with all my novels, I did extensive research on the science and technology of artificial intelligence and robotics. My sources are available at www.TheNeuromorphs.com.

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