Sunday, December 1, 2013

Amped, by Daniel H. Wilson (2012)

I've just become a Daniel Wilson fan!  This is a great read and addresses several important technology/bioethics issues.  Wilson has  Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon.  I assume that the science is pretty sound.  The story, of humans with neuro-implants that amplify their abilities (the Amps) has many interesting routes that readers can follow.  There is of course, the bioethics that are the focus of the story.  This is done well and will help us see a bit into the future.  I don't think we can quite "amp" humans the way Wilson portrays, but I expect it will be possible in the future.

A second theme relates to genocide/discrimination.  I can easily see this as a companion piece to any holocaust unit or study of other genocides.  (Those of you who know me are aware that I'm weary of the Anne Frank units that I read each semester.  I think it's time to expand our explorations of genocides and discrimination.

The secondary character, Lyle, is also a good study in the effects of power on a human.  Between Lyle and Senator Joseph Vaughn the exploration of what power does to our politicians and CEOs could lead to some fascinating discussions.  This theme in the book can also easily fit into studies of extremist groups and terrorism.  The government reactions to amps is well done and makes for a nice platform for exploring our current concerns about the Patriot Act and digital surveillance. 

Of course the science elements of this book could fit nicely in any study of scientific trends and issues.

Also, there may soon be a film connection to his other book Robopocalypse.  Robopocalypse was purchased by DreamWorks and is currently being adapted for film by Steven Spielberg.

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