A frustrating glimpse into a world through AI eyes
The thought of Artificial Intelligence babysitters or friends might be enough to frighten most parents but it is a recurring topic in films and books.
The movie After Yang, released this year, depicted a future in which children have artificial companions. The novel Klara And The Sun by literature Nobel prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, about a so-called artificial friend called Klara, has recently been gracing the bestseller lists.
Narrated from Klara’s point of view, the novel slowly uncovers the rules of a world that does not seem too distant from our own.
The reader first meets Klara when she is up for sale at a store and follows her into her new home as she becomes Josie’s artificial friend. Josie, a cheerful but sick teenager, lives with her mother, who has already lost a child to illness and is worried about this happening again.
There are very few humans in the novel, but one of them is Rick – Josie’s neighbour and close friend – who is struggling in a world where only the best are granted education. Most of the teenagers in the book are loners and the children need companions because they are homeschooled by tablets.
The theme, like in any good dystopian novel, centres around everyday lift and takes it to new, scary heights. However, unlike most science fiction novels, Ishiguro’s work remains strangely optimistic. Klara is a highly attentive and observational artificial friend and the lines are sometimes blurred between her being a robot and having real consciousness.
The writing is precise and minimalistic – just like an artificial friend trying to find its words, and this becomes even more poignant when talking about feelings. I found myself becoming more and more attached to Klara and Josie’s family.
The reader gets a glimpse into a world through an artificial friend’s eyes and even up to the very last pages the story reveals new elements that disrupts the way we, as humans, see the world.