Technology has always provided a rich seam of possibilities to be mined by authors. In this book Joanna Kavenna imagines a dystopian future in which an AI company is running things.
I have to say at this juncture that I haven’t read this book, only a review of it. (Hopefully, I will be able to rectify that.) But I thought I’d bring it to your attention because it sounds like a good starting point for a discussion with students. What strikes me about the premise, though, is that much of our society is already run on algorithms, and it isn’t bias-free by any means. (See my reviews of Weapons of Math Destruction and Technically Wrong.) Fortunately, though, it’s not (yet) all in the control of one company.
From reading the review it sounds like there are elements of 1984 — people keeping their expressions blank to avoid raising suspicion or attention. I was reading recently that in China students’ expressions are scrutinised to determine whether or not they are paying attention. What a shame that current research appears to show that expressions don’t necessarily reveal emotions.
Anyway, in this fictional scenario, the AI predicts whether you will commit a crime in the near future, and arrests you before you do so: shades of Minority Report?
The reviewer thought that this is implausible because people would resist it. The trouble is, bad things are done incrementally. I can imagine a future in which habitual criminals are picked up before they commit their next crime: if enough people were glad to see the back of them, I shouldn’t think there would be much resistance at all.
If you fancy giving this book a whirl, here’s the link to it on Amazon, via an affiliate link: Zed.