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   Isaac Project, by Joe Vadalma  
 
  Novel, first publication in October 2004
 
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       Additional Information  
     
      The Isaac Project is about the creation of a humanoid robot.The emphasis is on the possible impact in the near future of artificial intelligence on our society and the philosophical and political issues associated with the creation of a mechanical intelligence in the form of a human being. It attempts to handle in a realistic manner the research and development aspect of such a project with
    believable characters.

    The major characters are: GERI CHRANOWSKI, a strong-willed robotics expert and ambitious woman whose drive to climb the corporate ladder makes enemies of her underlings and ruins her love life. JACK WESTCOTT, a scientist once brilliant in the field of artificial intelligence, is losing his edge due to alcoholism and womanizing. His fight to keep his young mistress and his passionate pacifism endanger the project. FREDERICK WOLFGANG is a petty tyrant and bigot, whose software expertise is
    essential to the project completion.He causes a major
    disaster because of his egoism and prejudices. Other characters include: ELIZABETH WOLFGANG, psychologist and browbeaten wife of Frederick, whose empathetic personality, although marred by her low self-esteem, teaches the robot about humanity, and JANE HOLLAND, knowledge engineer, whose career is being stunted
    by discrimination in the workplace and troubles at home. And then of course, there is ISAAC, their creation, childlike and super intelligent, who begins to have a mind of its own.

    The novel begins when SAM, a night watchman of a
    robotics firm, finds a scientist dead at his computer. As he examines the body, ISAAC approaches him. He panics, shoots the machine through the heart and flees.
    Flashback two years. A marketing manager at TURC, a
    large robotics corporation, asks GERI CHRANOWSKI whether a
    humanoid robot could be built as a PR gimmick. When she
    tells him that what he wants is feasible, wheels are set in
    motion to accomplish that end. She sets up a conference to
    explain the project. JACK WESTCOTT, an artificial
    intelligence expert in trouble sees TURC's plans to build a
    humanoid robot as an opportunity to continue his research.
    Other personnel join the project; ROBERT WHITE, an
    African-American natural language expert; MATSU NAKASHIMA,
    miniaturization engineer; B. J. BRADLEY, an expert on
    visualization technology; MARIA RODRIGUEZ, beautiful
    researcher in electronic speech; BORIS GOLDSTEIN, aging
    Nobel prize winning mathematician; SOL FLEISCHMAN, software
    signer; the WOLFGANGs, unhappily married scientists; BRAD
    SMITH, egotistical systems expert; JANE HOLLAND, knowledge
    engineer; JIMMY DRACONIAN, hacker, computer nerd and expert
    software troubleshooter; SUSAN HOWARD, flirty, sexy, speech
    recognition expert.
    When the Shinto Corporation of Japan announces its
    Fifth Generation thinking machine, the president of the
    United States proclaims an artificial intelligence race with vast resources at the disposal of the project.
    GERI challenges the scientists to fit a powerful
    computer inside the robot's tiny brain cavity. Meanwhile,
    the software team start off on the wrong foot when the
    bigoted WOLFGANG objects to a woman team leader and scoffs
    at the possibility that the robot will ever achieve the
    intelligence of a human being. Pproblems escalate as the
    human foibles interfere. LAURA GRANT, uses a computer virus
    as a weapon of revenge. WESTCOTT quarrels with MAJOR
    BACHMAN, the Department of Defense rep, about safeguards
    built into the device and defies the army man's orders.
    WOLFGANG abuses his wife because FLEISHMAN helps her learn
    how to use her computer. JANE HOLLAND's efficiency suffers
    when her husband asks for a divorce. JAMES DRACONIAN and
    SUSAN HOLLAND date.
    The software group designs a simulation of the
    robot's mind similar to Max Headroom. Since WOLFGANG insists that no software could be intelligent enough to fool him, he volunteers in a test known in Artificial Intelligence circles as a Turing test. In a Turing test, a person communicates via a computer with either a person or an artificial intelligent machine and must decide by the
    replies he receives to his questions which it is. When
    WOLFGANG cannot determine whether a human or the simulacrum
    was on the other end of the wire, he complains to the
    project head that the test was unfairly administered.
    When the software is installed in the robot's body,
    ELIZABETH WOLFGANG is put in charge of the robot's education and treats it as her child. TURC announces the ISAAC's completion to the world, but the robot that they introduce at a news conference has not completed its testing. This brings us back to the time of the first
    chapter. The dead man is WOLFGANG, who commits suicide
    because he is despondent at being outwitted by a computer.
    There is a great scandal. The sensational press accuses the
    robot of committing murder and TURC of covering it up. As a
    result of picketing and rioting, there is a congressional
    investigation. Certain congressmen, who want humanoid robots for the military, learn about built-in safeguards that would make it useless for this purpose. They threaten withdrawal of government funding. Bachman halts production of further robots until the robot is given the ability to kill human beings. This angers WESTCOTT who with Elizabeth's connivance kidnap the robot.
    TURC goes bankrupt and the project is abandoned.

    Synopsis provided by the author.

     
     
      Related theme(s)  
     
     
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) - Thinking Machines
  • Gone Missing - Abductions - Kidnapping - Hostages
  • High Tech
  • Robots - Androids - Cyborgs
  • Romance - Love Story

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