Books

Machines Like Me

Machines Like Me is a novel by Ian McEwan.

Ian McEwan

In an alternative 1980s London, Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first batch of synthetic humans. With Miranda's assistance, he co-designs Adam's personality. This near-perfect human is beautiful, strong and clever – a love triangle soon forms. These three beings will confront a profound moral dilemma. Ian McEwan's subversive and entertaining new novel poses fundamental questions: what makes us human? Our outward deeds or our inner lives? Could a machine understand the human heart? This provocative and thrilling tale warns of the power to invent things beyond our control. (From Penguin Random House)​

From the book

It was religious yearning granted hope, it was the holy grail of science. Our ambitions ran high and low — for a creation myth made real, for a monstrous act of self-love. As soon as it was feasible, we had no choice but to follow our desires and hang the consequences. In loftiest terms, we aimed to escape our mortality, confront or even replace the Godhead with a perfect self. More practically, we intended to devise an improved, more modern version of ourselves and exult in the joy of invention, the thrill of mastery, In the autumn of the twentieth century, it came about at last, the first step towards fulfilment of an ancient dream, the beginning of the long lesson we would teach ourselves that however complicated we were, however faulty and difficult to describe in even our simplest actions and modes of being, we could be imitated and bettered. And I was there as a young man, an early and eager adopter in that chilly dawn.


From Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan ©2019. Published by Knopf.

Interviews with Ian McEwan

Can we own a consciousness? Can we buy and operate someone else's subjective experience? These themes of Ian McEwan's novel, Machines Like Me, force us to confront our relationship with technology and examine whether our human morality extends to AI being. 24:44
award winning author Ian McEwan talks about his latest novel Machines Like Me, and much else. 25:11