Book Review: Moral Code, by Lois & Ross Melbourne

About the book, Moral CodeMoral Code - cover

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Nonlinear Publishing, LLC (September 15, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 380 pages

Dr. Keira Stetson has two passions: ethical artificial intelligence—AI with a conscience—and creating technology that improves children’s lives. Trapped in an earthquake-flattened building with a half-dozen panicked five-year-olds, she fears the worst. When billionaire Roy Brandt leverages his mysterious nanite technology to rescue them, she’s both grateful and intrigued.

Impressed by his prototype technology but alarmed at its potential for exploitation, Keira merges her company with Brandt’s. The merger gives Keira access to much-needed funds for the development of her own tech, and access to Brandt’s powerful minuscule robots. In turn, she and her AI assistant, Elly, embed Keira’s trademark Moral Operating System in Brandt’s nanite SmartDust to rein in its power.

But Brandt’s technology has been kept secret for a reason. Though he’s adamant about using the Dust to improve life, not destroy it, corporate raiders and the military have other ideas. They want to weaponize Brandt’s nanites. Suddenly, everything Keira has worked for is in jeopardy. Exposed to the worst humanity has to offer, she and Elly must fight to use this newfound tech for good and keep it out of the wrong hands…before it’s too late.

For fans of “Catfishing on CatNet” and the “Murderbot Diaries,” “Moral Code” eloquently and excitedly explores how artificial intelligence can not only set moral boundaries — but also how they can revolutionize the future.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads


About the authors, Lois & Ross Melbourne Lois and Ross Melbourne

Moral Code” is not the first collaboration for Lois and Ross Melbourne. Side-by-side, they grew their software business to a global award-winning organization, as CEO and Chief Technology Officer, respectively. Now Lois’ storytelling brings to life Ross’ deep understanding of the possibilities within artificial intelligence and robotics. Parenting and marriage have been the easy part of this equation.

Lois is now writing books, having published two children’s books about exploring careers. “Moral Code” is her first but not her last novel. You can learn more about Lois at www.loismelbourne.com. Ross’ current work includes artificial intelligence and robotics. You can learn more about him at www.rossmelbourne.com. And for more about them and the book, you can visit, www.MoralCodeTheBook.com.

Connect with Lois and Ross

Twitter (Lois) | Twitter (Ross) | Instagram (Lois)


My ThoughtsMissMeliss

I confess: I have a thing for Artificial Intelligence. Whether it’s  Lt. Commander Data in the Star Trek franchise, William, the emotional holographic representation of the ship’s interface in Another Life, Isaac in The Orville, or the robots in Asimov’s work, I’m there for their development, equally happy whether they grow closer to humanity or remain distinct from it. When I was given the chance to review Moral Code, then, you better believe I jumped that the chance. And wow, I’m glad I did!

Moral Code is a novel that celebrates both women in STEM fields and the possibilities that come as artificial intelligence continues to be developed. We first meet Elly, a character in her own right, who is Keira’s virtual assistant. From the beginning, Elly shows signs of being more than the sum of her programming, and it’s fascinating to watch the story unold and see her creep ever closer to consciousness, while still being beholden to the “moral code” of the title – which is sort of an ethical subroutine, but one that can grow and one that is situational.

Then come the nanites. Created by Roy Brandt, these are deployed in a rescue mission after Keira is trapped by an earthquake, and while they are also a form of AI, unlike Elly, they don’t really have a personality or a name. Elly is an assistant; the nanites are tools, at least for now.

The relationship between Keira and Roy is also interesting to watch. Keira is a strong, self-possessed woman who is both creative and extremely knowledgeable. Roy has the arrogance that comes with money and success, but while he’s an antagonist to Keira at times, he’s never a villain. If anything, the villain in this story is human greed and corruption.

Lois and Ross Melbourne have crafted a well-paced story that balances humanity and AI, and feels plausible, if not right now, than in our near-future. From the smallest child in the class Keira visits to the various engineers at Brandt’s company, the characters all feel dimensional and real. My husband works in tech, and I have encountered many of the personalities depicted in this story. What I truly appreciated, though, was that there was never too much technobabble, and when things did get extremely technical, they were accompanied with explanations that less tech-savvy readers will understand, and – even better – nothing ever felt like there was too much exposition.

Bottom line: if you love real science in your science fiction, if you’re fond of artificial intelligence, and if you really want to see more strong female characters in STEM fields, this book is for you.

Goes well with: Dr. Pepper and nacho cheese Doritos, the unofficial snack of geeks everywhere.


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