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Happiness for Humans Hardcover – 4 Jan 2018
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So funny, clever and timely. I loved it. (Martha Kearney)
Very clever and great fun (Kate Eberlen, bestselling author of Miss You)
It's refreshing to read such a positive, funny and warm story about the potential of artificial intelligence. These computer programs don't want to destroy humanity, they want to watch soppy films and help people fall in love. This is Jane Austen's Emma for the digital era. (Keith Stuart, bestselling author of A Boy Made of Blocks)
You'll love this quirky, brilliantly funny love story... If you use Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant, prepare to have your heart warmed - and be a little bit scared! (Fabulous)
A smart, warm fiction and the ultimate curl-up read... the most charming book I've read in ages (Image)
A sweet romantic comedy that asks what it really means to be happy (and also takes a gentle look at the scary idea of technology taking over our lives) (Stylist)
Bridget Jones' diary for the digital age (Daily Record)
This screwball comedy is touching and hilarious (Sunday Mirror)
One of the most uplifting and romantic novels I've read in a long time (Sarra Manning Red magazine)
Humans meets The Rosie Project . . . A real smiler of a book (Nina Pottell Prima)
Joyful, witty and laugh-out-loud funny, this is a novel for anyone who loved THE ROSIE PROJECT and SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE.See all Product description
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The book is well written and funny. Beyond that, I think in a frothy, rom com kind of way, it does have something serious to say about what it is to be human, or a human-like machine. Various characters look at the subject from different angles. There is the question of empathy, for example, and whether this quality differentiates machines from humans. An AI called Aiden shows a high degree of empathy, aware of others as well as himself. Aiden is a lovely, human-seeming character, who enjoys watching classic romantic comedies, particularly Some Like It Hot. He interacts in a warm manner with a magazine journalist called Jen. In contrast there is Matt, Jen’s lawyer boyfriend, who is human, but acts like a cold hearted machine because he lacks empathy. The good kicking that Aiden gives Matt by crashing his life via the internet is one of the most rewarding and funny aspects of the book.
Matt’s personality is mirrored in the world of artificial intelligence by a deeply unpleasant AI called Sinai. Sinai is an actual cold hearted machine. Like Matt, he is self-aware, but has no meaningful awareness of others. He doesn’t care about romantic comedy. The only romance he has is with a copy of himself.
The book also looks at the idea of life from the angle of whether it’s a matter of “doing or being”, for want of a better description. This conundrum is explored via Aiden, who, as a super intelligent AI capable of reading War and Peace in one second, is very much a doer. Nevertheless, he is perceptive enough to see that life might also involve simply existing. In contrast to high functioning machines, we meet a pet rabbit called Victor. Victor definitely takes the being rather than doing approach to life. There is a similar creature who happens to be a student at the University of Bournemouth, allegedly doing media studies.
A novel is a good place to explore both empathy and the conundrum of doing and being. To read a novel is to exercise your empathy muscles. The experience demands that you see and feel from the perspective of someone else. As far as the doing and being thing is concerned, which of those two things is reading a novel? People read novels to relax. They also work hard at reading them in universities. Students - some of them at least - busily discuss deeper meanings and write essays.
Novels like Happiness for Humans remind me how useful novels are in exploring life - as opposed to some cold hearted academic study. Who said romantic comedy couldn’t be serious
It is the story of highly developed Artificial Intelligence computers attempting to make their human companions happy by finding them love.
Initially the computers which, officially at least, have no emotions set up dates which work statistically but, hilariously, lack any chemistry whatsoever. Part of the problem is that while an AI understands statistics and knows the entire content of the British Library it has no comprehension of class differences or kisses or sex and doesn’t know about the smell of rain or the taste and texture of cheese.
As the plot and characters develop so do the AIs' understanding of human emotions leading to a thrilling battle between good and evil computers which manipulate global technology in the name of love.
Exceptionally accomplished storytelling, dazzlingly witty writing and a brilliantly contemporary central idea combine to make this a great novel. Buy it. Read it. Tell your friends.
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