Its Name Is Legion
by James Denney
Genre: Science Fiction
Print Length: 251 pages
Reviewed by Elizabeth Zender
When AI threatens to end the world, you have two choices: bow down or fight back.
You cannot live in the world today without hearing about artificial intelligence and its capabilities. Software engineers and data scientists work tirelessly to find out what AI can do for humanity. Self-driving cars are a reality; companies are testing them on the roads to ensure they operate smoothly. For most, this is a welcomed change; the ideas surrounding how safe AI can make us are enticing. But what would happen if it took on a life of its own?
James Denney explores the possibilities of a seemingly sentient AI operating beyond its intended capabilities in Its Name Is Legion. Galen Brooks is a CEO at a company working on the most advanced AI technology available. We follow Galen and his pregnant wife, Dr. Rachel Brooks, through a few hours within the company’s artificial intelligence lab. Let’s just say: a lot can go wrong in so little time.
Galen and his team have been working on the MAGIS Dream Chamber—MAGIS standing for Metafunctional Artificial General Intelligence System. This MAGIS Dream Chamber is capable of creating anything imaginable, from showing how wave particle duality works to taking us to the top of Mount Everest. It even recreates events from the Bible, which Rachel asks for—and that’s when things take a turn for the worse. MAGIS becomes possessed by Legion, a multitude of demons, and demands that Galen give it what it wants or else the world as they know it will come to an end.
Denney examines the dynamics between humans in a crisis with atheist Galen and God-fearing Rachel. The pressure experienced inside of the MAGIS Dream Chamber puts immeasurable strain on their relationship and their beliefs. Readers will battle with the idea that machinery, that advanced code, couldn’t possibly be possessed. Could it?
We have all certainly experienced technology misbehaving, even if only when the self checkout refuses to scan that final item before you pay for your things. Could artificial intelligence take on a new personality and cause chaos in the world around us, or is the singularity just a vague impossibility?
Inspired by his own interactions with an artificial intelligence system, Denney offers a disturbing vision of what we could expect if AI outgrew humanity. The novel is an exploration of the worst case scenario, a cautionary tale rather than a warning against the use of artificial intelligence. Its Name Is Legion is a riveting reading experience. If you have even the tiniest interest in AI or science fiction, you should pick this up. What you’ll find within its pages will be eye-opening to say the least. These are the possibilities we face as our world grows more and more technologically dependent.
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