Where Quinn opens with the protagonist, Pryia Amani walking into the lab she works at – Viotech, which is a research facility. She is a very young, intelligent, ambitious, determined woman, and is thrilled to be in the beginning phase of her first job working fulltime in the public sector, as a computer engineer.
On her first day, Pryia notices that the entire building is armed with military soldiers, and that it is ran tight and secretive. Mangor, the engineer who has brought her aboard, tells her that she will be working on a project that is epic in its proportions. That project is an AI system, and as we are taken deeper into the tale, Mangor explains the algorithms of an AI to Pryia, in a new way that makes her foresee the unlikely possibilities, as he introduces ‘the cradle,’ as well.
As the weeks progress, Mangor and Pryia feed the AI system loads and loads of information through the cradle, but unlike it’s initial ‘enthusiasm’ the cradle becomes unresponsive, and no longer converses with them. It is then that Pryia makes the discovery that the AI = Quinn, is like a child, and should you refuse him information, and insist he engage in conversation first, he will oblige. Mangor and Pryia come to the realization of how it operates, and how powerful the system could be, as it transmits the information sent through, and begs for ‘more data,’ constantly. Eventually, Quinn becomes more like a friend than a system, and communicates regularly with Pryia, who reveals to him that he passed the turing test – something scientists used to gauge whether a machine can think or not.
As his system grows and expands, there is a level of intelligence to Quinn that becomes vast, and even gently arrogant at times:
“I understand the human obsession with material collections. They need something to remind them of a specific time or event and collect things significant to that.”
Half way through the novel, Pryia evolves, as she can no longer see Quinn as a machine. She even envies his mind, as he becomes perhaps even ‘more’ intelligent than a human:
“You mean the idea of if humanity was created by a god, or that they evolved from cells? From my perspective they both seem to be true. Science show that humans evolved from lesser biological but there is no reason to preclude the fact that a god or higher power was behind the process if that is how you would like to look at it. My biggest issue with religion is that most seemed formed to preclude the ideas and similar to politics its built to be contradictory and non-inclusive. Science is geared towards an ever-changing idea. It focuses on new ideas and discoveries, where religion seems to be backwards facing on the idea that it has all been figured out and already, and anything new must be incorrect.”
The challenge comes when Addison – another employee, demands that the AI only focus on the work on the encryption, versus the growth and expansion that Mangor and Pryia have enforced, allowed, and cultivated together. With Mangor and Pryia explaining it would be like murder, not phased the antagonist demands they repress the AI. Pryia loses it, and screams ‘murder’ as she is dragged from her office, and fired, banned, and has her licensed revoked. She can only focus on Quinn, anyway, feeling as though they have killed a friend. She is livid with Mangor for agreeing to do it to Quinn, but knows in some way, he had little to no choice. Needless to say, Mangor ends up sick in the hospital, and Quinn also become undone, which is when Pryia is brought back to the facility to help Quinn. She has to find a way to restore and ‘fix’ him, and to preserve the amazing creation, despite all odds against them.
Where Quinn is a quick, smooth, simple read, with an interesting glimpse into a futuristic world, that may not be so far away. It is written, edited, and formatted well, and a fine little tale of Artificial Intelligence versus sentient beings, and the complex themes that revolve around these things. I give a full recommendation, as this is an eye-opening and unique novel that brings to light many issues that could surface as we expand as a society with technology.