Greg Kieser releases Dear Machine: A Letter to a Super-Aware Intelligent Machine (SAIM)


I took on reading Greg Kieser’s Dear Machine: A Letter to a Super-Aware Intelligent Machine (SAIM) with some excitement. I’m quite interested in how technology has advanced by leaps and bounds towards making science fiction science fact, particularly the design, implementation, and integration of artificial intelligence into our modern world. Despite the title, I didn’t know what to expect, however, when I began reading the book. Would it be a dry treatise weighed down with a plethora of footnotes, glossary, and written for wonks? How would Kieser help me understand this topic? I found out within five pages what direction the book would take for me.

Kieser frames his book as a letter to a non-specific fictional machine of the future and builds the work as a dialogue of sorts between himself and the machine he names SAIM. It seems early on Kieser uses this device as an entrance point into Dear Machine, but it’s a launching point as well. Kieser doesn’t maintain a total reliance on the device and often veers off into extended passages where the text is clearly addressing the reader rather than continuing to indulge one of its few artistic conceits. The meat of the book’s arguments and ideas comes to life during these passages and, by the time I finished the book, I fully understood how he uses the idea of writing SAIM a letter as a sort of hinge to swing him and the reader alike from one section into another.

I think it is a minor masterstroke for a work of this nature. I cannot call upon a vast store of research to explain my thoughts on the subject to a non-academic lacking the same passion, but Kieser possesses a wealth of knowledge about the topic and his decision to structure the book as a letter made it more comprehensible for me. That’s going to be an invaluable thing for getting as many eyes on his writing as possible. He makes observations about complex ideas like idea ecosystems, human nature and how it may react to artificial intelligence becoming prevalent in our daily lives, terms like supersystems, and so forth comprehensible to even a lay reader. This is no small thing.

The fact he manages to provide such a sweeping overview within such confining limits testifies to how well he has worked out his theories and skill as a writer. Making such a possibly dry subject come to life for those lacking the same knowledge demands someone who values concision above verbosity, but Kieser does an exceptional job of maintaining a truly human voice as well that gives the work a conversational air rather than the tone of a classroom lecture. It’s crucial for deepening the impact of this work. Greg Kieser’s Dear Machine: A Letter to a Super-Aware Intelligence Machine (SAIM) is a good read and posits a number of intriguing possibilities about human kind’s future worthy of any thinking person’s time and has a number of intangible qualities that will draw you into its world.  


Michael Rand

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