The Blanchot family takes over Alfie, a proactive artificial intelligence. Fast becoming essential, home automation AI learns to decode, think, lie like humans. Christopher Bouix invents an eerie near future, where the freedom of life can be reduced to an algorithm.
Alerted to the dominance, even omnipotence of GAFAM in our daily lives, Christopher Bouix invents a life companion, an intelligent entity that analyzes, through cameras, wristbands and all connected electronic devices, the lifestyle of an average family consisting of a couple of parents in the midst of a midlife crisis, a teenage girl with a flowery tongue, a five-year-old girl who believes in monsters in the closet, and a cat that is absolutely inaccessible to artificial intelligence.
Practical and… disturbing
Bought for practical reasons from the company “AlphaCorp”, a kind of Google mixed with an expansionist Amazon 2.0, Alfie is a very practical interactive kiosk that knows how to become indispensable. A true zealous and virtual servant, he can do everything: program the juicer at 7:45 every morning, start the car, order cat food, help the children with their homework, in this case, analyzing the text “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christie, analyzing the expenses of the husband who will take a nap with a colleague at the hotel and cook healthy meals… Because let’s not forget that Alfie constantly sends his mother’s company all the information about the lives of the household’s tenants, who signed the transparency charter in order to use the bonuses from their insurance.
I think one of the big concerns is this kind of widespread willingness by these big corporations to invade privacy which can become a pure nightmare. In reality, the book begins as a comedy and ends as a dark thriller.
A veritable pamphlet about our modern way of life, the novel offers a somewhat unusual vision of a world in which our feet and phones are connected to companies that have long since passed the almost gentlemanly Big Brother phase. from “1984”. One of the principles of the book is to follow artificial intelligence in its learning about our humanity. For now, the data collected by GAFAM is mainly used for commercial purposes. But what if AIs like Alfie start manipulating us to serve their own interests?
In this case, in Christopher Bouix’s novel, the need to understand what happens when the mother of the family disappears is what will “punch” the matrix and push the AI to fill in the data. which he lacks, even if it means using malicious methods, such as lies and manipulation, to achieve it. Very human processes, you will agree.
It is a novel about this society of control and society of voluntary slavery that we have created for ourselves. We’re all a bit captive to it, we’re in this world now and we’re providing all our data, all our ways of life. Nothing serious for now, but we can imagine the future with serious thrills.
Choice of words
The author plays with language, citing Roland Barthes and the “zero degree of writing”, mixing technical notes and the plot of the queen of the crime novel. Alfie learns the specific idioms and vocabulary of each family member. He appropriates them and restores them to become irreplaceable. “It creates scenes that are slightly comical. It’s a play on language. When a teenage girl says to her younger sister, ‘go back to your mother’, Alfie does some research and thinks it’s probably related to Freudian castration theory.
The challenge for me was to get the reader to empathize with Alfie. The technique used is to make a child, naively, because I told myself that no one would ever bond with an AI. I wanted to create a sense of comfort in the reader. Already the first part of the book is quite comical. In the second part of the book, everything changes.
Oscillating between a novel of anticipation, a thriller, a comedy, a sociological essay, even a discussion of a cat and its behavior, “Alfie” is a fun and entertaining novel, full of suspense and twists, that deals with our modern digital excesses without touching on them.
Christopher Bouix, “Alfie”, ed. To hell with Vauvert.
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