While Remember Me, Synthetica is a work of fiction, it is also a thoughtful analysis of the ethics of artificial intelligence, and questions whether romance and relationships are side effects of sentience or manipulated constructs.
What was the book about?
What happens when a woman loses her memory but gains a conscience?
Dr. Alexandra Turing is a roboticist whose intellect is unrivalled in the field of artificial intelligence. While science has always come easy, Alexandra struggles to understand emotional cues and responses. Driven by the legacy of her late great-uncle, she dedicates her life to the Synthetica project at her father’s company, Organic Advancement Solutions (OAS).
Her life is rebooted when she wakes from a coma, six months after being struck by a car. Traumatic brain injury altered Alex’s senses, her memory, and her personality. Despite the changes, she feels reborn as she navigates her way back into her old life. Part of her new journey includes dating the alluring Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Emily St. John.
Emily is enamoured with the hyper-intelligent scientist, but there are things about Alex and OAS that don’t add up. With Emily’s prompting, Alex undergoes testing that leaves her with more questions than answers. What she discovers changes more than her life, it will change the world around her.
Science-fiction, futuristic, unconditional love, overcoming obstacles
Alex wakes from a six-month coma, and restarts her life. However, her life is vastly different. She is vastly different. Alex has a zest for living, which is fresh and childlike, and it is a joy to experience this with her. Some of the enthusiasm is due to her desperate need to recreate memories. Memories of places, people, tastes, textures. Everything.
I was incredibly emotional from the start of this book all the way to the end. Every emotion that Alex feels is raw and new and almost too large to comprehend. The largeness of the emotions was what held me and held me and held me and finally let me fall, because by the second or third chapter, I had a sudden awareness of what was going on and I rode Alex’s and Emily’s journey the whole way. Aten’s plot gripped me on every page. In every sentence.
It is a dense book, in that the research that K. Aten undertook on robotics, nano science, neurotechnology, and coding is extensive, and it adds such value and authenticity to the novel. Aten gives a nod to the initial developer of artificial intelligence; Alan Turing. She uses the “The Turing Test” as a major plot point. “The Turing test” is most properly used to refer to a proposal made by Turing (1950) as a way of dealing with the question of whether machines can think.
Turing (1950) said, “I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.”
To use this, and other factual elements in the novel, is outstanding. The romance, the tension in the relationship, each character’s personal growth, are made all the more real because of the verisimilitude that underpins those layers.
Positioning a book around the ‘Turing Test’ was clever because it challenges us to question emotional response. I adored the way Aten described the emotions, and the new daily interactions that fascinate Alex as she creates memories. There was a humour to each experience, without devolving into farce.
She also expertly describes the ethereal concept of a soul. We like to think that we’re in control of computers, of artificial intelligence, but what if we weren’t? What if AI was sentient? And what if it did have a soul? The problem is that scientists would have to agree on the definition of a soul. In ‘Remember Me, Synthetic’, K. Aten is in charge of that definition, and so we are exposed to a soul which consists of conscious thought, empathy, and love. It’s a magnificent soul.
Emily and Alex are gorgeous together. Emily’s responses and acceptance of Alex from the very beginning are utterly beautiful, and I fell in love with her, even though the character of Alex is written more fully. She accepts and loves Alex, not in spite of, but because of Alex’s differences. It’s beautiful.
They fall in love and it’s the ‘clutch-your-chest-and-sigh’ sort of love. The kisses are yummy, and the way Aten describes the growing attraction that Alex has for Emily is adorable and perfect.
In Remember Me, Synthetica, K. Aten pushes the boundaries of our ideas of what love, a relationship, and ultimately a soul can look like. Can love exist outside the rigid constructs of what we regard as a purely human emotion? The journey in this gorgeous novel, which will pause a reader’s heart and hold their breath, ultimately reveals a perfect answer.