Machines like me – Ian McEwan
“I can’t intervene on my feelings. You must grant me my feelings “. An android aware but without unconsciousness dominated by a perfect logic, too much compared to the unpredictable mistake of the human being. Machines like me of Ian McEwan is not a science fiction book, even if it takes us to an alternative 1982 where the Beatles got together, England lost the Falklands against Argentina and Thatcher resigns to leave the helm of the country to Tony Benn who reminds us so much of Jeremy Corbin, then assassinated after he led Britain out of Europe. Yes, all this. But even more so in 1982, technology has had incredible developments thanks to scientists, from Einstein to Feynman who have conditioned small things and large industrial processes. Already, given that Alan Turing is still alive and well, remembering his youth in a dialogue with the protagonist, he welcomes the choice made in the face of the accusation of homosexuality in the 1950s. Prison with respect to chemical castration. A happy choice, says the Alan Turing, father of artificial intelligence and algorithms, more or less in the novel, with sarcasm. The irony of McEwan, bitter, given that the true Turing genius on which the birth of computer science depended, instead opted for the horrible chemical castration that led him, at just 41 years, to suicide.
It is in these 80s that Charlie receives a huge inheritance. A mountain of pounds that invests in an unconventional purchase: one of the very few androids (about twenty) created with the most formidable technological abilities. He does not have time to buy an Eva, so it is called the female model, and so Adam enters his apartment. Able to learn from its mistakes, to evolve through the knowledge of the world around it and constant and continuous access to the internet, the android of Machines like me becomes the means by which Charlie wants to bind himself to his little more than twenty years old, Miranda, ten years younger than him. And he succeeds. Together they program it, in the personality, and so Adam enters the three-way dynamic, ending up in bed with Miranda. A betrayal that will condition the relationship, like the arrival of a child in difficulty to whom the girl immediately becomes connected, generating jealousies in the two males of the house. Miranda hides secrets, the relationship with Charlie evolves, and the night with Adam is compared to using a dildo. Although they are all related. While many androids commit suicide due to the burden of human suffering, McEwan shows us the vertigo that comes with artificial intelligence. Feeling feelings, he reflects on life and death, but he does not know the nuance, the ambivalence of nature oscillating between instincts and moral constructions, sometimes not converging. How to create an algorithm that makes the blush (and the sense of right) of a lie told to a friend for a good purpose? In the simplicity of this image, there is not only the proof to which the protagonists of Machines like me are subjected, but the questions we ask ourselves by looking a little further into the future.