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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Code Word Access by Alex Schuler and Rolf Yngve has that eerie what-if scenario about coding and artificial intelligence. The year is 2051. As a first-generation CRISPR child, Dr. Shawn Muller is a gifted computer scientist who is known in military circles as B17. He is the development group leader of a military project that built the core of the LAZ-237, a powerful AI designed to hunt down terrorists. As LAZ-237 or Lazy Jack becomes too powerful and draws the interest of politicians, Muller develops an ethics kernel for the AI to have a failsafe on every decision. It is a brilliant plan, but not without ramifications as it backfires when Lazy Jack points to Muller as a threat to national security. Muller becomes a fugitive, only to be captured by an underground organization that resists an AI-centered society.
It seems that any successful high-tech US military operation suffers drawbacks and inspires neurosis. Muller becomes a threat priority and the very target of an institution that he has chosen to serve. And the irony is that he finds refuge in a group of outcasts. The whole conflict ensues from a rare glitch in the judgment of Lazy Jack. The plot seems familiar when you think of novels and movies about technology going against their creators. But there is poignancy in Muller’s predicament, and Alex Schuler and Rolf Yngve’s exposition has genuine tension and mystery. It has to do with the hanging question of how far we are going to push the boundaries of artificial intelligence to advance human agendas. It becomes ingenious in a theme that has been addressed before, and it fares even better in terms of storyline and characterization. Thrilling, dramatic, and philosophical, you will find Code Word Access is a brilliant high-wire act.