Daemon by Daniel Suarez

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When I was listening to Leo Laporte’s This Week in Tech special episode on the CES, Tom Merritt mentioned and recommended the book “Daemon” by Daniel Suarez. The author self-published the book, sought the influencers in Silicon Valley and ended up with a book deal. A science fiction thriller destined to be made into a movie, the story left me thinking about the inter-connected world which we lived in even though the premise started from the online gaming world. So, here are some thoughts after reading the book which I highly recommend for those who loved science fiction.

The story invokes the concept of daemons (condensed from the word Disk & Execution Monitor), which are computer programs running continuously in the background and performs specified operations at predefined times or in response to certain events. The concept is essential and you will see how the concept of Daemon unfold that transits from an online to offline world. The novel starts with the obituary of Matthew Sobol, a brilliant architect of computer games and that sets off a dormant daemon that unleashed into our world where it recruits, corrupts and kills people. The protagonist of the story, Detective Peter Sebeck has to work out the entire malevolent, self-replicating virtual enemy and comes to grips with the actual motivation of the Daemon program in the end.

What I liked about the book is how the Daemon launched from the creator was able to set off a series of events that led the protagonist towards a state which one door closes and another opens. Only till you are close to the end of the book, the chain of events you traced thru the eyes of Peter Sebeck becomes inter-connected and it made one terrified that how much we have given up our privacy and data to the Internet. With social networks and location based services, one do wonder if the Daemon in Suarez’s book is unleashed thru an online gaming landscape. It also reminded me of Hari Seldon in Asimov’s Foundation series where he put up videos of himself making several predictions to the people in the future and advising what steps to take. It also reflect how a genius can turn the online world on its head with the use of the Red Queen hypothesis and prepares a series of complex programs that led to the extermination of spammers. In consequence within the book, that action unleashed by Daemon reduced 80% of the spam in the Internet.

You will probably wonder after reading the book that such a reality can happen in our real life.

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Bernard Leong

A Pragmatic Idealist

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