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Book review: Using AI to repair fractures in family relationships

Imagine what could happen if you could re-do that last conversation with a loved one.

Humanoid AI robot Ameca, by Engineered Arts, attended the UN artificial intelligence summit in Geneva. — © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP Emma McIntyre
Humanoid AI robot Ameca, by Engineered Arts, attended the UN artificial intelligence summit in Geneva. — © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP Emma McIntyre

Artificial intelligence has become a hot-button issue in workplaces. Yet how might it impact our personal lives? Nadia Uddin believes that AI has the potential to fix our most challenging personal relationships. Based on this premise she has written a ‘genre-bending’ book about this topic.

Edison in the Hood is Uddin’s nuanced exploration into what could happen if we had the ability to go back and reenact those moments we regret. This makes for an interesting and thought-provoking read.

The book begins when the lead character Aisha Malik’s mother died, she took a secret with her — one that destroyed her relationship with Aisha’s brother, Sam. The key plot point of the novel is based on ‘what if Aisha could revive her mother’s brain just long enough to reenact their last conversation and discover the truth?’

Edison in the Hood, from multiple award-winning author Nadia Uddin, is a novel that takes readers to the not-too-distant future where feuding siblings are left to face the aftermath of their mother’s passing while juggling complex family dynamics, societal issues and the possibility that with technology, a relationship re-do with their deceased mother is possible.

Uddin is the winner of the 17th Annual National Indie Excellence Award for Science Fiction, IPPY’s 2023 Silver Medal in Urban Fiction and Slice’s 2019 Bridging the Gap Award

“I believe artificial intelligence has the potential to fix our most challenging relationships,” Uddin tells Digital Journal. “Imagine what could happen if you could re-do that last conversation with a loved one.” Speculative fiction at its best.

In Edison in the Hood, Uddin’s second book, the character Aisha is an ambitious PR executive with a forte for making complex and controversial topics accessible to the masses. Her brother, Sam, is a despondent genius who loves to fight everyone and everything in the name of justice, hopping from one political fight to another and hiding a mental illness that causes him shame.

When the opportunity arises for Aisha to work with brilliant scientist and leading futurist Jay Edison at his Brain Reinvigoration Project, she begins obsessing over artificial intelligence and its potential to revive her mother’s brain. She begs Sam to participate, unaware that he has begun working with groups that have very different visions for the future of artificial intelligence.

The siblings set out to define the role that technology should play in society, asking themselves, “Artificial intelligence may solve the world’s biggest problems, but can it fix our most challenging relationships?”

On this premise, Edison in the Hood offers a well-crafted and provocative exploration into what it means to be human and possess free will in a culture gripped by automation. As Aisha and Sam grieve their mother’s passing, they delve into the complex morals of scientific advancement, revealing how technology plays a part in relationships — with both the living and the dead.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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