Review: The Truth Machine (a speculative novel) by James L. Halperin

From: Aaron McBride (
Date: Tue Sep 24 2002 - 11:20:40 MDT

No spoilers here.  Please put "SPOILERS" in the subject of any message that contains them.

Title: The Truth Machine: a speculative novel
Author: James L. Halperin
Publishing Date: Sep. 1996

The Truth Machine is a story about a guy who invents a machine to save the world (yeah, that's new ;-) ).  It's only SL2 to SL3 (there are only vague references to the Singularity), but it nevertheless covers many important topics.  Probably one of the best things about the book is how it makes the point that humanity will kill itself off in the next 100 years if we don't make some big changes.  The solution that they come up with is to create a truly open society.  Once the truth machine (a device that can detect with 100% accuracy if someone is lying) is invented and deployed, nobody can plot to release grey goo, let alone cheat on their spouse, without getting caught. Eventually, as people get used to having the truth machine around, they don't even try to lie.  Most people even stop doing things that they would have to lie about later.  I'm not going to tell you the ending, but as you guessed, things don't work out as well as they had planned.

The Truth Machine is very accessible to readers of all shock levels.
Topics covered:
        end of humanity (both the possibility of extinction, and by changing ourselves into something different)
        medical immortality
        near human level AI
        and a slew of social issues (police state, death penalty, privacy, etc...)

While it's doubtful that this book with introduce anything new to the people on this list, it is a good way to bump up your family and friends' shock level.


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