Stockbridge author explores AI in new novel /

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STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Author John Cohen’s debut novel focuses on the difficult intersection of personal decision-making and data. His second takes it a step further by asking whether the data we rely on is even real.

In “The Deep Fake,” Sylvie uncovers corporate malfeasance while working for an artificial intelligence company in Boston. And when she falls in love with someone who fears and hates AI, she begins to question everything she knows.

Cohen wants the novel to start a conversation around AI by reflecting Sylvie’s inner conflict.

“In ‘The Deep Fake,’ I’m very concerned about how we move forward. It’s a very difficult problem. So, I wanted my readers to think about it,” Cohen said. said

“I wanted them to see someone struggling with that … so it’s not like it’s a cocktail party conversation and then she goes home and turns on the TV.

Cohen cites his background in marketing and as an executive at technology companies, and a corporate decision he refuses to apologize for because it “felt borderline illegal.”

The novel also explores other moral and sensitive topics such as people pleasing, sexual assault, and other prevalent issues in society.

“When I write, maybe like a lot of people, I don’t know if it’s like a lot of writers, I procrastinate. I avoid sitting down and working hard and I think there’s a moral problem or an ethical problem. It keeps writing about. I’m in my seat. It’s exciting,” he said.

AI allows people to put very persuasive photos or videos of others on the Internet that they otherwise wouldn’t have done, Cohen said, and while she doesn’t know the answers, the implications of the technology are being discussed. Conversations need to be initiated and are possible. Reservations

She’s heard people she thinks are smart and educated say they don’t understand AI or aren’t even concerned about it yet.

“I’m surprised to hear that they don’t know it’s already here and they don’t know they’re necessarily using it, but they are,” he said. “And it’s something we should be happy about and it’s something we should be afraid of. It’s two difficult situations at the same time.”

He has “a terrible fear” about AI and it’s not robots taking over the world – it’s the speed of conspiracy theories and disinformation.

“My hope is that people who are a lot smarter and more knowledgeable than I am are thinking about solving some of these problems. If they’re not, I mean, that’s terrible.” ” he said.

“I don’t know who reads my book, but I just hope it gets people thinking and I hope it gets them going on the Internet, like I have, and reading articles by experts because our “There are different opinions. We solve problems.”

Cohen’s father encouraged him to read the written pages in newspapers because he had a range of ideas, he continued. “It was great advice but when I look back on it, it seems strange.”

Cohen said that today there is no opt-in page, instead people search for topics online and will find information that they already have. This is confirmation bias, he noted, where you take all the facts that support a view you already have and reject all the facts that don’t.

“We can go to MSNBC on TV, if we prefer something that’s more liberal, or we can go to Fox, if we prefer something that’s more conservative.” “I mean, yes, there are a few newspapers left but I don’t think they’re long for this world. That’s critical thinking, though.”

Cohen said he learned about persuasion during his career and it was interesting to see how people’s perception changed.

“Then when I left the tech world, I drew a lot of what I saw, and some of it was amazing and some of it wasn’t so amazing,” he said. “There were some of these people who took advantage of the system and often they were very high up in the companies. It’s like, ‘What can I get away with’ and ‘This is business’ and ‘This is what we do.’ They do. So, don’t be a Girl Scout.”

Sylvie is a people pleaser, and she is not aware of the downside. Cohen said this trait leads him into “some very sticky moral situations.” “I don’t think it’s sexist to say it’s more common in women than men because of how we’re brought up.”

Cohen hopes that young people will read her book and think about whether they have tendencies to please people and how it affects their lives.

“I have kids, obviously, they’re grown and I don’t know if they’ve learned from my books. I think all kids believe their parents were born at 40. I have I’m of two minds about it. I’d like to think so. I’m making a positive impact on young people but, I don’t really know,” she said.

Cohen and her husband have vacationed in the Berkshires since 1977 and moved to the area full time when he retired about seven years ago.

She said the people, environment and cultural sites keep her mind from getting stale, because they attract many people and the community welcomes newcomers.

“A lot of interesting people, a lot of interesting conversations,” she said.

Her first novel, “Land of Last Chances,” a finalist for the 2019 National Indie Excellence Awards, chronicles the life of an executive dealing with a late-term pregnancy and a genetic problem.

Cohen will be signing books at the Pittsfield Barnes & Noble on Saturday, April 20 at 1 p.m., and there will be a launch party at The Bookstore in Lenox on May 4 at 4 p.m.

Tags: local writer,

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