I just finished reading Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez. Daniel became one of my favorite science fiction writers when I read Daemon. Steward Brand turned me on to Daemon. If you haven't read Deamon, you should. I wrote about it back in 2008. After Daemon, Daniel wrote a sequel, Freedom™, which was also awesome.
In addition to being gripping thrillers that you can't put down, the books are all based on existing or near future technologies that make the stories amazingly scary and plausible. When Daniel wrote Daemon he was "an independent systems consultant to Fortune 100 companies. He has designed enterprise software for the defense, finance and entertainment industries," and can actually hack most of the technology that he talks about in his books.
In Daemon and Freedom™ the theme was a kind of MMORPG world gone wild where the online takes over the real world.
In Kill Decision, Daniel pivots and takes us to a world where autonomous mass-produced swarming drones establish a new era of warfare. There is an interesting discussion in the book where one of the characters argues the following:
In the middle ages, trained, mounted, armored knights could do an asymmetrical amount of damage taking out huge numbers of peasants making them an important unit of power. (Think Game of Thrones :-) ) This influenced the architecture of government - feudalism. Later, with the invention of gunpowder, a large number of mostly unskilled peasants properly armed with rifles could take on a relatively large number opponents, leveling the play field and paving the way for democracy.
WIth the autonomous drones empowered with the kill decision, brute force manufacturing and big data analysis - in other words money - could become the primary force of power.
Whether you're talking to Lessig about the corruption of modern lawmaking by special interests or the #occupy movement, it's clear that money and the aggregation of financial power is out of control and taking over the world. In Kill Decision, Daniel takes this trend and connects it very directly to the technology that we're all so excited about and adds a deadly and exciting twist.
There are a number of important elements of the story that take place in research labs at universities and it was a lot of fun comparing some of the characters to people in my new life at the Media Lab. (Looking forward to Daniel visiting the Media Lab.)
Overall, really great book. I totally recommend it and props to Daniel for totally nailing the timing. In case you missed it, see the Ted talk on autonomous quadrcopters from this year's TED which play a big role in in Kill Decision. I also loved the little details like the dig on Comic Sans. ;-)