A bomb explodes on a New York catwalk, killing a young model. The designer has a follow-up show in London where Police Commissioner, Christian Verger, has just been notified by his voice assistant that he has a 99.74% chance of dying tomorrow.
Algorithms are already shaping so much in our lives, you definitely don’t need to venture far into the bookish internet to find someone giving tips on how to play the system that Big Tech has designed for us. So imagine if those algorithms had so much data that they could predict what would happen to you today? What if it told you that you were likely to die tomorrow?
When Christian gets his death prediction, he’s just had a fight with his fiancé, Viola, and she’s walked out on him. He doesn’t want that to be the last conversation they had but he has work to do. Will Alexander King’s London show also be targeted by the bomber? How does being told a prediction affect what you do and what if thinking something’s going to happen is the thing that makes it happen… Lots of questions raised in this near-future thriller!
The narrative switches between London 2030, and the past of an unnamed character in 1980’s Montana and the New York fashion scene of the 90’s. As Christian and Viola try to work out who bombed the fashion show in the future, the threads of a connected story slowly weave its way into the mystery.
In addition to more personal predictions, in Future Perfect we see algorithms being used to design clothes and root out suspects in murder investigations. If machine learning can predict what a fashion designer will do, why couldn’t it create designs in their style. What is the role of human creativity if we allow computers to do everything for us?
Viola is working on some software for intelligence agencies to give them lists of suspects and the likelihood of them committing the crime. Part of it pulls in user search history and it opens up a terrifying world where you could become a suspect for just searching the wrong thing at the wrong time.
I listened to this on audio so the narration maybe helped lead me astray, but I did not work out who the character from the past portions was before they were revealed. I love how Felicia Yap’s thrillers mix a dash of speculative fiction in with a gripping mystery. I felt the characters were mostly likeable which helps too!
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