Dan Brown released a new book not too long ago and like many of you I was quite excited to read it. I am usually not an avid follower of any one author, I am always more interested in the story than the author’s specific style. But Dan Brown is an exception. He had me with Angels and Demons, and as a scientist I always appreciate when people put in the effort to research their novels. It makes a huge difference and is obvious when an author puts in the time.
With Origin, Dan Brown impressed me, yet again. Since his last book Inferno, Dan Brown dived into the intersection of science, art and history, and I am glad that he continued on this course. He always has the knack for finding a very relevant topic to approach and diving head first into it, while still staying true to his field of fiction writing. Through this new novel Dan Brown broached the subject of the origin of the universe, using machine learning to answer the ultimate question: where do we come from?; and where are we going?
I do have to say though, for those of you who are great fans of Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code because of the intricate symbology characteristic of these books, Origin does not match up to these standards. Neither did Inferno for that matter. Additionally, the suspense of Origin did not match the standard of his previous books; even Inferno was comparatively more on par to his previous books with suspense-level. With Origin it was a lot easier to guess the ending. This surprised me for I am not used to guessing the ending of Dan Brown’s work.
However, as mentioned previously, Dan Brown picked a very relevant topic to explore. Machine learning and data science is the wave of the future, with computers giving us the possibility to ask questions that humans themselves would take lifetimes to answer. For Origin artificial intelligence coupled with machine learning was able to answer the ultimate question: Where do we come from? Using the combination of the big bang theory and the primordial soup, a super computer was able to run millions on millions of simulations to test these hypotheses, only to find out something was missing. The theories alone could not explain how life was created. A certain variable was missing to push the formation of life on earth. Something that wasn’t considered when creating these hypotheses. Could this ultimately prove the existence of a God? I won’t give it away.
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
― Haruki Murakami,