BY JEFF AYERS

For The Associated Press

Push a button and an unmanned aerial drone can fly hundreds of miles to hit a specific military target. Sometimes they miss their target by a tiny fraction and the collateral damage results in civilian casualties. Daniel Suarez’s new thriller, “Kill Decision,” asks what would happen if artificial intelligence could acquire a target without any human involvement. Suarez examines this possibility, mixing in hard science to deliver the authenticity necessary for a terrifyingly real scenario.

The story follows a Special Ops soldier with the code name of Odin as he rescues scientist Linda McKinney following a lab explosion. Someone has followed her studies into the social interactions of weaver ants and incorporated that methodology into a new autonomous drone. Scientists lose both data and their lives, and suddenly the United States becomes a war zone as people around the country witness targeted missile attacks.

Nobody knows when the next explosion will occur, or what other computers with top-secret research will be compromised. McKinney and Odin take the call to action to stop the threat without the help of technology, since their equipment can track and kill them.

“Kill Decision” reads like a Michael Crichton thriller, showcasing the science we use today and creating a future that could become reality. However, a section highlighting some of the more difficult scientific terms and acronyms scattered throughout the novel and further discussing the ramifications of the concepts that “Kill Decision” explores would have been helpful.

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