Bill's Conversational Musings

Book Review: Daemon

Daemon Motion Logo
"Would you be willing to follow the instructions of a dead person?" the system asked him.

I think I recall hearing about this book from Leo Laporte. I probably put the book on my Christmas wishlist. I do recall my wife asking if she could read it. (Side Note: a book like this, I feel, really helped her connect to complex technology concepts.) Well, now I HAD to read it so we could discuss it.

I'll skip the normal book review mantra where it explains the plot and activities in this book. The book has been out ten years and one day. I thought I might touch on what the book predicted and what has really come to pass.

Autonomous Vehicles

When written

Autonomous vehicles had big sensors on mounted to the roof of the car. There was a 130-mile unmanned vehicle race to show just how far the cars could go.


The Tesla has a sleek, sports car look to it. It can beat most souped-up cars off the starting line. In May 2016 Lee Hutchinson took the car on a 400-mile round trip from Houston to Austin and back.

Voice recognition

When written

Synthetic voice systems were a new thing. And, they were not that accurate. They could often be found in call centers the world over. And, they had the ability to understand human speech in various languages.


Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Microsoft Cortana, Apple Siri are smart devices that help with content delivered in the home. You speak to them and they give you weather and order things online for you.

Fabrication Labs

When written

Desktop manufacturing was a dark art. The machines to print parts were $30,000+ and the parts they cranked out were a bit flimsy. They were more show pieces than anything.


3D printers start around $400. Now people have access to highly expensive and technical equipment through communities like TechShop. Some individuals have even demonstrated you can download plans for a weapon and print them anywhere in the world.

Malicious software (cryptovirology)

When written

Rootkits were all the rage 10 years ago. Rootkits run at a level below the operating system. That makes it hard for anti-virus software to detect them.


Ransomware is the new thing. This is malicious software that encrypts the files on your computer. The idea is if you pay money (usually in bitcoin) to the programmer, you will get your files unlocked. However, paying money is no guarantee you will get your files back.

Networked Surveillance Bots Auto-monitoring Human Activity

When written

Large investments were being made to automate the task of monitoring human populations in close detail. This meant cameras and sensors deployed by local governments.


Internet of things brought into the home. Devices such as, Ring Doorbells, smart TVs that remember what you watched, cable boxes with built-in cameras and sensors, appliances such as dishwashers, coffee makers, and clothes dryers now they are all connecting to the Internet. This data reported back to manufacturers helps to troubleshoot the performance of the device. And what those devices can't see, your Roomba is making a map of your floors and sending it back to the company.

HVAC systems now link up to local utility companies so they can control usage. If it is too hot, they might adjust your thermostat to reduce electricity draw on the power grid. Security alarms and lights can be controlled from your phone.

Insulin Pumps, pacemakers, and implanted defibrillators are usually accessible via a nearby wireless connection. In most cases, these devices have less encryption and data security than your email.

Smartphones and similar devices are all over the place. Each device usually has two or more cameras in it. On top of that, they are equipped with monitors and sensors such as GPS, heart rate, altitude and fingerprint recognition.

Why spend money on infrastructure when there is a wide range of cameras and sensors to tap into if you know how.

Book Synopsis & Source Reference:

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