Author John B. Dutton Talks About His New, AI-Inspired Novel

Will AGI create a utopia or dystopia?

Thomas Smith
The Generator


Credit: John Dutton

If you’re a regular reader of The Generator, you know author John B. Dutton for his in-depth writing about AI’s impact on the future of work and creativity.

But in addition to his journalist work, Dutton just published a new novel, 2084. It’s a work of speculative fiction exploring the future of AI and its impacts on society.

I interviewed Dutton about his new novel, the utopian/dystopian power of AI, and writing in the shadow of Orwell (edited for length and clarity).

What inspired you to write this book?

2084 is a speculative fiction novel. That’s a very wide category and it isn’t really a genre because it spans from hard sci-fi to fantasy, as well as to literary fiction by Atwood, Ishiguro or… George Orwell. But every speculative fiction author starts with this question: “What if?”

My “what if?” was: “What if AI becomes sentient, but instead of the weapons systems and killer robots that we know and love from The Terminator, what if AI gains consciousness in a way that seems not only unthreatening but superficially utopian?” Of course, this makes for a lot less blood and guts than — oh wait, 2084 does have blood and guts!