The Most Important Discussion in AI Ethics is Hidden in Plain Sight, in a Teenage Fiction Book

Jason Bell
2 min readApr 24, 2022

One of the joys of the book club that I attend, apart from tea and scones, is being asked to read something that I’d never normally consider. It’s usually a feat that I finish a book with schedules as they have been (I’m on a three in a row streak after two years in the group).

So, for April, we were asked to read Show Us Who You Are by Elle McNicoll. The story revolves around the meeting of Cora and Adrien, their friendship over time and the workings of the mysterious Pomegranate Institute.

Without going into the depths of the story, spoilers, the institute is an artificial intelligence research centre, with an aim to offer the public access to “Grams”, automated intelligent people, whether living or dead. Want to talk to your dead relative? Well, there’s a Gram for that, book a time and you can talk to them. Want to meet a celebrity? Well, there’s a Gram for that too.

During the course of the book you are drawn into the whole ethics of the Grams, how they are trained and how they are owned, how they could be changed. And it beautifully opens up a huge discussion around AI ethics about ownership, the right to change information contained and trained within another person’s AI representation.

And you know what, I don’t want to spoil any of it. The neurodivergent themes in the book, with Cora’s autism and Adrien’s ADHD are done in such a loving tender way that I was crying at the end of it all.

No spoilers here…. I encourage you to read it for yourself and come up with your own conclusions and opinions. I’m keeping my review for the book club.

Jason Bell

Jason Bell: Empowering businesses with cutting-edge AI strategies as a High-Performance Consultant and Coach