The Story of a Robot FBI Agent And Another American Revolution

On CYBER this week, we’re talking about a novel that frightfully depicts a not-so-distant future where FBI agents work with robot partners and terrorists meet up inside video games.
19 June 2020, 12:39am

We grew up watching movies about the robot uprising. Science fiction has warned us for decades that the robots were coming and that they’d be smarter, stronger, and faster.

Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robot Revolution is a story about the social upheaval that’ll come when automation has taken over. Set in the near future, Burn In depicts a world where FBI agents work with robot partners, algorithms have replaced lawyers, and terrorists meet up inside a video game to discuss their next target.

Burn-In looks like a light Summer read, but it’s filled with footnotes and references like a non-fiction book.

Authors August Cole and P.W. Singer call this FICINT and see it as a way to envision the future using both fiction and well researched fact. Cole is a journalist who’s covered the defense industry for everyone from NPR to the Wall Street Journal. Singer has worked for the Brookings Institute, the Barack Obama presidential campaign, and more Pentagon connected think tanks than can be named.

FICINT is Cole and Singer’s latest attempt to communicate the challenges of the future to both the general public and America’s policy makers.

Special guest host and Motherboard contributor Matthew Gault is on CYBER this week interviewing Singer on what it’s like to write about the future when you have to cite your sources.

To read a scene from the book, Motherboard has an excerpt from halfway through Burn-In detailing how a critical infrastructure hack leads to flooding in the streets of Washington D.C.

This article originally appeared on VICE US.