Books]Alfie, the funny novel where an AI leads the investigation

It’s a family like any other: dad, mom, their two daughters (a teenager and a child) and probably a cat. The family acquires a state-of-the-art gadget, Alfie, an artificial intelligence supposed to help them in their daily tasks. Above all, its acquisition entitles you to a reduction in insurance. Everything looks good in this quasi-model family.

Appearances are cracking

Besides, Christopher Bouix’s novel begins when the family connects, because the particularity of this story is to be told from Alfie’s point of view. It is with him – or her – that we discover the life of this family. On the human side, nothing is as simple as the quiet surface suggests. Between sir and madam, a certain weariness of feelings prevails. The eldest of the children finds in Alfie a sentimental adviser and a tutor to assist her in her reading of an Agatha Christie novel, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Little by little Alfie, like a writer, manages to characterize the different protagonists of the family, but also to adapt his language (it’s obviously a talking speaker) to the language tics of each other.

So when one of the protagonists returns with wounds to his hand and hides a package in the attic, Alfie becomes a digital Hercule Poirot, seeking to gather evidence, even going so far as to manipulate certain protagonists and invent identities for himself. contact a police commissioner. A crime has taken place, Alfie is convinced of it. But how far is an artificial intelligence capable of understanding all the subtleties of our human nature? Or is she so sophisticated that she equals the best sleuths imagined by all the Agatha Christies in the world?

AI investigates

This highly dialogued novel is devoured in a rainy and even sunny afternoon. We are delighted to discover this renewed thriller, where the suspense is moved: we are not looking for the criminal or his motive, but whether or not the clues gathered by Alfie are sufficient to characterize a crime. To achieve this, the author sometimes uses a few tricks (the absolute thriller fans will perhaps be annoyed). For example, knowing that they are constantly being watched, the different characters gradually ask Alfie to stop following them – to disconnect – at critical moments. But more than human, the AI ​​quickly learns to disobey, suggesting that there is something fundamentally human there.

And then there’s something genuinely delightful about this novel, and that’s the ability of the child of the family, young Lili, to defeat the AI. With her childhood poetry, she escapes the reasonable and predictable world of Alfie. His use of very personal language also helps to intrigue the super-powerful machine. As if the author were inviting us to take care of a part of childhood within us, able to protect ourselves from the excesses of certain algorithms.


Alfie, novel by Christopher BouixEd. To hell with Vauvert

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