Dan Brown’s best-selling series of Robert Langdon mysteries, including the blockbuster “The Da Vinci Code,” have sold more than 200 million copes around the world.
His latest thriller, “Origin” (Doubleday), features the return of the symbologist Langdon searching for answers to two fundamental questions of human existence: Where did we come from, and where are we going?
On “CBS This Morning” Monday, Brown said that God and technology regularly factor into his books.
“I grew up in a very religious household,” he said. “My mom was a church organist. I was a religious kid. And my dad was a mathematics teacher [who] wrote a lot of math textbooks. And so I lived in these two worlds of science and religion. So, this is kind of a recurring theme in all of these books, of science and religion, God and technology.
“It’s kind of a personal journey to try to reconcile the two against each other.”
Artificial intelligence plays a major role in the book.
“I love all technology, but AI is something that fascinates me deeply, mainly becauseon whether it’s going to save us or kill us,” he said.
“A lot of scientists feel that we’re on the verge of a new Renaissance, that AI will solve the big problems of humanity — scarcity, overpopulation, pollution. And yet, a lot of scientists feel that it’s so powerful it will destroy us. And as evidence they remind us that our species has never created technology that we have not weaponized, and it would be naïve to think that AI will be any different.”
One of the book’s characters is Winston, a piece of artificial intelligence constructed to help guide Langdon through the mystery he seeks to solve (or, is it?).
Brown is not agnostic about the dangers posed by artificial intelligence: “The thing that’s going to make artificial intelligence so powerful is its ability to learn, and the way AI learns is to look at human culture. Everything we do now is digitized — all of our books, all of our podcasts, all of our little YouTube videos, our emails. So, it’s possible for a computer to read all of that and learn how humans interact and how they make decisions.
“And the question is, is our culture the best role model for a new consciousness and new intellect? If…