Here are two modern hard sf novels you should read. You can download them in various formats for free. Both are highly recommended and famous science fiction novels from the past few years:
The book is a collection of nine short stories telling the tale of three generations of a highly dysfunctional family before, during, and after a technological singularity.
The first three stories follow the character of “venture altruist” Manfred Macx starting in the early 21st Century, the second three stories follow his daughter Amber, and the final three focus largely on her son Sirhan in the completely transformed world at the end of the century.
In Accelerando, the planets of the solar system are dismantled to form a Matrioshka brain, a vast computational device inhabited by minds inconceivably more complex than naturally evolved intelligences such as human beings. This proves to be a normal stage in the life cycle of an inhabited solar system; the galaxies are filled with Matrioshka brains, communicating via wormhole networks. Lesser intelligences may live unmolested around brown dwarf stars.
Canadian author Watts (Starfish) explores the nature of consciousness in this stimulating hard SF novel, which combines riveting action with a fascinating alien environment. In the late 21st century, when something alien is discovered beyond the edge of the solar system, the spaceship Theseus sets out to make contact. Led by an enigmatic AI and a genetically engineered vampire, the crew includes a biologist who’s more machine than human, a linguist with surgically induced multiple personality disorder, a professional soldier who’s a pacifist, and Siri Keeton, a man with only half a brain. Keeton is virtually incapable of empathy, but he has a savant’s ability to model and predict the actions of others without understanding them. Once the Theseus arrives at the gigantic and hideously dangerous alien artifact (which has tellingly self-named itself Rorschach), the crew must deal with beings who speak English fluently but who may, paradoxically, not even be sentient, at least as we understand the term.
Blindsight focuses very heavily on the concepts of identity, cognition, and the problems of intelligence. The Chinese Room scenario features prominently in the book.
Also recommended by a neuroscientist called Peter Stimson (originally from Duke)— who thinks that Blindsight’s portrayal of various agnosias and pointy-haired homunculi serves as an apt introduction to the conundrum of self-awareness for his students: rifters.com/crawl/?p=204
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