Terms of Service

Subject to change without notice (The AI Dystopia)

Fiction - Dystopia
339 Pages
Reviewed on 11/29/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Craig W. Stanfill is a computer scientist, entrepreneur—and now, writer—with deep experience in artificial intelligence and parallel computing. He received his Ph.D. in AI from the University of Maryland in 1983, then went to work for Thinking Machines Corporation, where he conducted ground-breaking work in machine learning with David Waltz. He then went on to co-found Ab Initio Software, designing innovative software for parallel enterprise computing. He has been awarded over eighty patents.
He has now embarked on a second career as a writer of dystopian science fiction, and has recently published The Prophecy of the Heron, the second book in his AI Dystopia series.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Alex Ndirangu for Readers' Favorite

Terms of Service by Craig W. Stanfill transports you over 200 years into the future. Here, freedom and privacy are ancient memories. Everything that you do, even the slightest contact with anyone across the street, is closely monitored by AIs. Suppose you deviate from the city's terms by acting out of your own personal will? In that case, you risk years of being locked away in a camp, doing hard manual labor from sunup to sundown under brutal supervision, if not lowering your social credit rating. But is anyone in this world strong-willed and daring enough to represent those of us who so dearly wish that we need and deserve to be ourselves but are scared of being locked up? There is one. Although Kim works at The AI Company's regional headquarters and has even recently been promoted, she suffers from an emptiness that cannot be filled by her mind-blowingly intelligent refrigerator that knows what food is good for her health or the virtual reality ballgames. Grab a copy of this book to join Kim as she goes rogue and embarks on an adventure that leads to self-discovery.

The plot is relatively fast-paced, and the author's ability to inform the reader about this futuristic world takes you on a whirlwind trip right from the first chapter. Here, you will visualize Kim arguing with her ever-stubborn refrigerator that wants her to have tofu daily. You will also wish you had Kim's coffee maker, which springs into action even before she wakes up. Craig W. Stanfill did a good job reflecting on broken family ties and how they affect a child's upbringing. I felt sorry for Kim and everyone in the city who was forcefully taken from their birthmother at the tender age of four. I was also overwhelmed with emotion when Kim, as a child, was forced by her mentor to suppress every emotion, be it anger or happiness. I so dearly wished I could creep in and give Kim's heartless mentor the scolding of a lifetime. Terms of Service reads like a stream of consciousness as a young woman who has carried pain through many years of oppression gives us the hope that one day she might get the freedom to think for herself. This intriguing adventure ends with a satisfying conclusion that will leave you wanting to read the story again. Pick up a copy and enjoy.

Nicholus Schroeder

Terms of Service by Craig W. Stanfill is a dystopian/sci-fi novel set in a future where Artificial Intelligence rules the world. Humanity has discarded all notions of self and individuality as AI controls every aspect of their lives. Kim, like everyone else, lives a life constructed by AI, but unlike everyone else, she has the potential to create a high-priority AI. The creation of such a rare commodity requires its creator, Kim in this case, to descend into the world of AI. Kim soon starts having doubts about the world, as AI depicts it, and begins deviating from the path manufactured by AI. As her foray behind the scenes and her familiarity with how her world truly operates continue, she finds herself losing touch with who she is and what is real.

Craig W. Stanfill’s dedication to his worldbuilding had me greatly impressed and captivated. He did a great job at creating an intricate and believable world filled with even the most minute of details that most authors skip over. The dynamic story of Kim’s life entertained me and got me invested in the book from the start till the end. Another thing I enjoyed about this book is how unpredictable the plot was. Each twist and revelation surprised me as predicting the ending or where the story was going was simply not possible. Craig wrote a complex plot and supplemented it with great characters and dialogue. The result of his excellent writing was a book that made me focus more on the plot as it unfolded and less on where it was going and how it would all end. Overall, a great read, and one that fans of artificial intelligence-themed books will surely love.

K.C. Finn

Terms of Service is a work of fiction in the dystopian and adventure subgenres and forms the opening book in The AI Dystopia series. It is intended for the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Craig W. Stanfill. In this intense series-opener to a fantastic and dangerous concept, we find ourselves in a world where prescriptive AI determines every move humanity makes to maximize productivity and control. Our protagonist Kim is an up-and-coming employee at The Artificial Intelligence Company with a bright future; she has the world at her feet and everything she could wish for, except for her freedom. So begins a strange and defiant journey as Kim’s yearning for freedom of choice threatens to collapse the society around her.

Author Craig W. Stanfill sure knows how to write a page-turner, and this captivating opening novel will grip readers from the off with its sinisterly appealing virtual playgrounds, juxtaposed against the dark reality of control and suppression. The plot plays with some really intriguing themes, and protagonist Kim is a highly relatable figure at the heart of it all. Although she has been raised within this cold technological system, her humanity is firmly intact, and that resonates strongly throughout, thanks to the author’s emotive and attentive narration. I really enjoyed the underlying themes discussing where true happiness and contentment come from in life. Overall, I found Terms of Service to be a highly engrossing first novel with a lot of promise and excitement for what’s to come in future works.

Essien Asian

In Craig W. Stanfill's Terms of Service, obey the terms as stipulated in your contract and all will be well with you. Failure to do so and the consequences may be far worse than you can imagine. For Kim, life could not be any more perfect. She has a dream job programming the AIs and with a few more points for good behavior, there is a very real chance of an upgrade to better living conditions. The AIs can indeed be a bit overbearing but if you keep your head down and focus on your work your misdemeanors may be overlooked. Unfortunately, she was not laying low when she and Shan took a bicycle ride into a restricted zone against her better judgment, and now she must face the consequences.

Craig W. Stanfill's Terms of Service takes the concept of contractual agreements we would normally pay minimal attention to and attaches a life-or-death clause to them in an intriguing manner. With an authoritarian administration whose ideas about control of the citizenry would make even staunch adherents of George Orwell's Big Brother concept blush, the artificial intelligence component factors in to give the novel a disturbingly realistic feel. The primary character is well-fleshed out and her attempts at rationalizing the hierarchy's actions create an immersive atmosphere that draws a reader into the novel. I like the way Stanfill tells this story, with attention to detail bringing out every aspect of this novel with a high degree of clarity. Terms Of Service is a thought-provoking novel that will leave you asking some very important questions about the freedoms we take for granted. Another impressive body of work from Craig W. Stanfill.

Vincent Dublado

Terms of Service by Craig W. Stanfill is a remarkable dystopian tale about a young woman named Kim, who works for the Artificial Intelligence Company. The job is a dream come true, but over the last several years, she has been training simple automata or devices that are incapable of thinking for themselves, and she is more than ready for a change. Outside work, Kim is a part of a citizenry that has long been deprived of civil liberties, as every aspect of human lifestyle is subject to evaluation and approval. Along comes Kimberly Jefferson Haley, an AI of Kim’s own creation. As they work together, they will break symmetry and challenge each other, and Kimberly will open Kim’s mind to the hidden truth underneath the external appearance of what is trying to pass off as a perfect and orderly world.

Terms of Service is a fierce social commentary, yet it is also wise and well-informed. Craig W. Stanfill definitely sustains a level of futuristic world-building that has the same intensity as his second book in the series. The theme in this book is ever more vital in the present day as we continue to explore ways of making artificial intelligence become a vital part of our lives. Similarly, the plot’s take on totalitarianism doesn’t travel far from the truth, as there are countries experiencing the evils of this method of rule. Much of the action in Terms of Service takes place within a virtual reality system, which is so realistic, and I can only guess that Stanfill may be having a prophetic vision of how nations could engage in conflict in the future. If you love reading dystopian tales like Animal Farm and The Handmaid’s Tale, as well as watching films like The Matrix and Tron, I highly recommend that you start following this series.