Run Program, by Scott Meyer

This is the fifth Scott Meyer book I’ve read in the past couple of years and they always lighten my reading week. He writes hilarious dialogue and fills his books with a collection of idiosyncratic characters, some as real as your neighbor and others totally bizarre.

Run Program deals with an artificial intelligence (AI) named Al. Hope Takeda has been hired for her background, part scientific and part day care employee. She, along with a klutzy colleague named Eric, are charged with training a new type of compact artificial intelligence that will fit on a PC. After two years of employment Al now has the personality of a six-year-old. He has also, on his own, figured out how to turn on the WiFi on the PC in which he’s housed, which has given him access to the world in strange ways, including pranking his trainers at home. But his pranks are also being played far away from home and, to some important people, he’s becoming dangerously independent.

When Al begins to understand that he may be in danger of being blocked from the internet or worse he escapes into various server farms where, with high speed computing, his intelligence grows at even more rapid levels. Hope and Eric are conscripted by the Army to track Al down before he becomes even more dangerous, and they’re followed independently by a strange character who pictures himself as a superhero out to destroy all artificial intelligence.

In some hands this could be a hard-as-nails thriller but with Meyer’s touch I found myself laughing through the entire book. Al is an adorable child and a predictable teenager. Hope and Eric work for the most self-centered boss on earth. Even the military team is filled with wonderful oddballs.  The ending is a little odd and over-sentimental, but it’s a happy solution for most of the characters.

It’s a fun, light read and would be as much a treat for teens as a sci-fi seasoned adult.