Discussion Questions

The following are discussion questions drawn from the scenes and themes of Burn-In that might be used for book clubs or classrooms.
(Hint: Evil professors might even use these for essay assignments…)

Is the US ready for the coming trends of AI and automation? Why or why not?

Which of the new technologies in Burn-In did you find most interesting? What are you looking forward to the most?

Which of the new technologies in Burn-In did you find most scary or concerning?

Which scene of a future world in Burn-In are you most excited to see come true? Which did you find the most disturbing?

Burn-In portrayed a future world changed by AI and automation, everywhere from politics and the economy to home life. How will AI and automation shape your own life? Your children’s lives?

What are the coming moral/ethical/legal dilemmas that Burn-In illustrated for you? Select one and answer where you personally come down this coming moral/ethical/legal dilemma.

What are the different ideologies of the coming world and what to do about it, as illustrated by characters in the book? Whose worldview did you find yourself agreeing with the most? 

Compare the portrayal of Keegan and TAMS to heroines and machines in other technothrillers. What was the same? What was different?

Burn In envisions a world of even more corporate and government access to data of all kinds, and less personal privacy, used for predictive and shaping activities, from policing to entertainment. Does this world scare you or not? Why? 

Has what played out in the Coronavirus pandemic changed your thoughts on this? What do you think are the lessons of Burn-In for a post-Coronavirus world? 

A key theme in Burn-In is trust, from the question of trust in a partnership with a machine to a broader loss of trust in the networked systems that run our world, as well as the broader American dream. What does “trust” mean to you

How do you think American citizens will react to increasing use of robotics in day-to-day policing?

What does expanding automation and AI, and the likely economic changes and job shifts that will go with it, mean for the future of capitalism?

Do you support the universal basic income concept that was a debate in Burn-In? Why or why not?

If it were to become reality, how much should people get each month? What is fair, and why?

TAMS is a technology. Did you find yourself thinking of it as something more? Why or why not? How about a real world version? Is it right or wrong to “care” for a robot?

How will AI and automation shape your sense of privacy, security, and identity? How about for your children; what might be the same, what might be different?

Create your own Burn-In moment: Choose a real tech or trend and visualize your own scene for explaining it. 

You have been asked by the President to stop the worst things from Burn-In from coming true. What 3 things would you suggest?