Why did I love this book?
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is the novel behind the 1982 film Bladerunner, is the quintessential AI novel because it presents two of the major dilemmas presented by advanced artificial intelligence: 1) If an AI is as smart as a human, how do humans control it? 2) If an AI can think like a human, should it be regarded as a fellow living being? The beauty of the novel is that it presents these issues from the point of view of a human being, Rick Deckard, who has to make decisions about whether to allow the android AIs in the story to live or die.
The novel takes place on a post-nuclear-war Earth, which has been abandoned by healthy and well-to-do humans, leaving radiation-infected and poor people behind. The rich are served by androids, some of whom escape to come to Earth and pass themselves off as humans. Deckard must hunt them down and kill them. A new version of these androids is indistinguishable from humans, even when given the empathy test that usually identifies them, and Deckard falls in love with one of them he is supposed to kill.
When Deckard encounters these new AIs, he has difficulty distinguishing them from humans and begins to wonder if he, himself might be an AI. Even when he decides he is human, he is torn between allowing the AIs to live and terminating them, especially the one with whom he has fallen in love. It’s a classic story and one that makes you think.