Hello everyone and welcome to another brilliant blog tour! Today is my stop on the The Final Correction tour hosted by Bookollective. I have a vital guest post to share with you all, written by Alec Birri, that concerns Dementia and the future of mental health (among other things). It is a truly brilliant guest post and I think that plenty of people will appreciate having spent the time to read it. Thank you Alec for taking the time to write this piece. Please show your support for Alec’s work in the comments below.
About Alex Birri
Bio taken from Alec Birri’s personal website: alecbirri.com/the-author/
Alec Birri served thirty years with the UK Armed Forces. He commanded an operational unit that specialised in new military capabilities classified at the highest level – Top Secret Strap 3.
What are your novels about?
How we unwittingly allow ourselves to redefine what we know to be right and wrong. Basically, if Orwell intended Animal farm and 1984 to be a warning, then society is ignoring the message.
What inspired you to write?
Some of my more unsettling military experiences. They have played on my mind ever since so I guess there’s a cathartic element too.
Sounds ominous! I take it what you were involved in can’t be disclosed?
I’m keen not to end my days as another Edward Snowdon or Julian Assange so sadly not. Having said that, the various governments involved will eventually relax the classification, but only because society will have accepted them by then – just as CONDITION’s protagonists do.
But given your background there must be some truth in there?
My writing is inevitably semi-autobiographical and much of the dialogue is word for word, but for the reasons mentioned, events and individuals have had to be fictionalised.
Who would enjoy your work? Who’s your audience?
Anyone that enjoys a thought-provoking dystopian thriller. Population control, eugenics, identity and ethics feature as do government cover-ups so those intrigued by conspiracy theories should also find it interesting.
ALT TRUTHS will be out in 2018, but I’m not sure after that. There’s a particular event I would like to write about, but where it happened is important to the plot and that might reveal more than I’m prepared to at this stage.
Book Synopsis for The Final Correction
So, Professor Savage has been unmasked as the monster Alex Salib always knew he was. But what was their agreement and why is she still determined to see it through? The war on terror appears to be back on track, but why does President Kalten seem hell-bent on ramping it it up – are the Americans seriously intent on starting World War Three?
And what of the treatment itself? Despite Savage’s arrest, the ‘corrections’ go on, but to what end? The laws of unintended consequences are about to cause a seismic shift in the very nature of our existence. But then our new master knows that and won’t let it happen until we’re ready…
…Ready to accept the unacceptable.
Alex Birri’s Guest Post
Dementia is often described as ‘a ticking time bomb’. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, by 2025 there will be one million sufferers in the UK and, without a cure, by 2051 that number is expected to double. It’s clear a treatment is needed and, if the many ‘breakthroughs’ that sadly turn out to be false-dawns are anything to go by, every effort is being made to rid society of what is fast becoming its biggest issue.
Which is probably why some of the more fanciful attempts receive so much media attention. On the face of it, the aims of companies like Elon Musk’s ‘Neuralink’ are straight from the pages of a science fiction novel: link our thoughts with those of a computer and let artificial intelligence come up with the answer to dementia. Elon even thinks the ‘link’ could be functioning as a concept in as few as four years. Think about that. By 2022 you could be operating your phone by thought alone – no more bumping into others on your walk to work, that’s got to be a good thing, right?
There’s no doubting Elon’s track record in matters technical. Paypal and space rockets aside, the self-driving car is probably his most well-known venture, so at the very least, we should be taking him seriously. And, given his and other futurologist’s concerns with what AI might one day be capable of, his thoughts on the direction in which humankind is travelling should be treated with just as much respect. But it’s the laws of unintended consequences that have a habit of biting us and I have reason to believe they’re about to.
What if Neuralink (or one of the many other companies with the same altruistic aims) didn’t just find a cure for dementia but for all brain disorders? I’m no neurologist but I know for a solution to be found, our (or AI’s) understanding of how the human brain works would have to increase and dramatically. Replacing damaged neurones and synapses is one thing, but recovering the lost thoughts of an Alzheimer’s patient quite another and I think the temptation, not to mention the revolution, of using ‘other’ thoughts as replacements, will be too great. Why? Money of course.
Dementia currently costs the UK £26.3 billion a year and the majority of that is care. Parking secondary medical conditions to one side, that figure would be wiped out virtually overnight if each sufferer were cognitively able to not just recognise their loved ones again, but to go about their lives as if the condition had never existed in the first place. Walk, talk, eat, love, laugh, communicate – everything we ‘normal’ people take for granted. Just imagine what the government would be able to do with the £26.3 billion of savings that would generate. Now imagine the pressure to turn that into £100 billion.
It wouldn’t take long. Once it becomes clear not just dementia but other brain diseases like autism or schizophrenia can finally be conquered, how long do you think it will be before the pressure to save money turns our leader’s thoughts to the minds of those deemed to be equally ‘sick’: Criminals. Aren’t prisons ‘correctional’ institutions anyway? Imagine – no more violence, no more rape, no more murder. Who could possibly object to that? And why stop there? How about ‘treating’ other threats to society – political extremists perhaps? Or even activists? In order to identify potential offenders, the government (or AI) would have to know what’s going on in our minds of course, but didn’t we just decide being able to use our phones by thought alone was a good thing?
Sound fanciful? Not if my experience is anything to go by I’m afraid. After thirty years of military service to my country, the government decided my mind was suffering and would benefit from a process called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. At the time I was happy to engage – anything to help relieve the stress I was under – but when it became clear the process aimed to ‘correct’ my thinking, well, let’s just say I got out quick.
Alec Birri is a dystopian novelist and commentator. The final part of his ‘Condition’ Trilogy is published by Matador on 16 August. For more information go to www.alecbirri.com
Thank you for stopping by to check out my stop on The Final Correction Blog Tour hosted by Bookollective. I appreciate the opportunity to promote such exciting and futuristic novels and I am looking forward to jumping into the series again in the near future. Thank you to everyone for their constant support, it is thanks to you that I can get the word out about great series like this to the book community. Until next time, Happy Reading!