‘Too Like the Lightning’: AI Governance and the Future We’re Building




As someone deeply invested in education, project management, and technology, I find Ada Palmer’s ‘Too Like the Lightning’ to be a must-read. This Hugo-nominated novel isn’t just a story; it’s a dialogue about the future of AI governance, something that resonates with my professional background and personal interests.

A Brief Bio of Ada Palmer

Ada Palmer isn’t just a novelist; she’s a historian and a scholar. Her deep understanding of societal structures and governance models offers a nuanced narrative that’s both compelling and educational.

Main Plot in Relation to AI

Set in a 25th-century utopia, or perhaps a dystopia, depending on your viewpoint, the book revolves around Mycroft Canner, a convict in the middle of a global crisis. AI here isn’t just a tool; it’s an integral part of governance, which I find incredibly relevant given my experience in project management and IT.

Main Characters, Factions, and Races

  • Mycroft Canner: Our guide through this complex world, a man of many shades.
  • Bridger: A young prodigy who can bring objects to life, symbolizing the untapped potential of human ingenuity.
  • J.E.D.D. Mason: A complex character who embodies AI governance’s ethical and philosophical dilemmas.

Factions and Races

  • Humanists: Advocates of human potential, something I deeply resonate with.
  • Utopians: The tech-optimists, often at odds with the Humanists.
  • Mitsubishi: A corporate giant, representing the influence of business in governance.

Impact and Relevance to Today’s World

As someone who loves discussing engineering, education, and technology, I see this book as a reflection of our current trajectory. It raises questions that we, as a society, must address sooner rather than later.

Sequels, Prequels, and Dramatizations

The ‘Terra Ignota’ series continues to delve deeper into these themes. While there’s no official dramatization, I can’t help but think how well this would translate into a thought-provoking TV series or film.

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Main Ideas and Themes

  • AI Governance: A critical examination that aligns with my project management and technology interests.
  • Ethical Dilemmas: Questions that we should all be asking as responsible citizens.
  • Human vs. Machine: A debate I often find myself in, given my diverse professional background.


‘Too Like the Lightning’ is not just a book; it’s a conversation starter. As we move towards an AI-driven future, this novel serves as a cautionary tale and a guidebook. It resonates with my goals of fostering global understanding and awareness, making it a must-read for anyone interested in the future of AI governance.

So, whether you’re into science fiction, technology, or governance models, this book has something for everyone. I’ll convert this article into a video script for a more in-depth discussion, so stay tuned!

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