Review: Klara and the Sun Tackles AI Regulation

Kazuo Ishiguro's beautiful meditation on the parameters that constrain robots and humans alike


Joanna Andreasson/DALL-E4

The literal and figurative search for enlightenment by a solar-powered "Artificial Friend" drives the plot of Klara and the Sun, a 2021 novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. Purchased to serve as a companion to a fragile and isolated genetically augmented child, the robot Klara's autonomy and potential are limited by strict constraints on AI.

Klara's primitive, spontaneous sun worship and deep loyalty to her charge govern her choices in ways she only barely understands.

Over the course of the novel, it becomes clear that Klara is not alone—her humans are equally hemmed in by state, society, and their own fallibility.

The book's beautiful prose floats effortlessly over heavy questions of free will, epistemology, and faith.