Boy, did this book suck. I am wary now of any writer who claims to be writing “hard science fiction,” especially someone who feels compelled to put that in the title of their novel. It usually means they did their homework in regards to physics, chemistry, and astronomy, and everything else is FAIL. Their story world and characters show they have little grasp of sociology and psychology, their biology knowledge is half-researched, half hand-waved (non-sensical alien species, forex), and in the case of this story series, the artificial intelligence angle is complete FANTASY.
I don’t disagree that someday we might have very human-like and intelligent A.I.s, but you can’t hand-wave how they got that way. You need to give some plausible background DETAILS based on current trends in A.I. and cybernetics. Most especially if you are writing near-future sci-fi. Ignoring the explanation is what makes it fantasy, and bad fantasy at that, because at least fantasy writers follow clear ground rules in their stories regarding what is allowed and what isn’t.
Also? This author needs to jettison the audiobook narrator. He just makes trite material sound even more trite.