In addition to writing, I’ve been speaking and consulting for almost twenty years. I’ve spoken about innovating inside corporations to a standing-room-only crowd at SXSW, and talked about the future of technology and artificial intelligence to a national assembly of CIOs and CTOs. I’ve helped entrepreneurs and venture capitalists think about technology trends, and helped founders figure out their biggest value-add and their ten year plan.

As someone who is future-oriented, and strategic and visionary in thinking, I can help you figure out a path forward, whether that’s a plan for how technology will change or impact you, or your own personal contributions as an individual.

Most often I do one or two day engagements, but I’m available for anything from a few hours to larger, custom consulting projects.

If you need assistance figuring out the future, I can help!

Reach out to me at william dot hertling at gmail dot com.

I was already concerned about the impact of technology on social connections. As I wrote about in Kill Process, there is an epidemic of loneliness in the world, and most especially in the US. But in the face of the global pandemic, our lives have been further irrevocably altered. The way we work, socialize, and even entertain ourselves has been reshaped by necessity.

The pandemic accelerated our reliance on technology, pushing us into an era where our screens became the windows to the world. Social media platforms became our town squares, our coffee shops, and our living rooms. We’ve seen a surge in the use of Zoom, Teams, and Slack for work, while Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Discord have become the go-to places for social interaction.

Yet, this shift has complexities that further exacerbate the dysfunctional trends that have been brewing for years. As we’ve moved our lives online, we’ve further substituted real human connection with digital interaction, leading to a sense of isolation and loneliness for many. The pandemic has amplified this effect, with social distancing measures making it harder for us to maintain our offline relationships, and indeed, even our skill at managing and maintaining those relationships.

We can see this in how the pandemic has created lasting changes in how we socialize. Making plans with others has become more challenging, with cancellations becoming increasingly common. Post-quarantine, there seems to be a growing reluctance to spend a lot of time texting, even among those who previously enjoyed this form of communication, leading to further isolation. One possible explanation for this shift could be a collective realization of the limitations of digital communication — the pandemic, by forcing us into isolation, may have made us more aware of the qualitative differences between online and offline interactions. But I think that misses the mark, personally. I think it’s more likely to be a subconscious resistance to pandemic behavior. Just as we were eager to get masks off and deny the horrors of quarantine and job loss and long Covid, so too, I think people wanted to leave behind texting.

That’s not to say that social media and messaging don’t have serious limitations. They do. Several years ago, I experienced this difference firsthand. I was grieving the end of a relationship and feeling a lot of distress. I reached out to friends for support via social media and text, engaging with many folks at length throughout the day. However, these interactions didn’t substantially change or improve my feelings. But when a friend came over in person for a short 45 minutes in the evening, my mood dramatically improved. I felt happy and connected, no longer sad or grieving. This experience underscored for me that a single in-person interaction, even of limited duration, can have a more profound impact on our emotional well-being than an entire day of digital messaging.

In my novel Kill Process, I delve into the world of Tomo, a fictional social media company, through the eyes of Angie, a data analyst. Angie’s experiences echo our current reality, highlighting the dangers of over-reliance on digital platforms. She grapples with the ethical implications of social media, particularly how it can be manipulated to control and influence users.

Since the publication of Kill Process in 2016, real-world events have further underscored these concerns. For instance, the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018 revealed how personal data from millions of Facebook users was harvested and used for political advertising, illustrating the potential for misuse of user data on social media platforms. More recently, the rise of deepfake technology has shown how social media can be used to spread misinformation and manipulate public opinion, a theme that resonates strongly with Angie’s journey. And even more recently, ChatGPT and other large language models have made us realize just how little we actually can trust, and how much can be faked.

The pandemic has brought these issues to the forefront, as we’ve become more dependent on these platforms for connection. Angie’s journey serves as a reminder that while technology can bring us together, it can also drive us apart if not used responsibly.

As we move forward, we must strive to find a balance between our online and offline lives, using technology to enhance our relationships rather than replace them. This has been the promise of social media for a long time, but we’ve failed so far. It’s up to us to figure out how to use this power responsibly to build a more connected and compassionate world, even in the face of adversity.

After a too-long hiatus, I am thrilled to return to writing.

From 2009 through 2018, I was deeply immersed in crafting narratives that explored the intersection of technology, society, and the human experience.

During those years, I was not just burning the candle at both ends, but throwing the entire candle into the fire. I was juggling a full-time job, a full-time writing career, parenting, moving multiple times, and maintaining a personal life. It was a whirlwind of creativity and chaos, a period of my life that was as rewarding as it was exhausting.

Despite the joy and fulfillment that writing brought me, it never quite earned me enough to quit my day job. And so, faced with the choice between continuing to overextend myself or seeking a better life balance, I chose the latter. I decided to keep the day job, stop writing, and focus on finding equilibrium in my life.

Now, after a period of rest and reflection, I am ready to return to writing. I’m excited to dive back into the creative process, to explore new ideas and revisit old ones. I am eager to reconnect with my readers, to share my thoughts and hear yours in return.

In addition to working on a new book, I will also be returning to blogging. I look forward to using this platform to share my thoughts on a range of topics, including reflections on technology and society as well as personal experiences and insights. I hope that these posts will spark conversations, inspire ideas, and build connections.

I am grateful for your patience during my hiatus and for your continued support as I embark on this new chapter of my writing journey. I look forward to sharing my writing with you once again.

When David Walton asked me to read a draft of his novel THREE LAWS LETHAL, I said yes without hesitation. The mixture of self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, and tech start-ups was obviously right up my alley.

I was even more delighted when I read the draft, and found a compelling, thoughtful, and philosophical science fiction thriller about what it means for AI to be alive. While reading I frequently stopped to screenshot passages I loved to send them back to David.

I’ve been waiting excitedly for this book to become available, and now it is. Buy a copy today — you’ll love it.

I asked David to write a guest post for my blog, which you’ll find below.

How might an AI develop consciousness?

It might be the most important question on the modern philosopher’s unanswered list, and it’s certainly the most fascinating. Will Hertling proposed one possible avenue in AVOGADRO CORP: through algorithms developed to improve human communication. In my new novel THREE LAWS LETHAL, I do it through self-driving cars.

We all know self-driving cars are coming; it’s just a matter of how many problems we manage to trip over on the way there. THREE LAWS LETHAL embraces this future in all of its glory: the life-and-death choices of the Trolley Problem, lawsuits and human fault, open source vs. copyright, the threat of hacking, and government regulation.  But all that is just a warm-up for the main event: the development of a conscious artificial mind.

How does a mind develop? The same way it always has: through evolution.

Naomi Sumner, programmer extraordinaire, creates a virtual world to train AIs. Those who perform well in the game world survive, allowing them to reproduce — spawn new AIs similar to themselves. As thousands of generations pass, the AIs not only become incredibly good at the self-driving game, they also develop some surprising emergent behavior, like circumventing the limits on their memory footprint.

They’re very smart, but still not conscious. A few more steps are required to reach that point, steps none of the characters anticipate or plan for. Ultimately, it is the training world itself that becomes self-aware, and all the AI actors inside it are merely elements of its psyche.

But every invention in history, sooner or later, is turned into a weapon. UAVs, drones, and missiles can benefit from self-driving technology as well, especially when trained through war-simulation game play. So what happens when part of this infant conscious mind is partitioned off and trained to kill?

You’ll have to read THREE LAWS LETHAL to find out…

David Walton is a software engineer with Lockheed Martin by day and the father of eight children by night. Since he doesn’t have time to write novels, he trained a world full of AIs to do it for him.

In 2009, in the springtime, I had the idea for Avogadro Corp. I was busy that year, trying to launch a small side project. It wasn’t until December that I had any time to pursue writing, and thanks to a change in the vacation policy of my company, I ended up taking off the entire month of December. I wrote the first draft of Avogadro Corp, finishing it at 11:50pm on New Year’s Eve. It wasn’t published until two years later: December of 2011.

Ten years and 50,000+ copies later, I still consider this book to be the accomplishment I’m most proud of. It’s led to countless opportunities, including multiple appearances on national radio, speaking at dozens of conferences, getting to know many luminaries in the tech and writing worlds, new friends, and along with the rest of my books, it even enabled me to buy my home.

And on top of all that, I still think it’s a really great story.

Avogadro Corp. Why not buy a copy for a friend? 

I’ll be at the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder, Colorado next week, from April 9th to 13th. I’ll be speaking on topics including artificial intelligence, social media, data ownership and privacy, writing science fiction, and the role of science fiction in technological progress.

If you’ll be at CWA or in Boulder, and would like to meet up, chat, or get a book signed, please reach out to me. You can find me on twitter as @hertling, or by email at william dot hertling at gmail dot com.


I’ve always been one of those writers who pays careful attention to reviews of my books. It comes at an emotional cost — it’s never easy to read a very critical review. But I believe the feedback is useful both from a writing perspective as well as the impact on sales. I did a second proofreading pass on Avogadro Corp in response to reviews, and then years later even did a full rewrite, and both revisions saw an increase in the average rating and an increase in the sell-through rate to the sequel. Although I think of writing as an art, it’s an art that helps pay the bills, and I like that. It’s good business to pay attention to your customers (in this case, readers) and what they want.

I knew that Kill Switch would be different because I was writing about topics that would alienate some of my core fans: relationships, sexuality, polyamory, kink, and homosexuality. As I wrote about in the afterword, I chose those topics with intention. In part, I wanted to destigmatize those topics by writing about them in an accurate, non-titillating way, to help out people who are currently marginalized. I wanted to challenge readers to think about and possibly accept people that they might not otherwise. And most importantly, and core to the kinds of topics I normally write about, I wanted to draw connections between privacy, risk, and personal freedom, and those topics made for a rich way to explore those threads.

I expected some readers would object, and they did. Sometimes those objections came with direct honesty, such as the person who messaged me that they were an older white male and didn’t want to read about lesbians having sex. Other reviews and messages said that the first half of the book was a little slow and bogged down with relationship and sexual stuff, but that the second half of the book was very fast paced — which I think is a fair and legitimate observation. Many of those latter readers remarked that they were glad they finished, and they ultimately saw the connections I was trying to draw.

But recently there have been several reviews and messages from people saying they didn’t enjoy the book, and it wasn’t the polyamory, kink, or lesbians they were objecting to, but that the book was about relationships. They wanted a technothriller and didn’t feel that Kill Switch delivered on that promise. A few even said they wanted their money back. To me, this feedback feels a lot more critical. If I under-delivered on the story and the tech, that’s an issue I would want to address. I’d also be pretty disappointed in myself if I failed to deliver on that.

I decided to investigate what portion of the book was spent on the tech plot versus the relationships and kink. I went through the chapters, categorizing each as a relationship/kink chapter or a tech chapter or mixed, and listing the word count. The mixed chapters tended to be mostly tech rather than relationship, but for the sake of simplicity, I counted them as 50% tech and 50% relationship, and divided up the word count.

What I found is that there are 105,000 words of tech plot line, and 33,700 of relationship/kink. That breaks down to 76% tech, and 24% relationship/kink. The first half of the book is heavy on relationship stuff (64% tech to 36% relationship), whereas the second half of the book is overwhelming tech (92% tech to 8% relationship.) Further breaking down the relationship/kink/sex scenes, it turns out to be 22,000 words on relationships and 11,700 words on BDSM play (e.g. 16% of the book is about relationships, and 9% about sex.)

Breakdown of word count by topic in Kill Switch

If I was to make a change based solely on those reviews, it would be to cut the amount of relationship/kink in the first third of the book, which is where I’m guessing people are getting bogged down. In the back of my mind, I started to think about making another editing pass, thinning out those topics, even though it might weaken some of the points I was trying to get across. But then I made a surprising discovery…

There’s a very significant bias depending on where the reviews are posted!

  • On Amazon, Kill Switch appears to be deeply polarizing: there are 22 reviews, with 59% being positive (5 stars), and 41% being negative (1 or 2 stars). There is no middle ground: there are no 3 or 4 star reviews.
  • On Goodreads, where there are 62 ratings, there are 76% positive reviews (4 or 5 stars), 17% neutral reviews (3 stars), and only 4% negative reviews (1 or 2). These ratings are very similar to Kill Process, which is 79% positive and 4% negative.

If the writing and story in Kill Switch were deeply flawed, I think I’d see reviews on Goodreads that were more closely aligned with what’s on Amazon. Readers want a good story, and they aren’t going to give good reviews if the story is missing. Based on the word count analysis, I think that story is there: there’s 105,000 words of solid tech plot line. By comparison, my first two novels were under 80,000 words, which means that Kill Switch delivers 25% more tech than those first books.

My working assumption at this point is that a portion of the people who gave negative reviews to Kill Switch were in fact struggling with their acceptance of the more controversial poly/kink/homosexuality topics (whether they were aware of it or not), and they may have couched those feelings in more neutral ways by talking about relationships vs tech plot.

Although I find those negative reviews on Amazon very discouraging, at this time I’m inclined to just leave the book be and hope that eventually it finds an audience on Amazon that resonates more strongly with it, as it clearly has on Goodreads.

In the meantime, there have been some reviewers that have really enjoyed Kill Switch and believe it’s the best novel yet. I really appreciate your encouragement, which makes all the work of writing worthwhile! Thank you so much.

Kill Switch has trickled its way through bookseller’s databases is now fully available. You can buy Kill Switch in the following places:

You can also check out the complete list of where to buy all my books.

Like most of my other books, Kill Switch is designed so that it can be read as a standalone novel. That being said, you’ll get even more out of it if you’ve read the prequel, Kill Process.

I hope you enjoy Kill Switch — and if you do, I hope you’ll tell folks about it!

Kill Switch is here!

Kill Switch is available! Buy it today:

Amazon Kindle



Apple Books

Barnes and Noble

Kill Switch Description

Igloo and Angie are the co-founders of a new social network, Tapestry, based on the principles of privacy and data ownership. Two years later, with Tapestry poised to become the world’s largest social network, their rapid growth puts them under government scrutiny.

Tapestry’s privacy and security is so effective that it impedes the government’s ability to monitor routine communications. Fearing Tapestry will spread to encompass the whole of the Internet, threatening America’s surveillance abilities around the globe, the government swoops in to stop Angie and company — by any means possible.

Under the constant threat of exposure — of Angie’s criminal past, of Igloo’s secret life in the underground kink scene, and of their actions to subvert a FISA court order — they must hatch a plan to ensure the success of Tapestry no matter what pressures the government brings to bear.

Not knowing whom to trust, or if they can even trust each other, Igloo and Angie must risk everything in the ultimate battle for control of the Internet.

I have good news about the Kill Switch release!

It’s been two years since Kill Process was released. Kill Switch was a daunting book to write. It’s 20% longer than Kill Process, which, when it was released, was the longest novel I’d written by far. Kill Switch also tackles new topics that required more research and finesse to handle properly. And while writing this novel, I also bought a house, moved, tackled house projects, switched roles at my day job, and more.

So it is with both excitement and relief that I’m thrilled to finally announce that Kill Switch will be released in October. The proofreading is done. The final formatting is done. The audiobook is nearly complete. The cover design is done. I will have a firm launch date within a week or two.

As usual, Patreon backers will be the first to receive Kill Switch, and they should receive their ebooks the first weekend in October, and the paperback prior to the official launch.

Thank you so much for your patience! I’m delighted to get Kill Switch into everyone’s hands.

The new cover was designed by Jenn Reese, who did a wonderful job. Thank you Jenn!

Kill Switch by William Hertling

Kill Switch Cover