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The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity

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“The Fourth Age not only discusses what the rise of A.I. will mean for us, it also forces readers to challenge their preconceptions. And it manages to do all this in a way that is both entertaining and engaging.” —The New York Times As we approach a great turning point in history when technology is poised to redefine what it means to be human, The Fourth Age offers fascina “The Fourth Age not only discusses what the rise of A.I. will mean for us, it also forces readers to challenge their preconceptions. And it manages to do all this in a way that is both entertaining and engaging.” —The New York Times As we approach a great turning point in history when technology is poised to redefine what it means to be human, The Fourth Age offers fascinating insight into AI, robotics, and their extraordinary implications for our species. In The Fourth Age, Byron Reese makes the case that technology has reshaped humanity just three times in history: - 100,000 years ago, we harnessed fire, which led to language. - 10,000 years ago, we developed agriculture, which led to cities and warfare. - 5,000 years ago, we invented the wheel and writing, which lead to the nation state. We are now on the doorstep of a fourth change brought about by two technologies: AI and robotics. The Fourth Age provides extraordinary background information on how we got to this point, and how—rather than what—we should think about the topics we’ll soon all be facing: machine consciousness, automation, employment, creative computers, radical life extension, artificial life, AI ethics, the future of warfare, superintelligence, and the implications of extreme prosperity. By asking questions like “Are you a machine?” and “Could a computer feel anything?”, Reese leads you through a discussion along the cutting edge in robotics and AI, and, provides a framework by which we can all understand, discuss, and act on the issues of the Fourth Age, and how they’ll transform humanity.


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“The Fourth Age not only discusses what the rise of A.I. will mean for us, it also forces readers to challenge their preconceptions. And it manages to do all this in a way that is both entertaining and engaging.” —The New York Times As we approach a great turning point in history when technology is poised to redefine what it means to be human, The Fourth Age offers fascina “The Fourth Age not only discusses what the rise of A.I. will mean for us, it also forces readers to challenge their preconceptions. And it manages to do all this in a way that is both entertaining and engaging.” —The New York Times As we approach a great turning point in history when technology is poised to redefine what it means to be human, The Fourth Age offers fascinating insight into AI, robotics, and their extraordinary implications for our species. In The Fourth Age, Byron Reese makes the case that technology has reshaped humanity just three times in history: - 100,000 years ago, we harnessed fire, which led to language. - 10,000 years ago, we developed agriculture, which led to cities and warfare. - 5,000 years ago, we invented the wheel and writing, which lead to the nation state. We are now on the doorstep of a fourth change brought about by two technologies: AI and robotics. The Fourth Age provides extraordinary background information on how we got to this point, and how—rather than what—we should think about the topics we’ll soon all be facing: machine consciousness, automation, employment, creative computers, radical life extension, artificial life, AI ethics, the future of warfare, superintelligence, and the implications of extreme prosperity. By asking questions like “Are you a machine?” and “Could a computer feel anything?”, Reese leads you through a discussion along the cutting edge in robotics and AI, and, provides a framework by which we can all understand, discuss, and act on the issues of the Fourth Age, and how they’ll transform humanity.

30 review for The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jolanta (knygupe)

    1.5* I need to be more selective...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alisa Wilhelm

    Soooo interesting. This book isn’t so much about the technical aspects of AI and robotics; it’s much more about applied philosophy and what we believe about the essence of humanity, consciousness, and intelligence. If you are writing some speculative fiction, this book is chock full of ideas for you.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Edward Smith

    Excellent Read. The focus of his book is around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and more specifically around AGI -Artificial General Intelligence i.e the ability of Computers to Learn, to apply existing knowledge to new unique scenarios and to derive a new resolution not previously known to them. The author has an inkling we will get there at some point but the answer is not around the corner as some believe. One of the biggest hurdles we face is that while we know a lot about the brain on a physic Excellent Read. The focus of his book is around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and more specifically around AGI -Artificial General Intelligence i.e the ability of Computers to Learn, to apply existing knowledge to new unique scenarios and to derive a new resolution not previously known to them. The author has an inkling we will get there at some point but the answer is not around the corner as some believe. One of the biggest hurdles we face is that while we know a lot about the brain on a physical level we do not really have a true understanding of how the Mind works, how do we store information, how do we recall it, how do we apply what we know. He posits that it is hard to create a machine to duplicate something we can not define. The book is part science and part philosophy and tries to address the issue of who we think we are. Having worked with some early AI, Big Data type applications, I found the book fascinating. Be Forewarned: I am looking forward to boring some of my friends at the next party.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Izabela Kańtoch

    It is a nice book to read if you want to have understanding what are concerns related do further AI development. There are multiple well-asked questions, that encourage the contemplation. However it's not the life-changing book, or if a reader already has some knowledge about the topic, they won't find much new information in it. It is a nice book to read if you want to have understanding what are concerns related do further AI development. There are multiple well-asked questions, that encourage the contemplation. However it's not the life-changing book, or if a reader already has some knowledge about the topic, they won't find much new information in it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paul Cumbo

    Compelling, terrifying, and ironically optimistic, all at once.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    A very thought-provoking book about AI and how technology will impact humanity in the future. Reese's approach to the subject is optimistic, humorous, and very readable. The history of humanity's relationship with technology is absolutely fascinating, and helps put the current tech into perspective. Whether you're deeply immersed in the world of technology or new to the subject and just a bit curious, I highly recommend this book. A very thought-provoking book about AI and how technology will impact humanity in the future. Reese's approach to the subject is optimistic, humorous, and very readable. The history of humanity's relationship with technology is absolutely fascinating, and helps put the current tech into perspective. Whether you're deeply immersed in the world of technology or new to the subject and just a bit curious, I highly recommend this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    This book was awesome. Very philosophical, but not very opinionated. I appreciate when an author can present a deep and developed exploration of ideas without inserting himself into it. This book is a great intro to the philosophy behind AI and the future of work, especially as we stand on the precipice of the 4th Industrial Revolution, defined by machine learning and AI. I highly recommend reading this book, but if you don't want to, here are my overly-detailed notes: In the last 100,000 years, This book was awesome. Very philosophical, but not very opinionated. I appreciate when an author can present a deep and developed exploration of ideas without inserting himself into it. This book is a great intro to the philosophy behind AI and the future of work, especially as we stand on the precipice of the 4th Industrial Revolution, defined by machine learning and AI. I highly recommend reading this book, but if you don't want to, here are my overly-detailed notes: In the last 100,000 years, we've had only three massive changes that changed humanity as a whole: 100,000 years ago, we harnessed fire, which led to language (cooked meat = better health/more nutrients/developed brains) 10,000 years ago, we developed agriculture, which led to cities and warfare (ability to settle = sense of home and need to protect it and develop sense of community; new work unrelated to nomadic life developed, including science/study of literal home land and religion/philosophy) 5,000 years ago, we invented the wheel and writing, which led to the nation state (literacy = laws, reference docs, ability to widely share and preserve knowledge, but also a drop in the efficiency of collective human memory) Each of these ages was caused by massive, widespread, major advancements in technology - not just one piece of tech, but the whole system of usable tech of the day. Now, we are on the precipice of a fourth age, dominated by the exponentially expanding capabilities of computerized tech, especially AI and machine learning. But the questions still remain - what is the possible capacity of AI? Will robots take over our jobs and eliminate work, poverty, war, etc? Three philosophical questions, mental exercises for centuries, will now define the 4th Age and help determine what AI will be capable of: 1. What is the composition of the universe? This will help us know if true AI is possible. One theory is that everything is made of one basic substance (atoms). Monism purports that the only reality is the Void and Atoms. Another theory us that there are more things (dualism) - the world is made of atoms and *more*. This includes religion (physical/spiritual), but also mental (physical/mental), positing that ideas come from outside the world of physics. This is the difference between knowing everything about color but living in a grey room, then going outside to the world. Did you learn something new? Yes = dualism. This has a profound effect on what might be possible for AI, because DesCartes' I think/I doubt, therefore I am posts that our mental being is what makes us human. Traditional argument against dualism: If there is a world of physical things and a separate world of mental things, how do they interact? I am a dualist. 2. What are we - machine, animal, or human? Machines - all body functions are systemic, and the brain runs similarly. It can be duplicated, if we can figure out how it works. Animals - maybe our bodies are machines, but we are something more, what we call "alive" beings that inhabit those machines. Humans - not just in name, but we have something more that makes us so. Of course our bodies are machines and we are "alive" like animals, but there is something fundamentally different about us - having a soul or consciousness, making/using complex tools or language, ability to reason, laugh, feel, experience. I want to thing we fall into the third category, but my opinion is unclear... If this is true, we couldn't ever achieve AGI, let alone ASI. Or could we? I guess I'll find out the thoughts on this later in the book... 3. What is your "self"? Is it your brain? Your heart? Your "gut"? Your cells are constantly being replaced, so your cellular structure is not the same as it was a decade ago, but your "self" is still the same, right? If we are our mind, is someone still their same "self" if they get amnesia or dementia? Three options - trick of your brain (clever solution to replacement - the ability to switch focus, controlled by a center control system), a higher conceptual "emergent mind" (with emergence, a group of things interact and through interaction, the whole gains characteristics that no individual has. All cells of a human work together to create the human, as a basic form of emergence, and no part is "in charge" - they all just work together), or a "soul" (religious beliefs overwhelm this view, the soul exists in a higher, non-scientific plane). It is not necessary for each to exist alone, but which one of them is "you"? We can get a machine to do one thing over and over, but can't get it to do more complex things. A machine can't achieve "consciousness" which is a human function. A machine can't do the things an average person learns in their first decade... And we don't know how to teach it to them. A machine thinks in algorithms. It can't recognize beyond very literal programming. It can't do "transfer learning" where it takes a piece of information and applies it to a similar idea. This means two things: one, the more specialized a person's work is, the more likely they can be replaced by a machine; and two, while humans can make a million minor mistakes and correct for them, a machine might experience catastrophic failure if just one bit of code is off (and the same goes for that which each produces - a book doesn't lose it's meaning if it's missing a word or two, but a machine-generated program is garbage if it's missing a single character). 3 options: 1) machines will take ALL jobs, and work will end. Probably resonantes with those who believe we are machines and the self is the brain - a monist POV. As machines become more advanced, the skills needed to operate them become more advanced, and the point is soon reached when it isn't feasible to keep the person in the job and turn it over directly to a machine. If this is reached, eventually the machine will do the job better than we ever could. This stance requires us to assume we are machines, we can eventually build one and it will eventually learn the full range of human functionality, it will do all of our dirty work and we can force it to do that work whether it wants to or not, and that it will be economically viable to build it AND to replace human workers with it, and that humans won't be able to find new jobs that can't be done by machines. 2) robots & ai will take some jobs - the machines will take over most retail/delivery and some professional jobs, and displace others, but will not take over arts jobs or certain highly skilled positions like CEOs. Majority of people will still work, but there won't be enough work for everyone. This might resonate with dualists, who believe there is something "more" than machine functions that makes a human, so it will be impossible to recreate in a machine. But they believe it is possible for tech to still take most jobs - leaving only very human and low-paying jobs to the humans (priest, cop), resulting in a permanent depression. Five assumptions: machines and technologies cause a net loss of jobs, too many jobs will be destroyed too quickly, low skill workers will be the first to go, and there won't be enough jobs for them in the future. 3) robots will take no jobs. There won't be a lack of work for most people. This is based mostly on the idea that humans have something beyond what makes a machine and animal. Whenever a robot eliminates certain jobs, it also creates other jobs. The balance is maintained. People save money and time when the low-end jobs are replaced, and they spend that time and money in new exciting places, demanding new jobs. This is called tech disruption: new jobs are created at the top, and everyone gets a promotion. But... would we still work if we didn't have to? Yes. If tech makes it possible to do what used to take 40 hours in 15, we would still work 40 hours. Compounding economic growth. We also may not find enjoyment in permanent leisure. And additionally, we always want to improve our standard of living. What were once luxuries are now considered necessities. The second half of the book gets even more philosophical, going into what an Artificial General Intelligence ("AGI" is true AI, the achievement of the Singularity, when machines reach human intelligence). This goes way beyond the immediate practicalities of the future of work or whether robots will take jobs. So can we achieve true AGI? And if so, SHOULD we? Sapient: intelligent Sentient: sensing but not intelligent Conscious: aware AGI: the moment when a computer becomes as intelligent as a human. Does this mean it will be as smart as the lowest level of intelligence needed to be called a human? Does it need to be sentient? Sapient? Does it mean it will gain consciousness? Then what exactly is consciousness if it can be installed in a machine? (Or, again, are we only machines?) There are 8 main theories about how machine consciousness might happen: 1) Weak Emergence: (Kurzweil believes a machine with true AGI would have the same emergent consciousness of a human...) Weak emergence is a (real, accepted concept) when the results of two things interacting is unexpected but explainable, even if we understand the two things. If human consciousness is a weak emergent property (that's the theory), we can easily achieve it, and upload our minds. 2) Strong Emergence: may not exist, and it's proponents argue human consciousness is the only occurrence of it. This theory relies on inexplicable, circular logic - the thing exists because it exists - or, more likely, information we do not yet have or understand. There is a break in physics and the thing consists of more than the sum of it's parts. 3) Physical Property of Matter: we will eventually understand and recreate consciousness as a matter of physics, as our understanding of physics grows. 4) Quantum Phenomenon: a variant on the above, it theorizes that human consciousness doesn't run on rules (algorithms) and can't be duplicated by a machine. This theory can't explain what consciousness is or where it comes from, and it is unknown if a machine could achieve it. It definitely means we can't upload our selves. 5) Fundamental Force of the Universe: physics explains everything, and physics is built on fundamentals. This theory puts forth consciousness as one of those fundamentals. It is unknown if this theory leads to the ability to reproduce consciousness or upload existing consciousness. 6) Consciousness is Universal: all living things have some level of consciousness - even bacteria and the cosmos have some level of it. Integrated information theory - "phi" is in all things; even a proton contained data. If this is true, there is no reason why you couldn't transfer your consciousness into a machine. 7) A Trick of the Brain:basic brain functions project the perceptions we call consciousness. Easily re-creatable, once we understand how the brain works. 8) Something Spiritual: can't ever be recreated or uploaded. Most agree that a truly standalone AGI isn't necessarily a great a idea. (Not to even go into Artificial Super intelligence, "ASI," when the machines outstrip our intelligence and humans become the second most powerful beings on Earth - where either we enslave it or it enslaves us). Many believe we're too far along in the process to ensure a benevolent AGI, and it would purely do what it sees as the best option (probably to our detriment). The best option, shown time and again, is a human-computer hybrid. While I think the best interpretation of that is a human and a computer working together as a team, experts way smarter than me think it might actually be Android future. So that begs the question: can computers be implanted into human brains? Some say no, brains are too soft and mushy, so it's probably not biologically feasible. But if we haven't figured out how to make it happen, that probably means more than just the programming isn't yet available, but the hardware too. If we can figure out this advanced level of machine consciousness or human-machine Android intelligence, we can probably eliminate world hunger, poverty, war, disease, and possibly even extend human lifespans to ridiculous timelines. I am still left wondering whether we should attempt all of this, or the far-off goals of AI developers are realistic, but at the same time, it leaves me very optimistic for a productive and prosperous near future as machines play a bigger role in our work and lives, increasing our ability to do more and live healthier and safer lives.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laurence

    I've read a couple of books about some of these topics, so not much of this is new to me. But, it has been a couple of years since my last book in this vein, so this is a decent refresher rather than an unwelcome retread. The tone is light, so it reads like a large web magazine article. I've read a couple of books about some of these topics, so not much of this is new to me. But, it has been a couple of years since my last book in this vein, so this is a decent refresher rather than an unwelcome retread. The tone is light, so it reads like a large web magazine article.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sheng Zeng

    A philosophical take on the role of technology and AI in our current digital world. It raises interesting ideas but can be a bit too optimistic for my liking.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Martti

    This one analyzes the AI and the near future in a more positive light, providing reasonable arguments. Another one from Bill Gates' list for the year and another one to re-read because of the density. A lot to digest and ponder upon. In the last 100,000 years, we've had only three massive changes that changed humanity as a whole: 100,000 years ago, we harnessed fire, which led to language (cooked meat = better health/more nutrients/developed brains) 10,000 years ago, we developed agriculture, which This one analyzes the AI and the near future in a more positive light, providing reasonable arguments. Another one from Bill Gates' list for the year and another one to re-read because of the density. A lot to digest and ponder upon. In the last 100,000 years, we've had only three massive changes that changed humanity as a whole: 100,000 years ago, we harnessed fire, which led to language (cooked meat = better health/more nutrients/developed brains) 10,000 years ago, we developed agriculture, which led to cities and warfare (ability to settle = sense of home and need to protect it and develop sense of community; new work unrelated to nomadic life developed, including science/study of literal home land and religion/philosophy) 5,000 years ago, we invented the wheel and writing, which led to the nation state (literacy = laws, reference docs, ability to widely share and preserve knowledge, but also a drop in the efficiency of collective human memory) Each of these ages was caused by massive, widespread, major advancements in technology - not just one piece of tech, but the whole system of usable tech of the day. Now, we are on the precipice of a fourth age, dominated by the exponentially expanding capabilities of computerized tech, especially AI and machine learning. But the questions still remain - what is the possible capacity of AI? Will robots take over our jobs and eliminate work, poverty, war, etc? Some quick fun pieces: --------- The only reason we use a person to shingle a roof is not because all that person can do is to shingle a roof, but because we haven’t invented a machine to shingle that roof. So while that roofer may have it in himself to manage twenty workers and come up with an aggressive plan for growth, well, the roof needs shingling and no one has built a machine to do so.When 90 percent of people farmed, the 10 percent that didn’t undoubtedly looked on the 90 percent as capable of little else. The idea that those very people could become lab techs, marketing directors, and ice sculptors would have struck them as ludicrous. “They are just plain farmers” would have been their retort.They farmed because we needed farmers, not because that was all they could do. And I believe firmly that a great part of the workforce needs to be liberated from the drudgery of doing the work a machine can do. An AGI could then create ever better versions of itself at the speed of light, while humans can improve only at the speed of life. In mere hours an AGI might evolve itself, from our perspective, from “smart two-year-old” to “all-powerful alien life-form,” at which point it would have become what we today term a superintelligence, and it would be beyond our understanding. THE STORY OF JOHN FRUM In the Pacific, near Australia, is an area known as Melanesia, which consists of four countries: Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji, as well as some smaller islands. These nations were in the crossroads of the Pacific theater of World War II. As a result of their interaction with the American military, a strange sociological phenomenon occurred that came to be called cargo cults.The indigenous people of these islands would see an American force land, clear some ground for a runway, and build an observation tower. Then the islanders would gaze with awe as planes would arrive from the sky, land on the runways, and offload enormous amounts of cargo. Often the military would share with the islanders some of the bounty, including canned food and manufactured goods.Thus were born the cargo cults. The local people would clear their own runways and erect their own towers, but from bamboo. Lacking a radio, they might fashion a box that resembled out of coconuts. They didn’t have lights to guide planes in, so they would plant bamboo along the runway. Using wood for guns, they would perform military drills the way they had seen the Americans do it, often in costumes designed to look like US military uniforms. Occasionally they would even build full-size planes out of straw in the hopes they would attract other planes. They did everything the Americans did. But oddly, the planes never landed and the cargo never arrived.Even today, a group in Vanuatu worships John Frum, an idealized American serviceman from World War II. Each February 15, they hold a parade honoring him and the belief that he will return some day with cargo for everyone. The philosopher Daniel C. Dennett suggests consciousness might have come about due to the tension between competition and cooperation. Deciding whether to cooperate or compete with someone might be the seed of consciousness. He says, “You can’t have language without the possibility of using it to fool people. But also you can’t have language without the capacity for cooperation. When you put the two together, consciousness is right there waiting in the wings.”When did it come about? As you have probably guessed, we don’t know that either. There is one speculative theory, however, that is worth mentioning. Julian Jaynes wrote a fascinating book in 1976 called The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Jaynes believed that as recently as three thousand years ago, humans weren’t conscious. Instead of being an integrated whole, the two halves of our brain each behaved somewhat independently. One was the commanding half, which would tell the other half what to do. This phenomenon was experienced by the person as a commanding voice. We were all, in effect, schizophrenics. Just as some schizophrenics experience “command hallucinations,” our entire existence was governed by commands we received from our right brain, which was reasoning based on our experiences.Such a brain, according to Jaynes, would not have subjective consciousness, nor would it have the ability to introspect. In support of his theory, he cites ancient literature such as The Iliad in which the characters seem to have an absence of introspection. He also uses this theory to explain why people of this era felt they were in direct and audible communion with the gods. They would have experienced the commands of their right brain as commands from the deities. That is why ancient literature is chock-full of people yakking away with the divinities. As the bicameral mind broke down, consciousness emerged, as did the rise of prayer and divination, which Jaynes understands as humanity’s response to the voices of the gods vanishing. Greeks in the time of Socrates, who were fully conscious, recognized there was a time just a few centuries earlier when the gods regularly communed with men, but that time had ended, and the gods could be accessed only through oracles from that point on.True or not, it is an interesting theory, and one that Richard Dawkins described as “either complete rubbish or a work of consummate genius, nothing in between.” We began our story when we mastered fire, our first real technology. Because of that, something entirely unexpected happened, something that we could never have understood at the time: we got language. From there we built cities and cultivated food, developed writing, and invented civilization. All along the way, we tamed our inner savage, or at least learned to keep him at bay. But our best intentions were limited by scarcity. There just wasn’t enough of the good things. Not enough food, not enough medicine. Not enough education. But we learned a powerful trick: technology, which can be used to overcome scarcity and can empower a human to move a mountain.That is where we stand right now: at the beginning of a great new age, the Fourth Age, which is giving us amazing new powers that we can use to better the lives of everyone on the planet. This is in our collective best interest, for if all people sleep peaceably in their own bed at night, if everyone has good health and real opportunity, then the social problems we struggle with, the last vestiges of our savagery and greed, will gradually vanish.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Charlie White

    There have been a lot of books written recently about artificial intelligence (AI) and the upcoming age of smart robots equipped with artificial general intelligence (AGI). This book offers an excellent platform from which to start diving into this promising and fascinating technology. What I like most about this book, and why I’m giving it this five-star review, is that it takes an optimistic view of the future of artificial intelligence without pulling any punches. Its author, Byron Reese, has There have been a lot of books written recently about artificial intelligence (AI) and the upcoming age of smart robots equipped with artificial general intelligence (AGI). This book offers an excellent platform from which to start diving into this promising and fascinating technology. What I like most about this book, and why I’m giving it this five-star review, is that it takes an optimistic view of the future of artificial intelligence without pulling any punches. Its author, Byron Reese, has high hopes for the future, and he writes about the years ahead in an entertaining way that is so well researched that there are new facts I’ve never even considered on every page. At the same time, he gives a nod to some of my favorite authors on this topic, including Yuval Noah Harari, Stephen Pinker, and even mentions Elon Musk several times. One aspect of writing about the future that few others do as well is adding context, digging into what’s already happened, and showing how the past is often prologue, often pointing to events and failures in the future. Best of all, this book is clever and entertaining at every turn. I simply loved it, and I’m going to recommend it to all my friends and colleagues who like to talk about artificial intelligence and its future role in our society. Many of us are wondering exactly where our civilization is going. If you’re one of us and are looking to gain understanding of such things, this book will give you a powerful head start.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alicea

    The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity by Byron Reese could have been really good if only it wasn't riddled with so many grammatical errors. :'-( Repeated words, completely missing words, and words in the wrong order (was this down to the editor?) were liberally spread through the entire book which really took away from my enjoyment. I felt that what he was trying to accomplish with this book was interesting but I'm not entirely sure that he accomplished hi The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity by Byron Reese could have been really good if only it wasn't riddled with so many grammatical errors. :'-( Repeated words, completely missing words, and words in the wrong order (was this down to the editor?) were liberally spread through the entire book which really took away from my enjoyment. I felt that what he was trying to accomplish with this book was interesting but I'm not entirely sure that he accomplished his goal (and he certainly needs to do a more thorough job of editing). This was less a purely scientific look at artificial intelligence and more a philosophical one about the nature of consciousness and if it's even remotely possible to duplicate it in a computer matrix. As with philosophical books, there were more questions raised than answers proposed. For all of the books on AI that I've read this one rests at the bottom and you'd be better served reading something along the lines of In Our Own Image by George Zarkadakis for a well-executed and researched work on the subject. Additionally, major points taken off for a lack of a bibliography. I have no idea how you can reference so many other people's work and then give them absolutely no credit. 2/10

  13. 4 out of 5

    Grady

    ‘Deconstructing the core beliefs that undergird the various views on robots, jobs, AI, and consciousness.’ Texas Entrepreneur/speaker/author Byron Reese is the CEO and Publisher of Gigaom, one of the world’s leading technology research companies, and regularly writes at Gigaom Publisher’s Corner. He brings his experience as a technologist, his passion for history, and his proven business acumen to illuminate how today’s technology can solve many of our biggest global challenges. According to Byro ‘Deconstructing the core beliefs that undergird the various views on robots, jobs, AI, and consciousness.’ Texas Entrepreneur/speaker/author Byron Reese is the CEO and Publisher of Gigaom, one of the world’s leading technology research companies, and regularly writes at Gigaom Publisher’s Corner. He brings his experience as a technologist, his passion for history, and his proven business acumen to illuminate how today’s technology can solve many of our biggest global challenges. According to Byron, “Technology is empowering. It augments us. And yet today, many are being told they should fear technology. In my writing, I reject that and offer a different narrative, of how technology can bring about a peaceful and prosperous world for all.” Byron’s other book is “Infinite Progress: How Technology and the Internet Will End Ignorance, Disease, Hunger, Poverty, and War.” This book is not only timely: it is desperately needed as a resource to come to grips with where we find ourselves now and in the not too distant future. Many fear the invasion of privacy brought about by ‘social media’, fake news, government officials manipulating our minds into control of choices, the dangers of artificial intelligence, robotics in cars/medicine/commerce etc. It takes a mine such as Byron Reese to address this new age and assuage our anxiety – and prove that we are growing up! Or as Byron states in his Preface, ‘Robots. Jobs. Automation. Artificial intelligence. Conscious computers. Superintelligence. Abundance. A jobless future. “Useless” humans. The end of scarcity. Creative computers. Robot overlords. Unlimited wealth. The end of work. A permanent underclass. Some of these phrases and concepts probably show up in your news feed every day. Sometimes the narratives are positive, full of hope for the future. Other times they are fearful and dystopian. And this dichotomy is puzzling. The experts on these various topics, all intelligent and informed people, make predictions about the future that are not just a little different, but that are dramatically different and diametrically opposed to each other. So, why do Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates fear artificial intelligence (AI) and express concern that it may be a threat to humanity’s survival in the near future? And yet, why do an equally illustrious group, including Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Ng, and Pedro Domingos, find this viewpoint so farfetched as to be hardly even worth a rebuttal? Zuckerberg goes so far as to call people who peddle doomsday scenarios “pretty irresponsible,” while Andrew Ng, one of the greatest minds in AI alive today, says that such concerns are like worrying about “overpopulation on Mars.” After Elon Musk was quoted as saying “AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization,” Pedro Domingos, a leading AI researcher and author, tweeted, “One word: Sigh.” Each group’s members are as confident in their position as they are scornful of the other side. With respect to robots and automation, the situation is the same. The experts couldn’t be further apart. Some say that all jobs will be lost to automation, or at the very least that we are about to enter a permanent Great Depression in which one part of the workforce will be unable to compete with robotic labor while the other part will live lavish lives of plenty with their high-tech futuristic jobs. Others roll their eyes at these concerns and point to automation’s long track record of raising workers’ productivity and wages, and speculate that a bigger problem will be a shortage of human laborers. While fistfights are uncommon between these groups, there is condescending invective aplenty. Finally, when considering the question of whether computers will become conscious and therefore alive, the experts disagree yet again….’ The synopsis of this book is reassuring – ‘As we approach a great turning point in history when technology is poised to redefine what it means to be human, The Fourth Age offers fascinating insight into AI, robotics, and their extraordinary implications for our species. In The Fourth Age, Byron Reese makes the case that technology has reshaped humanity just three times in history: - 100,000 years ago, we harnessed fire, which led to language. - 10,000 years ago, we developed agriculture, which led to cities and warfare. - 5,000 years ago, we invented the wheel and writing, which lead to the nation state. We are now on the doorstep of a fourth change brought about by two technologies: AI and robotics. The Fourth Age provides extraordinary background information on how we got to this point, and how—rather than what—we should think about the topics we’ll soon all be facing: machine consciousness, automation, employment, creative computers, radical life extension, artificial life, AI ethics, the future of warfare, superintelligence, and the implications of extreme prosperity. By asking questions like “Are you a machine?” and “Could a computer feel anything?”, Reese leads you through a discussion along the cutting edge in robotics and AI, and, provides a framework by which we can all understand, discuss, and act on the issues of the Fourth Age, and how they’ll transform humanity.’ A fine PR note should be helpful – ‘Our world up to recent times has been a Third Age world. While incredible innovation has occurred along the way, such as the development of steam and electric power and the invention of movable type, these were not fundamental changes in the nature of being human the way language, agriculture and writing were. With the exceptions of computers and robots, the innovations that we have observed have been evolutionary more than revolutionary. This is not to diminish them in the least. Printing changed the world profoundly, but it was simply a cheaper way to do something that we already could do. Detailed schematics of a biplane would have made sense to Da Vinci. But computers and robots are different. If we use them to outsource thought and motion, the very essence we are, then that is a real change, a Fourth Age.’ Read, digest, relax and grow into the Fourth Age with Byron Reese.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    A fascinating if also frustrating peek into recent developments in AI, robotics, conscious computers and the next species-wide evolutionary step for the human race. The fascinating parts are the unconventional candidates for technology throughout the millennia: fire, language, agriculture, wheels, etc. and the philosophical and naughts into how the latest developments might work out. The frustrating part was trying to figure out on what authority Reese stakes so many claims. His bio makes him ou A fascinating if also frustrating peek into recent developments in AI, robotics, conscious computers and the next species-wide evolutionary step for the human race. The fascinating parts are the unconventional candidates for technology throughout the millennia: fire, language, agriculture, wheels, etc. and the philosophical and naughts into how the latest developments might work out. The frustrating part was trying to figure out on what authority Reese stakes so many claims. His bio makes him out to be a businessman (red flag) and technologist reporter (green flag?) with no academic credentials other than hosting a podcast featuring many futurists - cite some of them, why don’t ya?! The final kick in the pants, after so many chapters of uncertainty over each technological development, he writes with such Roddenberryish enthusiasm for our ability to overcome near-catastrophic near-future possibilities. I mean, did he read the middle three parts of his own book?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    Yet another book about the three technological ages of humanity that does not contain the words 'Alvin Toffler', author of arguably the most famous book ever written about futurism: "The Third Wave" in 1980. It, along with his book 'Future Shock' arguably invented the modern concept of futurism itself. Have some courage, sir. At least acknowledge the history of the idea your book is based around. Expanding on the ideas of others is normal and good. But you didn't invent this, and it's embarrassin Yet another book about the three technological ages of humanity that does not contain the words 'Alvin Toffler', author of arguably the most famous book ever written about futurism: "The Third Wave" in 1980. It, along with his book 'Future Shock' arguably invented the modern concept of futurism itself. Have some courage, sir. At least acknowledge the history of the idea your book is based around. Expanding on the ideas of others is normal and good. But you didn't invent this, and it's embarrassing that you pretend to.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robert Ferber

    library book. Great title and a great topic, but unfortunately I was not impressed with the author's thinking. The question the book tries to answer is whether artificial intelligence that is conscious can be created (answer: no one knows since we barely understand what consciousness is) and what this will mean (answer: your opinion is as good as mine). The book finishes with a view of a utopian world in which poverty, disease, ignorance, war, and death are all but banished...thanks to AI. Nice library book. Great title and a great topic, but unfortunately I was not impressed with the author's thinking. The question the book tries to answer is whether artificial intelligence that is conscious can be created (answer: no one knows since we barely understand what consciousness is) and what this will mean (answer: your opinion is as good as mine). The book finishes with a view of a utopian world in which poverty, disease, ignorance, war, and death are all but banished...thanks to AI. Nice to think so, but this book hardly proves the case.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Avishek Ghosh

    A great book with detailed exploration on the length and breadth of Ai and past, existing and future trajectory. What this book masterfully delivers is a very thoughtful discussion on the socio-economic telemetry as a product of the different degree of possibilities associated with break-through in AI. One of the best non-fiction I read so far.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rob Enderle

    Really fascinating book, great look into the future of robotics and AI. Like all forward looking books there is a lot you can disagree with (the author isn't psychic after all) but it gets you thinking about the topic and his points are well argued. Really fascinating book, great look into the future of robotics and AI. Like all forward looking books there is a lot you can disagree with (the author isn't psychic after all) but it gets you thinking about the topic and his points are well argued.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Fuzzball Baggins

    There were no original ideas in this book, and there were logic fallacies all over the place. It was so frustrating to read!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Luana Spinetti

    Because disclaimers always come first, I have to tell you that a representative of GigaOM reached out to me on Twitter in 2018 asking if I wanted to read the book and sent me an EPUB. I started reading and I liked it so much that I decided to buy the paperback as soon as it became available on Amazon. That said, this is an unbiased review – with the only “bias”, if you allow me, being my unconditional love of machines. But this book is more on the human than on the machine. In fact, the author Byr Because disclaimers always come first, I have to tell you that a representative of GigaOM reached out to me on Twitter in 2018 asking if I wanted to read the book and sent me an EPUB. I started reading and I liked it so much that I decided to buy the paperback as soon as it became available on Amazon. That said, this is an unbiased review – with the only “bias”, if you allow me, being my unconditional love of machines. But this book is more on the human than on the machine. In fact, the author Byron Reese focuses on the ages of technological progress, from language and fire in the First, to the development of sophisticated AI and robots in the Fourth. And how will human life change in the Fourth Age thanks to these catalysts? Reese investigates on the possibilities, especially what will happen to the concept of “human” if (when?) humankind will ever be able to build a sophisticated artificial general intelligence (AGI), a conscious machine. Will the machines be human, too? Reese also attempts to answer (with the collaboration of the reader) some current hot questions: will robots eventually take our jobs? What about the use of robots in warfare? Personally, I follow Haikonen’s robot consciousness research (and I dream to be able to “program” it in a robot one day) but it’s far from building a Terminator and I hope for humanity’s sake that we’ll always put restrictions on robots even if we manage to make them slightly conscious. The best way to not run the risk of technology taking over is to not build that something at all. The good news, to say it with Reese, is that "We use our technology, generally speaking, for good." But the author also investigates on some directions progress may take, like ending poverty and hunger, fighting disease, develop more clean energy and extend life. As always, he leaves it up to the reader to decide on various matters, from technology to immortality. All in all, I found Reese’s book thought provoking and a good analysis of the human way to handle progress and civilization. "The fact that progress exists at all speaks quite well of us as a species, for it relies on cooperation, honesty, and benevolence. It involves selflessness as well as empathy." -- Byron Reese I also enjoyed the author's writing style: personable yet neutral, and it runs smoothly when you read it. The only reason it took me two years to finish this book is because it's information-packed and dense in citations and questions, so sometimes reading one page got me thinking for the whole days and I just couldn't progress with the reading. But you know what? I'm glad it took me this long. Living with this book for a while helped me mature as a human being, I believe, and start looking at things a bit differently and with more critical sensibility. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all people who have a passion for technology and who have questions about life, society and the world. (You also can find this review here: https://luana.me/book-review-the-four... )

  21. 4 out of 5

    R.J. Gilmour

    Reese, a publisher and tech CEO looks into the possibility of smart robots and AI in the near future. The book is an explanation of possibilities, exploring how we define not only AI, but at the same time humanity and consciousness. "The invention of the printing press, and its widespread use, increased literacy and the free flow of information. This was the main catalyst that launched our modern world way back in the seventeenth century. And, perhaps, modernity got an unexpected boost from some Reese, a publisher and tech CEO looks into the possibility of smart robots and AI in the near future. The book is an explanation of possibilities, exploring how we define not only AI, but at the same time humanity and consciousness. "The invention of the printing press, and its widespread use, increased literacy and the free flow of information. This was the main catalyst that launched our modern world way back in the seventeenth century. And, perhaps, modernity got an unexpected boost from something else that happened in Europe at the same time: the replacement of beer by the newly introduced coffee as the beverage one sipped on all day." 27. "The questions that come out of this transition are profound, for they relate to what it means to be human. Can machines think? Can they be conscious? Can all human activity be mechanically reproduced? Are we simply machines? The ultimate purpose of this books is to explore these ideas-to figure out just how much human activity, both mental and physical, we can delegate to machines, and what the implications of that change will mean for the world." 37 "The Founding Father Thomas Paine believed a variant of both of these principles. In a pamphlet called Agarian Justice, which he penned in 1797, he made a case for universal income. His premise was that in our natural state as hunter-gatherers, the earth was "the common property of the human race." Along with that, the water, the air, and the animals were as well. But along the way, a system of property emerged by which over half the population no longer owned any land. HIs solution? He did not reject property ownership itself; rather, he argued that we should create "a national fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person, when arrived at the age of twenty-one years, the sum of Fifteen Pounds sterling, as a compensation in part, for the loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property." 143 "By the 1960s, it looked like the time for a universal basic income might have arrived in the United States when a memorandum entitled "The Triple Revolution" was delivered to President Johnson. It was signed by a roster of glitterati including a Nobel laureate, politicians, futurists, historians, economists, and technologists. It said that in a world of increased automation, it was ever more difficult to "disguise a historic paradox: That a substantial proportion of the population is subsiding on minimal income, often below the poverty line, at a time when sufficient productive potential is available to supple the needs of everyone in the U.S." 143-144

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed Qadir

    Alec Ross dedicated an entire chapter on artificial intelligence and another on robotics in his 2016 book, THE INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE. Klaus Schwab dedicates an entire book to the FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION that will be underpinned by, among other things, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. The more recent addition to the repository of books on artificial intelligence and robotics is Byron Reese’s book, THE FOURTH AGE: SMART ROBOTS, CONSCIOUS COMPUTERS, AND THE FUTURE OF HUMAN Alec Ross dedicated an entire chapter on artificial intelligence and another on robotics in his 2016 book, THE INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE. Klaus Schwab dedicates an entire book to the FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION that will be underpinned by, among other things, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. The more recent addition to the repository of books on artificial intelligence and robotics is Byron Reese’s book, THE FOURTH AGE: SMART ROBOTS, CONSCIOUS COMPUTERS, AND THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY. Reese is a tech entre-preneur, so he has the credentials and experience to share his thoughts on AI and robotics. The progress has been phenomenal in the last decade. Cloud computing, big data, algorithms, all have tak-en centre stage in the vocabulary of economics, business, and competitiveness - the fourth industrial revo-lution. But these have also shown how data is collected, monetised, and used with unintended consequenc-es for privacy. The book starts with the beginning of humanity and tells the story of us humans and how we came to live the lives that we are living today. There are historical facts, mixed with mythological tales and anecdotes. The four ages are the technological sets of innovation that changed humanity significantly. Reese classifies The First Age as Language and Fire, the Second Age as Agriculture and Cities, the Third Age as Writing and Wheels (transportation) and the Fourth Age as Robots and AI I personally found Reese’s writing on the first three stages difficult to go through – I didn’t need the history lesson. But that’s not to detract from his effort. The reader is not just thrown into some wild technobabble but is introduced into the subject matter. In a way that makes sense and helps to understand the following chapters in the book better. My personal interest was in the chapter on inequality but again the focus on Universal Basic Income seemed more suited to a book on economics. Reese, however, thinks the relentless progress in the fourth stage has the potential to change the trajectory of humanity far beyond the relatively incremental changes caused by previous technological advances such as the printing press, steam power, and the harnessing of electricity. Of course, during their time these technologies were revolutionary also. Reese feels that questions that come out of this transition are profound, for they relate to what it means to be human. The ultimate purpose of his book is to explore these ideas and to figure out just how much activ-ity, both mental and physical, we can delegate to machines, and what the implications of that change will mean for the world.

  23. 4 out of 5

    George ikilikjan

    If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be: ANNOYING. At a certain he was just breaking my balls. Regarding the topic of AI it’s really superficial and the author is merely scratching the surface. At one third of this book I considered stop reading. It's written in a similar style of of Malcolm Gladwell and Stephen R. Covey. Byron Reese Skillfully avoids answering the essential questions with dull 95% contextual information. I think this book can be reduced to a 35-50 page book. He spe If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be: ANNOYING. At a certain he was just breaking my balls. Regarding the topic of AI it’s really superficial and the author is merely scratching the surface. At one third of this book I considered stop reading. It's written in a similar style of of Malcolm Gladwell and Stephen R. Covey. Byron Reese Skillfully avoids answering the essential questions with dull 95% contextual information. I think this book can be reduced to a 35-50 page book. He spends so much time telling stories and writing about some research that has been done here, or another research that has been done there, that the reader forgets about the fundamental questions. The author deviates too much from the actual subjects by meandering through stories, examples and psychological research, and likes using ‘ad infinitum’ a lot. There are some horrible grammar errors: 1. “Classic AI is involves thinking through all the factors (soil type, crop, rainfall, etc.) and building a model that takes those factors, weighs them accordingly, and makes a suggestion.” 2. “While this seems plausible at first, it doesn’t really us get very far” 3. "We may give it is goals but do so in such a way that destroys us” 4. “But dogs feels pain, as do cows and apes.” 5. “Poverty is also a technical problem as well.” And his "humor" is difficult to stand: 1. “For the record, I am a huge fan of the human brain. I have one and I use it almost every day.” 2. “Every day we learn more and more about the brain, and not once have the scientists returned and said, “Guess what! We discovered a magical part of the brain that defies all laws of physics, and which therefore requires us to throw out all the science we have based on that physics for the last four hundred years.” Apart from that, there were some things that were really unclear and badly written: 1. “What is consciousness? It is often said that no one knows what consciousness is. This is not true. There is broad agreement on what it is. The mystery is how it comes about. So what is it? It is that feeling of subjective experience, of all your first-person sensations. You can feel the warmth of a fire burning in a fireplace, but a thermometer can only measure temperature. The difference between those two things is consciousness. It is, simply put, the experience of being “you.” It is the thing that makes life worth living, because without it, you are just an emotionless zombie going through life, feeling no love, experiencing no joy.” 2. “In the final analysis, death may be life’s way of staying forever young. ”

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shinabhat Maneerin

    Despite bearing such a highly technical sounded topic and one may misunderstand or mistaken the book to be genuinely technical from the cover picture, the book actually provides a comprehensive explanation, combining philosophical, historical and also technical approaches in its narrative. The book does not provide 'predictions', but instead explore humanity's capabilities, considering both our past and present progresses, particularly what are the futuristic processes we are currently working on Despite bearing such a highly technical sounded topic and one may misunderstand or mistaken the book to be genuinely technical from the cover picture, the book actually provides a comprehensive explanation, combining philosophical, historical and also technical approaches in its narrative. The book does not provide 'predictions', but instead explore humanity's capabilities, considering both our past and present progresses, particularly what are the futuristic processes we are currently working on, which, in turn, lead us to the various possibilities. From the underlying questions of 'What are we? and how are we different from robots?', one of the most vital question which lead to a better understanding of robots, AI and the future, to the possible scenarios of 'are we going to be replaced by robots?', 'how do we co-exist with robots?' to all the cliche' sci-fi plots from the typical action-comedy-drama plot of human co-exists with robots to human being completely idle like in 'Wall-E' and even more grimdark in 'The Matrix', the scenario of robots pointing guns at us and eradicates us like 'The Terminator' and 'The Avengers: Age of Ultron', virtual reality and human being augmented, these scenarios are all possible and explained briefly, and could be technically in-depth if the topic needs such technical explanation and when it becomes technically, the examples provided are easy to understand. In addition, the scenarios are explained with such optimistic tone, even too optimistic in some matters, but the supporting arguments are reasonably convincing. While the book may not precisely answers our questions concerning robots, AI and the future, it definitely provides us with abundance of materials for further thinking and finding answers.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rohan Parikh

    "The Fourth Age" by Bryon Reese is an excellent piece of nonfiction about humanities' future. It talks about the past first by stating how we got here. The First Age started with the invention of fire. With the ability to cook meat, our body was able to take in more calories than raw meat \and as a result, grow. Our brain grew and language was invented. The Second Age was agriculture. With the discovery of agriculture, humans did not have to move around anymore. Massive towns were developed. Eve "The Fourth Age" by Bryon Reese is an excellent piece of nonfiction about humanities' future. It talks about the past first by stating how we got here. The First Age started with the invention of fire. With the ability to cook meat, our body was able to take in more calories than raw meat \and as a result, grow. Our brain grew and language was invented. The Second Age was agriculture. With the discovery of agriculture, humans did not have to move around anymore. Massive towns were developed. Everyone did not need to farm so science and religion were soon developed. The current age is the Third Age. This age is the invention of writing. With writing, our memories became inferior to the memories of brains before. The Fourth Age is the invention of a major breakthrough in robotics in AI which allows for conscious computers, AGI, and more. Reese believes that robotics will improve the economy and change the way we work. This book is an interesting and a good read to find out more about the AI revolution. I believe that this book gives readers a new perspective on the revolution. It also helps readers potentially know more about their future. Reese also gives the hopeful thought of warfare being eradicated because of the potential economic loss. I feel like this book gives a good amount of information about the future. I recommend this book to anyone interested in robotics or AI.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Tessman

    3.5 stars. This book covers peoples’ dependency on computers and the various theoretical impacts Artificial Intelligence may have on humanity as technological advancements extend beyond weak AI (e.g., Siri) and lead to conscious computers. While many arguments are made touting the benefits of such advancements, I think the most profound cautionary statement is this: “As Steve Wozniak said, ‘All of a sudden, we’ve lost a lot of control. We can’t turn off our Internet; we can’t turn off our smartp 3.5 stars. This book covers peoples’ dependency on computers and the various theoretical impacts Artificial Intelligence may have on humanity as technological advancements extend beyond weak AI (e.g., Siri) and lead to conscious computers. While many arguments are made touting the benefits of such advancements, I think the most profound cautionary statement is this: “As Steve Wozniak said, ‘All of a sudden, we’ve lost a lot of control. We can’t turn off our Internet; we can’t turn off our smartphones; we can’t turn off our computers. You used to ask a smart person a question. Now who do you ask? It starts with g-o, and it’s not God.’” From mental capacity and health to employment and the economy, is AI a blessing or a curse? Despite the poor editing and the fact that much of the information shared is just a rehashing of old material, this book still makes for a very interesting read, particularly if you haven’t stayed abreast of the latest on the AI/AGI topic. The author does a fantastic job of relating historical advancements to today’s tech developments and laying out arguments on both sides of the issue in an unbiased fashion. And, even when the author’s leanings are clear, it is done in such a way that the reader doesn’t feel they are being force-fed. (That said, I admit I still did experience some eye-roll moments.) In short, a great book to open dialogue on whether we are heading toward a utopian society or bringing forth our very own doomsday.

  27. 4 out of 5

    David Shinabarger

    Ok introduction into the current era of the information era, increasing income inequality, social disconnection, etc. This is all escalated to the highest end due to the pandemic where we don't interact with people much at all face to face, everything is done online, and our shopping is all from papa bezos. With this book, there's just not much story to it, so it reads like a textbook. There are some good lines, and I think the overall thesis of the book is solid, but it's pretty long and uninte Ok introduction into the current era of the information era, increasing income inequality, social disconnection, etc. This is all escalated to the highest end due to the pandemic where we don't interact with people much at all face to face, everything is done online, and our shopping is all from papa bezos. With this book, there's just not much story to it, so it reads like a textbook. There are some good lines, and I think the overall thesis of the book is solid, but it's pretty long and uninteresting for most of the books. I liked the connection to philosophy and some of the questions about technology, and the following quote from the chapter called "Should We Build an Artificial General Intelligence." "extensive interactions with machines emulating human empathy would make us all feel more isolated and devalued. His point is well taken. Maybe we have all had the frustrating experience of being caught in some infuriating bureaucratic system, trying to get something done, and having uncaring humans tell us we were missing some form and instructing us to go stand in yet another line. The total lack of empathy is isolating, and to imagine that life consists of more and more interactions that merit empathy but are instead substituted by an AI or AGI programmed to merely pretend to be empathetic is concerning."

  28. 4 out of 5

    Illy

    I am not one for non-fiction, I find it beyond boring. But I really enjoyed this book, I truly did. I have become fascinated with A.I. for some unknown reason. So, I was super excited to pick up this book. I actually really enjoyed all the background knowledge talked through to get to the point. This book is a more philosophical than i imagined. It has so many perspectives as well. It, also, gave me hope in humanity. I feel, as humans, we always focus on the worst possible outcome/possibility. W I am not one for non-fiction, I find it beyond boring. But I really enjoyed this book, I truly did. I have become fascinated with A.I. for some unknown reason. So, I was super excited to pick up this book. I actually really enjoyed all the background knowledge talked through to get to the point. This book is a more philosophical than i imagined. It has so many perspectives as well. It, also, gave me hope in humanity. I feel, as humans, we always focus on the worst possible outcome/possibility. We have survived so much, and we have done so many great things. I feel like this is almost a good introduction point for people looking into A.I. as it gave multiple views rooted in philosophy and theories. As a person who had a little base knowledge of this topic, I never felt like any of this was hard to understand. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to start getting into A.I. and the thoughtful nature of it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    A well put together book about the possibility, dangers and varieties of developing artificial intelligence (AI) for those starting out on the subject. The best parts of the book are the small tangents and thought experiments that offer interesting follow-ups for this book, ranging from related topics to tangential. Although this is a great and easy read for newcomers and goes somewhat in depth, someone who has looked into AI with moderate interest will find little new insight beyond those anecd A well put together book about the possibility, dangers and varieties of developing artificial intelligence (AI) for those starting out on the subject. The best parts of the book are the small tangents and thought experiments that offer interesting follow-ups for this book, ranging from related topics to tangential. Although this is a great and easy read for newcomers and goes somewhat in depth, someone who has looked into AI with moderate interest will find little new insight beyond those anecdotes. There are also some gaps in estimations, biases and some topics that are barely touched. For example, quantum mechanics can play a large role in the development of AI but is barely mentioned. In the end, a well written sociological look into the next big step in human development that reads very easily while conveying a lot of information.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Excellent.  The topics covered in this book are vast: history, philosophy, science, religion, intelligence, economics, humanity, and on and on. Yet somehow nothing is glossed over, every topic is explored in fascinating detail. This is one of those rare books that offers food for thought rather than trying to sell you on a particular view. I especially like how the author presents multiple positions and explains each in a way that challenges you think about where you stand. I often found this to i Excellent.  The topics covered in this book are vast: history, philosophy, science, religion, intelligence, economics, humanity, and on and on. Yet somehow nothing is glossed over, every topic is explored in fascinating detail. This is one of those rare books that offers food for thought rather than trying to sell you on a particular view. I especially like how the author presents multiple positions and explains each in a way that challenges you think about where you stand. I often found this to include information and viewpoints I hadn't considered before. This led to a clarification or even change in my opinions and ideas, including some that I've held for a long time.

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