As robots are increasingly integrated into modern society - on the battlefield and the road, in business, education, and health - Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times science writer John Markoff searches for an answer to one of the most important questions of our age: Will these machines help us, or will they replace us?
In the past decade alone, Google introduced us to driverless cars, Apple debuted a personal assistant that we keep in our pockets, and an Internet of Things connected the smaller tasks of everyday life to the farthest reaches of the Internet. There is little doubt that robots are now an integral part of society, and cheap sensors and powerful computers will ensure that in the coming years, these robots will soon act on their own. This new era offers the promise of immense computing power, but it also reframes a question first raised more than half a century ago, at the birth of the intelligent machine: Will we control these systems, or will they control us?
In Machines of Loving Grace, New York Times reporter John Markoff, the first reporter to cover the World Wide Web, offers a sweeping history of the complicated and evolving relationship between humans and computers. Over the recent years, the pace of technological change has accelerated dramatically, reintroducing this difficult ethical quandary with newer and far weightier consequences. As Markoff chronicles the history of automation, from the birth of the artificial intelligence and intelligence augmentation communities in the 1950s to the modern-day brain trusts at Google and Apple in Silicon Valley and on to the expanding tech corridor between Boston and New York, he traces the different ways developers have addressed this fundamental problem and urges them to carefully consider the consequences of their work.
©2015 John Markoff (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers
Newbern is an excellent narrator. Engaging and clear.
Thorough and thoughtfully written history of the sometimes-at-odds scientific pursuits of AI (artifical intelligence) and IA (intelligence augmentation). The book does an admirable job of giving enough detail and technical information to truly explain the scientific developments, but not too much to make a lay reader feel overwhelmed. He has interwoven the technical feats with the biographies and personalities of the key players, as well as the dueling philosophies at the heart of how we currently interract with automated and robotic technology, how we should do so in the future, and the attendant dangers. This book acts as a nice counterpoint and compliment to a number of other books, including The Second Machine Age; Superintellegence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies; The Glass Cage; In the Plex; portions of The Pentagon's Brain; and The Master Algorithm (which I am still in the process of reading). Machines of Loving Grace and these other books all shine a light on our relationship with technology, how it shapes us and how we shapte it, and offers generous food for thought as we move forward into a future where our daily lives will be ever more enmeshed with technology.
This entire book was spent giving examples of the AI vs IA paradigm in robotics. All to be summarized in the final chapter.
The examples can drag on for way too long, and with timelines unconnected; hard to follow for an audiobook.
Anyone interested in robotics and automation should read this, but skipping to the last chapter will give you the same knowledge as fully listening to the entire thing; albeit with less of the unending drudgery of fluff and filler.
Markoff did a nice job of laying out the history and key players in the AI and IA fields. I would have hoped for a broader and deeper discussion on the implications and issues AI and IA portend.
Computers of all size and shapes have become a seamless part of our everyday lives. We carry in our pockets more computing power than Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins took to the moon. Robots are still mostly less visible, still doing most of their work in factories, in space, and in other settings where humans don't add enough value to justify the risk of lives.
And whether we call them computers or robots, right now they're still just machines.
Yet the quest to develop artificial intelligence goes right back to the start of the computer age. We've reached the point where we can have something very like real conversations with Siri. Many of us have Roomba do our vacuuming. Elon Musk is determined to give us self-driving cars. Retail stores in Japan have robotic greeters. There is real work being done to develop robots who could act as aides to the elderly and the infirm. Such machines will need to have a level of judgement and understanding that computers don't yet have even a shadow of.
This book tells the history of the quest for artificial intelligence, and the tension and competition between AI (artificial intelligence, able to replace human beings in many settings) and IA (intelligent augmentation of human beings, expanding the abilities of humans). What are or will be the economic effects? The social effects? Will there be massive unemployment because robots are cheaper and can't sue for injuries? If robots are smart enough, will they have rights? Will the elderly in our aging population be more or less isolated if they get their routine, daily care from helpful little robots who have some, even if limited, autonomy and conversational ability?
In some ways, the most interesting part of the story is the conflict between AI and IA, and the people who moved from one camp to the other and why.
Overall, a fascinating history of the technology from an angle I hadn't given enough thought to before. Recommended.
I bought this book.
By the end of the day, may you have learned something, laughed, and gotten laid.
If you're legitimately scared of the capabilities of your smart phone; if Wall-E was a horror movie for you, read this book.
I'm not sure if it was the performance or the material, but I found it excruciatingly dull. I felt like I was force-feeding myself through the whole thing. In contrast, The Innovators, with a similar theme and structure, was captivating.
the story was useful but long. it focusses more on the people involved in the history of AI than it does the macro issues. this made it feel rambling at times, but I did learn about people I wouldn't otherwise have found out about.
Report Inappropriate Content