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To Be a Machine

Narrated by: James Garnon
Length: 8 hrs and 45 mins
4 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

What is transhumanism? Simply put, it is a movement whose aim is to use technology to fundamentally change the human condition, to improve our bodies and minds to the point where we become something other, and better, than the animals we are. It's a philosophy that, depending on how you look at it, can seem hopeful, or terrifying, or absurd.

In To Be a Machine, Mark O'Connell presents us with the first full-length exploration of transhumanism: its philosophical and scientific roots, its key players and possible futures. From charismatic techies seeking to enhance the body to immortalists who believe in the possibility of 'solving' death, and from computer programmers quietly redesigning the world to vast competitive robotics conventions, To Be a Machine is an adventure in Wonderland for our time.

To Be a Machine paints a vivid portrait of an international movement driven by strange and frequently disturbing ideas and practices but whose obsession with transcending human limitations can be seen as a kind of cultural microcosm, a radical intensification of our broader faith in the power of technology as an engine of human progress. It is a character study of human eccentricity and a meditation on the immemorial desire to transcend the basic facts of our animal existence - a desire as primal as the oldest religions, a story as old as the earliest literary texts. A stunning new nonfiction voice tackles an urgent question...what next for mankind?

©2017 Mark O'Connell (P)2017 Random House Audio

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  • Flappy Paddles
  • 12-26-17

utterly fascinating and very well read

I loved this book. some fascinating research and it's fantasically read as well which pulled me Into the writers narrative. Well worth a listen if you are Interested at all in technology and how the future could look.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jock
  • 02-10-18

Bonkers but Brilliant

You might think this is science fiction, you might think many of the people that O'Connor meets on his Odyssey through the underworld of Transhuman are bonkers, but you will love this blindingly bonkers book.

The writing is sharp, witty, sceptical and insightful.

My only criticism is the foul language in places - not needed, adds nothing. Otherwise this is great romp to the future round the corner

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • 05-28-18

Religion meets technology

The book starts well. I got interested in tranhumanism, datism, AI, robotics etc. on the back of Homo Deus and wanted to explore the topic further. This book is looks at the topic through the prism of an English PHD and arts student, which enables the reader to appreciate these futuristic subjects from a nonpartisan and romantic perspective.

Towards the end I started to enjoy the book less as it veered towards case studies of various people. I was reminded of Grand Theft Auto’s Strangers and Freaks levels.

A good vocabulary helps the reader to appreciate the book too... you may not be familiar with words like eschatology.

Anyway, all good stuff and worth a few hours of your life, and don’t worry about the diminishing returns the book delivers as you progress.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mimof
  • 02-13-19

Interesting tour through transhumanism

Found the topic fascinating for the first half of the book but felt there was repetition in some places for the second half. Overly descriptive at times which, though well written, made it read more like a novel.

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  • Hawfinch
  • 11-28-18

Well written and read, but not what I expected

From the blurb, I was expecting a pop science book about the latest researches in cognitive science and AI. What I got instead was a series of character sketches of various oddballs, shysters and outright nutcases, linked by their desire to extend life by technological means.

The author writes eloquently, and the narrator matches his style perfectly, so that the time spent among the often rather sad characters that he interviews does not feel wasted. We meet, for example, the man who is saving his viriginity for the sexbots that will service his needs when his mind is eventually uploaded into a machine. And then there's the group who implant sensors and switches, complete with painfully leaking batteries, under their flesh as a first step of their transformation into immortal robots.

The irony of people who are dissatisfied with their lives yet want to live forever is one of the running themes of the book.