To Be a Machine

  • by Mark O'Connell
  • Narrated by James Garnon
  • 8 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Meet the visionaries, billionaires, professors, and programmers who are using groundbreaking technology to push the limits of the human body - our senses, our intelligence, and our lifespans
Once relegated to the fringes of society, transhumanism (the use of technology to enhance human intellectual and physical capability) is now poised to enter our cultural mainstream. It has found adherents in Silicon Valley billionaires Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis. Google has entered the picture, establishing a biotech subsidiary aimed at solving the problem of aging.
In To Be a Machine, journalist Mark O'Connell takes a headlong dive into this burgeoning movement. He travels to the laboratories, conferences, and basements of today's foremost transhumanists, where he's presented with the staggering possibilities and moral quandaries of new technologies like mind uploading, artificial superintelligence, cryonics, and device implants.
A contributor to Slate, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Magazine, O'Connell serves as a sharp and lively guide to the outer limits of technology in the 21st century. In investigating what it means to be a machine, he offers a surprising, singular meditation on what it means to be human.

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What the Critics Say

"A voyage into the dark heart of transhumanism, where dwell many hopeful mind-uploaders, robo-warfighters, subdermal implanters, doomed immortalists, and sundry aging Singularitarians. A funny, wise, and oddly moving book." (Nicholson Baker, best-selling author of House of Holes and Human Smoke)
"O'Connell's forensic investigation of the unnervingly fluid border between the human and the machine is elegant and gripping: at once a hilarious anthropological survey of the people who believe technology will give us eternal life and a terrifying account of how technology is changing the cardinal features of human existence." (Olivia Laing, author of The Lonely City and The Trip to Echo Spring)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An Excellent All-Encompassing Look at Futurists

While futurists like Kurzweil and Elon can write their own books (Kurzweil), and have books written about them (both), this one of the best books I've read about Futurists (Transhumanists, et al) in general. It is wide-reaching, well researched, and at times quite funny! O'Connell spared no expense in talking to as many experts in the field as he could possibly find, and the listener is greatly rewarded for his efforts.

His writing style reminds me a lot of Jon Ronson's, but maybe a tad more scientific and a tad less witty.

If you're looking for a good primer on where the mindset of Transhumanists, Futurists, and Scientific Optimists are at these days, this is the book for you. It gives a litany of perspectives on where we're headed as a society, in terms of technological advancement, and very few of these lack believability. To that point, depending on which side of the argument you fall on, the stuff on A.I.s eventually driving us to extinction was particularly disconcerting, and worth the read all by itself.

The narrator was great.
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- aaron "Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-28-2017
  • Publisher: Random House Audio