David Ewing Duncan - Talking To Robots – A Brief Guide to Our Human-Robot Futures
What robot and AI systems are being built and imagined right now? What do they say about us, their creators? Will they usher in a fantastic new future, or destroy us? What do some of our greatest thinkers, from physicist Brian Greene and futurist Kevin Kelly to inventor Dean Kamen, geneticist George Church and filmmaker Tiffany Shlain, anticipate for our human-robot future? For even as robots and AI intrigue us and make us anxious about the future, our fascination with robots has always been about more than the potential of the technology – it also concerns what robots tell us about being human.
Featured bots include robot drivers; doc bots; politician bots; warrior bots; sex bots; synthetic bio bots; dystopic bots that are hopefully just bad dreams; and ultimately, God Bot (as described by physicist Brian Greene).
These scenarios are informed by discussions with well-known thinkers, engineers, scientists, artists, philosophers and others, who share with us their ideas, hopes and fears about robots. David spoke with, among others, Kevin Kelly, David Baldacci, Brian Greene, Dean Kamen, Craig Venter, Stephanie Mehta, David Eagleman, George Poste, George Church, General R. H. Latiff, Robert Seigel, Emily Morse, David Sinclair, Ken Goldberg, Sunny Bates, Adam Gazzaley, Tim O’Reilly, Tiffany Shlain, Eric Topol and Juan Enriquez.
The book describes how robots work, but its primary focus is on what our fixation with bots and AI says about us as humans: about our hopes and anxieties; our myths, stories, beliefs and ideas about beings both real and artificial; and our attempts to attain perfection.
From present-day Facebook and Amazon bots to near-future ‘intimacy’ bots and ‘the robot that swiped my job’ bots, bestselling American popular science writer David Ewing Duncan’s Talking to Robots is a wonderfully entertaining and insightful guide to possible future scenarios about robots, both real and imagined.
Hardcover, published in 2019, 303 pages.