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Talking to Robots

A Brief Guide to Our Human-Robot Futures

David Ewing Duncan



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Robinson Publishing
23 July 2019
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's also about what robots tell us about being human.

From present-day Facebook and Amazon bots to near-future 'intimacy' bots and 'the robot that stole 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.

These scenarios are informed by interviews with actual engineers, scientists, artists, philosophers, futurists and others, who share with us their ideas, hopes and fears about robots.

In the future, we will all remember when the robots truly arrived. Perhaps a robot surgeon saved your child's life, or maybe your inaugural robot moment will be more banal, when you realised with relief that the machines had taken over all the tasks you used to hate - taking out the rubbish, changing nappies, paying bills . . .

Perhaps your recollection will be less benign, a memory of when a robot turned against you: the robot that threatened to seize your assets over a tax dispute.

You might also remember when the robots began campaigning for equal rights with humans, and for an end to robot slavery, abuse and exploitation.

Or when robots became so smart that they became our benign overlords, treating us like cute and not very bright pets.

Or when the robots grew tired of us and decided to destroy us, turning our own robo-powered weapons of mass destruction against us.

Further into the future we will remember when robots became organic, created in a lab from living tissue to look and be just like us, only better and more resilient. Even further in the future, we will recall when we first had the option of becoming robots ourselves, by downloading our minds into organic-engineered beings that could theoretically live forever. And yet . . . will we feel that something is missing as the millennia pass? Will we grow weary of being robots, invulnerable and immortal?

Mostly we love our technology as it whisks us across and over continents and oceans at 35,000 feet, or summons us rides in someone else's Prius or connects us online to long-lost friends. Yet deep down, many of us fe
By:   David Ewing Duncan
Imprint:   Robinson Publishing
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 232mm,  Width: 150mm,  Spine: 36mm
Weight:   400g
ISBN:   9781472142917
ISBN 10:   1472142918
Pages:   320
Publication Date:   23 July 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

DAVID EWING DUNCAN is the author of nine books, including the international bestseller Calendar, and writes for Wired, Discover, and the Atlantic Monthly. He is a freelance producer and correspondent for ABC's Nightline, and a commentator on NPR's Journalist, author and researcher David Ewing Duncan has covered the intersection of technology and humanity for Wired, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, Atlantic, Fortune, NPR, ABC News and many others. He is the author of nine books, which have been translated into over twenty languages, including the international bestseller The Calendar, and Experimental Man. In 2003, he won the Magazine Journalism Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the founding director of the Center for Life Science Policy at UC Berkeley. He lives in San Francisco, California and Boston, Massachusetts.

Reviews for Talking to Robots: A Brief Guide to Our Human-Robot Futures

Praise for Calendar: Calendar sparkles. Gripping, expansive and scholarly, it will be indispensable reading for years to come. Duncan has achieved a rare feat in turning something ordinary into an extraordinary metaphor of life. - Observer Praise for Calendar: As the new millennium approaches, this fine book will prove to all readers that the establishment of a consistent and useful calendar is no dull work of drones and bean counters, but one of humanity's greatest achievements and the embodiment of our culture, history and progress. Praise for Calendar: Duncan writes the way good teachers teach, conversational, yet informed he is a popularizer and storyteller. - USA Today Editor s Pick

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