If your memory has ever let you down, you wished you were stronger or could run faster, then you might share the dreams of transhumanists who believe we can and should use technology to control the future evolution of our species.
O’Connell visits and interviews cryogenisists preserving brains and bodies in the hope of later reconstitution, those who think it should be possible to download the contents of a brain into a computer, engineers working on cyborg-type additions, robotics builders angsting about anthropomorphism, and biologists working towards improving us by genetic engineering.
With gentle scepticism, he exposes extraordinary optimism, dubious morality and sometimes worrying psychology among the transhumanist tribe. In other chapters, he tackles the singularity concept – that a point will come when AI-based systems take over from us, the obsession with prolonging life and evading death and the relationship of these to religion. While the author’s doubts resonate, it may be well to remember the difficulty in predicting the future.
This book is an acute observation of the current state of play; will we still be around to find out whether the transhumanists have a point?
To Be a Machine by Mark O’Connell is published by Granta. Paperback and e-book are both £9.99.
The latest Screentalk Oxfordshire event explored how filmmakers are using mobile phones in new ways for creative storytelling. In a packed room at Oxford’s Curzon Cinema, BBC filmmaker and trainer […]
Entrepreneur and engineer Vinay Gupta explains how he invented the hexayurt refugee shelter and why blockchain tech will change everything about international trade.
Oxford-based Serelay, a player in the emerging field of controlled image capture, is catching the attention of global news outlets and human rights organisations.
Oxford University spin-out Zegami has developed software that enables huge volumes of data to be easily accessed and analysed. TechTribe Oxford talks to co-founder and chief technology officer Roger Noble about the firm's growth, scale-up plans and Twitter activity during the UK general election.
Oxford-based company Learning with Experts, which has students from 78 countries enrolled on its online courses, has seen traffic double during the past two weeks.