- Copertina flessibile: 256 pagine
- Editore: Granta Books (30 marzo 2017)
- Lingua: Inglese
- ISBN-10: 1783781963
- ISBN-13: 978-1783781966
- Peso di spedizione: 272 g
- Posizione nella classifica Bestseller di Amazon: n. 63.851 in Libri in altre lingue (Visualizza i Top 100 nella categoria Libri in altre lingue)
To be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death (Inglese) Copertina flessibile – 30 mar 2017
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'This Homer's Odyssey for the digital age spirits the reader through some of the most lurid reaches of technomania... This is a gentle, humorous and lovingly written book that is the best on its subject since Ed Regis's forgotten 1990 masterpiece Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhumanism Condition... A diverting anthropological study' -- The Times
'[O'Connell] dissects the practises and beliefs of transhumanism with extraordinary exuberance and wit... To Be a Machine is sometimes hilarious [...] but ever as O'Connell mocks the more absurd manifestations of transhumanism he shows sympathy and understanding for its adherents' -- Financial Times
'[A] beautifully written book... lucid, brilliant and mordant... O'Connell is a very, very funny writer and he inserts himself Ronson-like into a series of absurd, ironic and alarming situations... By exposing the ludicrous yet terrifying serious ideologies behind transhumanism, To Be a Machine is an important book, as well as a seriously funny one' -- Sunday Times
'[A] travelogue-style exploration of transhumanism... To Be a Machine [...] is a conversational, approachable book... It's O'Connell's lack of stridency, as well as his often splendid writing, that makes him such a companionable guide' -- Guardian
'A really good book - very funny and well written... does a good job of exploring the motivations [of transhumanists]... Fascinating' -- BBC World Service, Click
'Mark O'Connell [is] a writer with quite a way with words... he reports with a fluency and humour any novelist might envy... O'Connell, while meeting people as nutty as any encountered by Jon Ronson, never just plays it for laughs. Instead of ridiculing transhumanism as a parody of religion, he allows that it comes from the same perplexities, hopes and fears... A gem of a book' -- Evening Standard
'O'Connell is an efficient host and curator, packing so much into a slim book that you might suspect some supernatural technology to be at work. This makes To Be a Machine essential reading on a subject you didn't know you needed to be worried about' -- Irish Times
'Engaging and at times very funny... O'Connell perceptively observes how transhumanism fits with Silicon Valley's worldview. Vivid, memorable, [...] and entertaining' --New Statesman
'Bracingly intelligent debonair</n>... One of the joys of this book is O'Connell's near-faultless handling of tone, which ranges from thepedantic to Amis-esque saltiness via DeLillo-esque pastiche... O'Connell excels at the tricky task of painting his subjects vividly while treating them fairly... By the end of the To Be a Machine I was still as convinced as when I began that I do not want to live out my days on a hard drive, but glad to have clarified exactly why I don't' -- Literary Review
'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
'Mark O'Connell brilliantly explores the growing number of people who want to transcend their 'mortal flesh'... wonderful' -- Financial times
'A wryly melancholy version of gonzo narrative nonfiction... think a more overtly erudite version of Jon Ronson [...] and often disarmingly funny' -- Spectator
'Riveting, fascinating, comic and appalling... O'Connell is a charming guide on this tour through what may be the future of humanity, charming and perceptive... Read this disturbing, yet highly enjoyable, book. It will make you wonder what sort of world your children and grandchildren will inhabit' -- Scotsman
'[To Be a Machine] makes for as many laughs as genuine pauses for thought' -- Big Issue
'O'Connell voyages engagingly into cryonics, brain uploading, artificial superintelligence, four-digit lifespans, as he [...] reflects on the inherently finite nature of human existence. Provocative, funny and not a little gonzo, it's a great one to recommend to devotees of Jon Ronson' -- Bookseller
'Highly accessible... O'Connell mixes profundity with entertainment in a readable style' -- Daily Express
'A brilliant book about humanity's quest for technological immortality [which] gets you rooting for the grim reaper... If the subject is inherently complex [...] [O'Connell] makes light work explaining it. He's also funny... Beneath it all, and what makes To Be a Machine such fascinating reading, is the interplay between urges that are at once incredibly forward-looking and undeniably primal' --Esquire
'A beautiful picture of a dazzling, dangerous thing... To Be a Machine is more poetic than polemic, and all the more powerful for it' -- New Humanist
'Staggeringly funny' -- New Scientist
'[A] brilliant work of non-fiction [...] To Be a Machine is an intriguing investigation into what it means to be a human being' -- Sunday Independent
'A captivating work of investigative journalism, Louis Theroux-like in its delivery and very thought provoking' -- How it Works Magazine
'If you're a fan of Jon Ronson and Don DeLillo, look no further: in To Be a Machine, Irish author Mark O'Connell traces his journey into a surreal cultish society of men who believe we will one day gain immortality and merge our minds with machines... A cerebral, witty joy' -- Sunday Business Post
'A voyage into the dark heart of transhumanism, where dwell many hopeful mind-uploaders, robo-warfighters, subdermal implanters, doomed immortalists, and sundry ageing Singularitarians. A funny, wise, and oddly moving book' -- Nicholson Baker
'Full of sharp, funny insights into the human in transhumanism: whatever we may become, we haven't yet escaped what we are. This terrific book is as fascinating on how we live now as it is about our possible future' -- Richard Beard
'In this hilarious and moving volume, Mark O'Connell interweaves his journalistic adventures among the transhumanists with his own thoughts about mortality and life experiences, starting with the birth of his son and ending, memorably, with a colonoscopy. The field of transhumanism and the individuals who populate it emerge as at once bizarre, compelling, and, ironically, deeply human, because what is more human than trying to overcome the limits of our bodies and mortality? Nothing! It's super-detailed and cosmic and minute and high-stakes and sad, all at the same time' --Elif Batuman
MARK O'CONNELL is a journalist, essayist, and literary critic from Dublin. He is a books columnist for Slate, a staff writer at The Millions, and a regular contributor to the New Yorker's 'Page-Turner' blog and the Dublin Review; his work has been published in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, and the Observer.
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In other words, transhumanism sounds weird in the current context more because of its timing than because of the content of its ideas.
For example, many current medical procedures would have sounded like science fiction not that long ago. I recently went through a round of cardiac diagnostics myself, one of which involved an injection of an artificial radioactive isotope which emits gamma rays, just to get images of my heart vasculature both before and after a stress test on a treadmill. Fortunately the gamma rays didn't turn me into the Hulk or something. : ) If you could have gone back a century ago to describe to the medical experts in 1917 what modern medical imaging can do, apart from the primitive X-ray photographs they had at the time, they would have dismissed it as the wildest fantasy. As a friend of mine who follows the medical literature says, the Singularity in medical imaging has already happened, and we have only started to notice it.
O'Connell also tries to connect at least some transhumanists' hangups about their bodies with ancient religious beliefs like Gnosticism. I know quite a few transhumanists through my friends and acquaintances in the cryonics movement, and while I suppose you can find one here or there who feels uncomfortable in his instantiation, I don't get the impression that transhumanists feel that way about their bodies in general. Zoltan Istvan, to whom O'Connell devotes a whole chapter in his book, apparently spent his youth having action-adventure experiences as he sailed around the tropics in a sailboat that make him sound more like Indiana Jones than any stereotype about a transhumanist nerd who feels uncomfortable in his own skin. You can find the video on YouTube where he uses a snowboard to slide down the slopes of an active volcano on a South Pacific island, to see a sample of the kinds of things he did back then.
O'Connell also seems to have an issue with the dominance of white men in transhumanism, despite the early contributions of the Iranian transhumanist F.M. Esfandiary and the more recent work of the Egyptian-born transhumanist Ramez Naam and the Jewish transhumanists like Ray Kurzweil and Eliezer Yudkowsky. Russia also has its own, independent version of transhumanist philosophy that started around 1900, and that has seen a revival lately, called "Cosmism." Russian women seem somewhat well represented in the current Cosmist movement, and some of them have shown up in the U.S. as scientists pursuing graduate study or scientific research into the biology of aging. O'Connell could have written a more comprehensive book if he had talked to some Cosmists to show that transhumanist ideas transcend Western parochialism. I've gathered that some people in East Asian countries have also shown an interest in transhumanism, but they haven't raised much awareness of their existence in Western countries yet.
Still, the framing of transhumanism as an expression of alleged white male privilege signals something about transhumanism's potential importance. Social-justice obsessives, apparently including O'Connell, target a white male social space when they see wealth or power accumulating there, so that they can try to invade it and engage in rent-seeking under the phony pretexts of "inclusiveness" and "diversity." Notice that white men dominate sabermetrics, for example, but that the social-justice warriors have ignored it so far because no one cares about a bunch of white male nerds who study baseball statistics, despite the success of applied "moneyball" techniques in some areas outside of the sport like in predicting the outcomes of elections. If sabermetrics starts to attract some serious money, and it acquires the reputation as a nexus where society's white male movers and shakers gather to exert their influence over society, then I predict that we will hear calls for sabermetrics to become more diverse and inclusive.
On the whole, O'Connell's book doesn't impress me, and I keep looking for a better survey which explains what transhumanism really means.