To Be a Machine
Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death
By Mark O'Connell
“This gonzo-journalistic exploration of the Silicon Valley techno-utopians’ pursuit of escaping mortality is a breezy romp full of colorful characters.” —New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)
Transhumanism is a movement pushing the limits of our bodies—our capabilities, intelligence, and lifespans—in the hopes that, through technology, we can become something better than ourselves. It has found support among Silicon Valley billionaires and some of the world’s biggest businesses.
In To Be a Machine, journalist Mark O'Connell explores the staggering possibilities and moral quandaries that present themselves when you of think of your body as a device. He visits the world's foremost cryonics facility to witness how some have chosen to forestall death. He discovers an underground collective of biohackers, implanting electronics under their skin to enhance their senses. He meets a team of scientists urgently investigating how to protect mankind from artificial superintelligence.
Where is our obsession with technology leading us? What does the rise of AI mean not just for our offices and homes, but for our humanity? Could the technologies we create to help us eventually bring us to harm? Addressing these questions, O'Connell presents a profound, provocative, often laugh-out-loud-funny look at an influential movement. In investigating what it means to be a machine, he offers a surprising meditation on what it means to be human.