A Reading List for Futurists
More material to help you understand the future of technology and artificial intelligence.
The tenth and final post in a GOOD miniseries on the singularity by Michael Anissimov and Roko Mijic.
Interested in finding out more about the singularity and going beyond this short series? Here are a few interesting books you can read to increase your knowledge about the singularity and associated topics:
The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil
Kurzweil may be outspoken and provocative, but anyone who reads his obligatory book on the technological singularity will have to admit that he has done extensive research on the topics he talks about. The Singularity is Near approaches the singularity from an engineer's point of view. It is thorough, with lots of attention to detail and lots of quantitative analysis.
Catastrophe: Risk and Response by Richard Posner
This book is especially interesting because it is written by something of an outsider. Richard Posner doesn't move in traditional transhumanist circles; he is a U.S. judge and legal scholar, and this work on catastrophic risks is most scholarly indeed.
Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime by Aubrey De Grey
In this work, Aubrey de Grey outlines his engineering approach to ending—or at least dramatically retarding—human aging. Read this book for an introduction to the concept of "longevity escape velocity": How you can live long enough to live forever.
"Why the Future Doesn't Need Us" by Bill Joy
"Our most powerful 21st-century technologies—robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech—are threatening to make humans an endangered species," writes Joy. This almost book-length essay on the risks of future technologies was ahead of its time and is still very worth reading.
Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing and Computation by K. Eric Drexler
This book is the premier work on advanced nanotechnology, and Drexler demonstrates his mastery of physical science and its possible applications.
The Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks
I wanted to include some fiction in this list, and at least one fairly optimistic work: The Use of Weapons is both. Banks paints a picture of a future where humanity has created benevolent superintelligent AIs called Minds, and in this book more than the rest of his Culture series, we get to see how that affects a vaguely human society. Sex so good the protagonist thinks his partner is having a fit, 10-mile long spaceships, customized experiences, and the ethical dilemma of when to forcefully rescue other civilizations from their constricting lesser societies are all included. This was my introduction to transhumanist ideas, so occupies a special place in my heart.
Roko Mijic is a Cambridge University mathematics graduate, and has worked in ultra low-temperature engineering, pure mathematics, digital evolution and artificial intelligence. In his spare time he blogs about the future of the human race and the philosophical foundations of ethics and human values.
Teacher’s Little Reading Helper Know any child iPad addicts who should be learning how to read instead of playing Candy Crush? Try Bam Boomerang
How Elves and Serpents are Saving Iceland for Future Generations Most Iceland residents believe in magic to some degree, and it’s helping to preserve the environment, foster community … and rake in tourism dollars
5 Tales of Halloween Heartbreak A conversation about growing up in the U.S. without celebrating national dress-up-and-get-free-candy day
Thomas Nestor Jr. Joins the Ranks Read more ›
For the Benefit of Mr. Coyne The Flaming Lips’ bold remake of Sgt. Pepper forces listeners to separate challenging art from its hard-to-like creator
Science So Bad It’s Good The unexpectedly popular BAHFest searches for the year’s most laughable evolutionary theory, and rewards its creator
Chilling Out May Stave off Alzheimer’s A new study links neurotic behavior and midlife stress to dementia in women
Here’s What It Feels Like Being A Woman Trying To Walk Down The Street 10 hours of sexual harassment in two minutes.
The Feminist Life: Malala Won’t Use the F-Word A new column exploring women’s rights, promoting gender equality, and confronting sexism
With Ebola, the Only Thing Most Americans Have to Fear is Fear Itself In order to help the world fight a deadly virus outbreak, the United States should seriously calm down
Homophobic Maniac Taken Down by Some Texan Good Ol’ Boys (But Not Paul Rudd) Around the 1-minute mark, the attack goes from verbal to physical. That’s when the bystanders rushed in.