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.
New Technology Could Help Paralyzed People Turn Thought into Action New developments in thought-relaying research help give movement back to the paralytic community.
The Racket Over Rabbit: Whole Foods’ Newest Meat Causes a Furor Whole Foods falls down the ethical rabbit hole of selling coveted, controversial bunny meat.
Why Can’t People Cozy up to Cuddle Capitalism? Despite their restorative and intimacy-inducing effects, cuddling services are increasingly coming under attack. Are critics simply out of touch?
An Overlooked Contributor to Climate Change: Leaky Pipes These tricked-out, air sensor-equipped Google cars are helping to identify dangerous natural gas pipelines.
Me No Want Cookie! Sesame Workshop puts the junk food industry on notice. The effort to re-brand fruits and vegetables for kids now has some cute, furry and iconic allies.
How Artists Got a Flock of Extinct Birds to Invade a Museum "Eclipse," now showing at MASS MoCA, commemorates the centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon.
Parks We're Crushing On Hang out in a sick park (while at your desk) The coolest greenspaces—old and new—as spotted by an intrepid network of photographers around the globe
Your Groceries Don't Need Their Own Bus Seat, Thanks Facebook's Jet Burrows and the Analog Lab team have created the much-needed 10 Commandments of Transit.
Why This Teen-Created Police Accountability App Rules Five-O, a new police accountability app created by three Georgia teens, is the most comprehensive tool of its kind.
Exit Through the Riverbed Olafur Eliasson's new museum exhibit will leave you thinking and splashing.
How Do You Compete With a Flying Toilet? The Savvyloo toilet is a bold step forward in the world sanitation crisis.
Elementary Schoolers Imagine Street Carts of the Future These prototypes show how a group of students from Brooklyn think street vendors and mobile service stations should look in 30 years.