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Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 5, 2010

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, March 5, 2010
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Editorial Reviews


"What happens when a religious studies scholar enters the digital dream worlds of Artificial Intelligence? Robert Geraci shows us deities and devils in the details of some of the most ambitious predictions about our computational future. His cyberspace odyssey reveals that the transcendent aspirations of transhumanists are rooted in the earth of human history and culture."

--Stefan Helmreich, author of Silicon Second Nature: Culturing Artificial Life in a Digital World

"In this book Robert Geraci highlights how the apocalyptic world view found in Western religions today also appears in the unlikely fields of robotics, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. Clearly written, rooted in extensive interviews, this book provides new insights into what motivates scientists to try to create computers with human traits and capacities."

--Noreen Herzfeld, author of In Our Image: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Spirit

"Robert Geraci's thoughtful examination of technology-based quests for transcendence offers a serious look at apocalyptic scenarios that, while remaining for now in the realm of science fiction, nonetheless claim significant cultural influence. I don't know when we will see robots with human-like intelligence, but our longing for them, and what that says about us, is what Geraci's book helps us understand.

--David S. Touretzky, Research Professor of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University

About the Author

Robert M. Geraci is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (March 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195393023
  • ASIN: B0062GK6V4
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.1 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,168,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm Texan, but living, teaching, and writing in New York City. I'm pretty sure that everyone loves robots, which is why I've written a book about them. People like games, so I've written about those too. I'm also interested in the toadstool circles, the ancient temples, the soaring cathedrals of our religious imagination. Likewise, the dark tunnels of mining and rapid transit. I visit mountains, deserts, temples, laboratories, factories, and virtual worlds, looking for the fantastic in all of them.

I believe that writing should be accessible and that readers should never want to curse authors for producing unintelligible drivel. I want my academic studies accessible and interesting to people who are not college professors, and I hope that my own work lives up to those standards.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By sqee on December 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having had a long standing interest in the concepts of artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual existence, and mind uploading, and extremely intrigued by the possibilities that may be opening up within the next fifty years as technology continues its exponential curve of advancement, I was very excited to get my hands on this book.

Mr. Keraci delivers the goods in a succinctly written, exhaustively researched volume that examines in great detail the many different facets of the cultural, scientific, economic, and religious (yes, religious) movement that the author has termed "Apocalyptic AI". Being scientifically inclined as well as a professional analyst, I am very leery of "pop science" books that rely heavily on theorizing and daydreaming and lightly on fact. This book is a refreshing reversal of that disturbing trend, offering a wonderfully detailed analysis of Apocalyptic AI, the true original meaning of the concept of "apocalypse", and balanced, logical explanations of other supporting concepts, as well as superbly researched and elucidated discussions and explanations of modern Apocalyptic AI ideology and culture.

The basic definition of Apocalyptic AI (according to my understanding of this book, and any errors in explanation fall squarely on me as the reviewer) is that it is a movement that:

1. Incorporates the apocalyptic elements of Judaic/Christian theology, including:

A. A belief that there will be an irreversible event on a massive scale (global) after which nothing will ever be the same (in traditional apocalypses, the apocalypse itself; in Apocalyptic AI ideology, an event known as "the singularity")
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James A. Brannan on March 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Title summarizes my thoughts on this book. I bought it from Amazon based upon the title and description alone, without being able to thumb through it. I thought it would be written in a pop-science style. Instead it was written like an academic book, which, surprise surprise, I suppose it is. Lots of "as discussed by X in Y" which proved distracting when reading in the tub or bed.

To see a review of the content, see the first 5 star review - I pretty much agree with it. This review is more focus upon the style. It's a good enough book, one that any convert to the singularity movement should read, lest they view themselves as having risen above mere superstitious beliefs like born-again Christianity or radical Islam. We haven't.

IMHO the author really should write a non-jargon pop-science version of his research, as I could easily see it being a NY Times bestseller. It would appeal to both the true believers and those opposed to the singularity movement. Given that this is an academic book, I don't think most folks will stomach the constant references. That is unfortunate, as the book has a cool message that elucidates the commonality between "that ole time religion" and "apocalyptic AI."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Simon Laub on September 8, 2014
Format: Paperback
Apocalyptic AI is the idea that we might one day upload our minds into machines or cyberspace and live forever.
This might sound very new and high tech, but apocalyptic ideas have been with us for thousands of years.
And probably, the only new thing in Apocalyptic AI is the rephrasing of these ideas from a religious language into a technical language.
In the christian and jewish religious traditions, the apocalyptic believer, desperate to end his alienation and resolve the cosmic dualism, anticipates that God will soon rectify human problems by destroying the Earth, and replacing it with a perfect new world, where the believer will have a new perfect body.
Now, the new thing is that people can imagine a technical solution to the problems...

Certainly, Geracis brilliant book makes it abundantly clear that these religious beliefs are deeply embedded in our culture, and that it is probably not alt that surprising that we end up having visions of heaven in robotics, artificial intelligence and virtual reality that borrows a lot from these existing beliefs.
What we are like and what we hope for might not have changed that much, even as our world becomes more and more ''science fiction - like''.

In apocalyptic AI it is al very simple:
First the robots will do all of our work for us. So that we will not have to fight for basic necessities. Later we will upload our minds into robotic bodies, so that we will no longer become ill, suffer mental decline or die. Our minds will also vastly improve, and we will be able to learn all sorts of skills instantaneously.
Everyone wants wisdom and wealth, but unfortunately our health often declines before we achieve these good things. So, our bodies and brains must be changed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book seemed to make a lot of assumptions that may or may not have been based in fact. It was semi-interesting but wasn't really what I was interested in. I read about 80% of it and then closed the book. However, for someone interested in the topic, it probably would hold their interest. It just wasn't for me.
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