“Neither alarmist nor affirmative [MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE] contain[s] urgent, compelling and relevant calls to consciously embed our values in the systems we design, and to critically engage with our choices…. Before welcoming our robotic overlords, read [this] book.” (New Scientist)
“John Markoff of The New York Times highlights the compelling contrast between AI and intelligence amplification (IA). He chronicles the fascinating and often antagonistic evolution of these fields since 1956, when both terms were coined.” (Nature)
“Markoff did his homework and capably tackles interesting things.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“[F]ascinating, informative, thought-provoking…” (San Jose Mercury News)
“A detailed, engrossing history of robotics…This revealing look at profound technological and economic developments will unsettle anyone who has a job to lose.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Readers who like their history with a little personality will enjoy this detailed exploration of the development of computers and robotics as assistive or control technologies and the people who make it happen.” (Library Journal)
“Will robots of the future be our partners or our Frankenstein’s monster? You should read this book. As Markoff explains in this engrossing narrative filled with colorful characters and head-snapping insights, the answer is up to us.” (Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and The Innovators)
“How should we balance what machines can do for us, and what they can help us do ourselves? Markoff hits on one of the central questions in technology today. A fascinating read.” (Tony Fadell, CEO of Nest)
“Machines of Loving Grace is the first comprehensive study to place [robots] in the context of the cloud-based intelligence that throws a game-changer at the question: ‘But what will they do for brains?’” (George Dyson, author of Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe)
“I devoured this book like an espionage thriller because the fate of humanity is on the line, and Markoff’s narrative is so engaging.” (Oren Etzioni, CEO of The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence)
“John Markoff has been seeing around the corners of the technology revolution throughout his career. Now he uses his full range of vision and experience to examine whether humans can make peace with the coming wave of smart machines. His view is intelligent, illuminating and, yes, optimistic.” (John Hollar, president and CEO of the Computer History Museum)
From the Back Cover
Robots are poised to transform today's society as completely as the Internet did twenty years ago. Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times science writer John Markoff argues that we must decide to design ourselves into our future, or risk being excluded from it altogether.
In the past decade, Google introduced us to driverless cars; Apple debuted Siri, a personal assistant that we keep in our pockets; and an Internet of Things connected the smaller tasks of everyday life to the farthest reaches of the Web. Robots have become an integral part of society on the battlefield and the road; in business, education, and health care. Cheap sensors and powerful computers will ensure that in the coming years, these robots will act on their own. This new era offers the promise of immensely powerful machines, but it also reframes a question first raised more than half a century ago, when the intelligent machine was born. Will we control these systems, or will they control us?
In Machines of Loving Grace, John Markoff offers a sweeping history of the complicated and evolving relationship between humans and computers. In recent years, the pace of technological change has accelerated dramatically, posing an ethical quandary. If humans delegate decisions to machines, who will be responsible for the consequences? As Markoff chronicles the history of automation, from the birth of the artificial intelligence and intelligence augmentation communities in the 1950s and 1960s, to the modern-day brain trusts at Google and Apple in Silicon Valley, and on to the expanding robotics economy around Boston, he traces the different ways developers have addressed this fundamental problem and urges them to carefully consider the consequences of their work. We are on the brink of the next stage of the computer revolution, Markoff argues, and robots will profoundly transform modern life. Yet it remains for us to determine whether this new world will be a utopia. Moreover, it is now incumbent upon the designers of these robots to draw a bright line between what is human and what is machine.
After nearly forty years covering the tech industry, Markoff offers an unmatched perspective on the most drastic technology-driven societal shifts since the introduction of the Internet. Machines of Loving Grace draws on an extensive array of research and interviews to present an eye-opening history of one of the most pressing questions of our time, and urges us to remember that we still have the opportunity to design ourselves into the future—before it's too late.