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Manna: Two Visions of Humanity's Future [Kindle Edition]

Marshall Brain
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $0.99
 
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  • Length: 79 pages (estimated)
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Book Description

Robots will soon begin taking human jobs in places like retail stores, fast food restaurants, construction sites and transportation. The key technology that will fuel the transition is inexpensive computer vision systems, and the number of human jobs at risk numbers in the tens of millions. More than half of the jobs in the United States could be eliminated.

With half of the jobs eliminated by robots, what happens to all the people who are out of work? Marshall Brain's book Manna explores the possibilities and shows two contrasting outcomes, one filled with great hope and the other quite uncomfortable.

Join Marshall Brain, founder of HowStuffWorks.com, for a skillful step-by-step walk through the robotic transition, the collapse of the human job market that results and an surprising look at humanity's future in a post-robotic world.

Then consider our options. Which vision of the future will society choose to follow?

About the Author

Marshall Brain is best known as the founder of HowStuffWorks.com. Marshall started the site as a hobby in 1998 and it was purchased for $250 million by Discovery Communications in 2007.

As a well-known public speaker, Marshall frequently appears on radio and TV programs nationwide. He has appeared on everything from The Oprah Winfrey Show to CNN. He is the host of National Geographic's "Factory Floor With Marshall Brain".

Marshall has written more than a dozen books and a number of widely known publications.

Today Marshall resides in Cary, NC with his wife and four children.

You can learn more about Marshall Brain at http://MarshallBrain.com


Product Details


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
(87)
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A few days ago (March 3, 2012) I heard Marshall Brain give a
riveting talk to the Stanford Transhumanist Association.
What will be the fate of humanity in a future world
populated by supersmart AIs and robots.
His message: basically, we're toast.

According to Brain, the future will bring increasing unemployment
as broad swaths of humanity are replaced by robots. As a consequence,
wealth will continue to concentrate in the hands of a privileged few,
with the great majority (the 99%) being forced into grinding poverty.
(You've heard this before from, say, Karl Marx - but it gets even more bleak.)

As the AIs become ever more powerful they may come to regard
us first as chimpanzees, then as chickens, and finally as bacteria.
How will the AIs deal with us? Possibilities include extermination,
zoos, prisons, and tailor-made virtual reality utopias
(Heavenly or Eden-like versions of The Matrix.)

Scary stuff, but is it true? Yeah, it might happen.

In a brief chat afterward, I told him the best
I could see for humanity in a post-Singularity world
was planet Earth as a retirement home for humanity - watched over
by "machines of loving grace." Perhaps not the exuberant vision
that you're used to, but not that different from real life.
Now, you get old and die, but you get to see
an improved, next generation carry the torch forward.
Post-Singularity, it's just that the machines are carrying the torch
(directing planetary affairs, doing the real innovation, and going to the stars.)

Ok, now back to the book. Having been primed for a nonstop trip
to Hell, the vision portrayed in the book was actually a relief.
Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Manna slavery to post-scarcity open-source society March 11, 2012
By Jarek
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Manna short story carries two powerful, yet plausible messages about our near future. In this story advancing machine intelligence amplifies the lost of democracy and the concentration of wealth. Robert Reich's Supercapitalism wins. Or so it seems - open source anarchy to the rescue!
An interesting and eye opening trip.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Visionary May 11, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This thought provoking novella is a must read! Unfortunately, the utopian resource-based economy described in the latter half of the book is much less likely to occur than the oppressive Orwellian structure of future societies dominated by a wealthy minority in charge of the robots. Inevitably, robotic technology will advance and machines will replace a significant number of people in the work force. In fact, there is overwhelming evidence that the working and middle classes are in the process of becoming obsolete. It's only a matter of long it will take.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even With Only 79 Pages, It Will Blow Your MInd August 30, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book sure is something else.

I've been digging into the whole 'post-scarcity economy' thing for years after having first been introduced to the concept by Jacques Fresco of The Venus Project [...], James P. Hogan's "Voyage from Yesteryear" and The Culture Series from Ian Banks. I've seen the dystopian version from The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson and Counting Heads by David Marusek.

But this book Manna, drives the science fiction into the harsh limelight of the soon-to-be future. It doesn't even require real AI or advanced nanotechnology to achieve it. It all starts with a desktop computer in a back office and radio headset like they wear at the fast food restaurants.

After reading this book, you'll never look at those employees wearing those headsets the same way again.

After reading this book, you'll be wanting to find out where you can sign up for the post-scarcity civilization as how it should be.

The book is simple, told in a narrative style by the protagonist much in the same style as Jules Verne, in my view. But that's the point: The plot is only supposed to be the vehicle to show you what is coming and how we can adapt to it as a new phase of civilization dawns on humanity.

Certain details get overlooked in the process, such as how some of the things the expert software system MANNA tells/does to the employees that would get that employer in hot water with the lawyers (especially in California). But then again those details don't really matter, as the reader becomes convinced that the paradigm shift of robots taking away 90% of human jobs will happen no matter what kind of obstacles are placed in its way.

For 99 cents and only 79 pages of reading time, this book is worth its weight in gold.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Marshall posted on Facebook that he had made his book (the Kindle version), Manna, and a few others available for free for a few days so I grabbed it, not knowing if I would read it or not. However, I did read it and found it thought provoking. While I don't personally prescribe to either of his alternate future predictions, they could happen and the joy of reading the book is allowing him to take you on the journey of possibility. I felt the ending was abrupt as I was just getting into the possibilities an "Austrailia Project" could hold, but I think Marshall felt he had made his point (and the point wasn't just telling a story). I'm surprised how much I enjoyed reading the book and would recommend it for others. It is certainly worth the money (regularly priced at $0.99)! :-)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars We gotta fight the current system to make a bright future
Well thought out description of two seemingly extreme paths that are both very possible indeed... We have the tech to go in either direction. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Kristian Mandrup
4.0 out of 5 stars I think the writing and the storytelling were better in the opening...
I fell that the technical plausibility and technical detail of this work was spot-on, and that the dystopia presented in the first half of the book was both believable and... Read more
Published 7 days ago by mds1016
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
thought provoking. Exactly what I was looking for.
Published 11 days ago by Stuart Matthews
5.0 out of 5 stars Just read this book (whether you agree with it or not doesn't matter)
This book felt in places like a promotion of socialism, which I abhor, but at the same time there's a lot of brilliant thinking here. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth reading!
It's just as the book title says but still very surprising. A short but very enjoyable read.
Published 25 days ago by GregSydneyAus
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful little story
I came across this book at the right time and it really cheered me up. Of course, the alternate reality suggested is a long way from the here and now.. Read more
Published 2 months ago by droto
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. It's available for free on his website ...
Great book. It's available for free on his website and I enjoyed it so much that I thought he deserved the purchase.
Published 2 months ago by Blake
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the futures...
A very engaging little work somewhere between a short story and a novella. I found the dystopian side a bit more plausible, given what has been revealed to us about human nature... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Geoffrey Dewan
5.0 out of 5 stars Manna is a great book that brings to light the social issues we ...
Manna is a great book that brings to light the social issues we face in America today. It is beautifully compossed and leaves the reader to think about innovative ideas of how to... Read more
Published 2 months ago by KC
5.0 out of 5 stars worth reading
This book challenges you to think about the big picture. Also about what changes would benefit BOTH the individual and society as a whole. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Rose Y. Rosenthal
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