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

Marshall Brain
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

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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, 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 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

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 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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6 of 6 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great analysis of future possibility. November 29, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is obvious that this is not about the tech, but about how we use it. It is meant to give us two possible outcomes of labor being replaced by robots. At this it does a very good job and makes the reader think about their role in the future of humanity.
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2 of 2 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best read in a long time. August 9, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I just loved this book. Never would have expected it to turn out the way it did. Hope I can find more by this Author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Manna August 6, 2013
By Brogs
Format:Kindle Edition
Free energy and labor will enslave or free us. Now is the time to decide. This book paints a realistic future for us to choose from.
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1 of 1 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
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Ideas But Written Like a Late 19th Century Social Tract...
This is a fascinating story that I found out about from a message board discussion of the effect that automation is having on society and will have in the future, which evolved... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Pat Powers
5.0 out of 5 stars compelling
Really got me thinking about where we might be going as a species. Insightful and hopeful. Worth reading for sure
Published 15 days ago by yogi
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent start, a bit weaker by the end
If there was a chance for you to review segments of a book it would be this one. The first chapters of the book are nothing short of mind-blowing. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Arturo
5.0 out of 5 stars important and disturbing prediction of our future.
I wish it was a longer book but he did get his point across. I will take his advice and become proactive about which future we end up experiencing.
Published 25 days ago by Jonathan W Cole
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun speculative fiction for a buck with some problems.
Pretty convincing, but some problems:

1. Teens making minimum wage without adult supervision will steal the fast food restaurants blind. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars but I bought it to be a good patron. Frankly rather creepy to think...
Keep in mind when this book was written. The future it predicts has nearly come to pass and certainly will continue to arrive in the coming years. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Jenna L Hoeler
3.0 out of 5 stars terrible writing. This is an open-source anti-capitalist screed
Interesting concepts, uninteresting proselytizing, non-existent characterization, terrible writing. This is an open-source anti-capitalist screed, not a novel -- which I would... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Zachary Lome
5.0 out of 5 stars Two possible futures that seem extremely plausible - Good Job
When I saw the title "Manna" I thought this was a religious book but it came as a recommendation from one of the guys at work so I read it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Christopher
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully small seed for a very big idea.
Encapsulates why so many people are simultaneously attracted to and made deeply uneasy by the products of the information revolution. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Alex Bowles
3.0 out of 5 stars The world changes, but Utopia is constant
The vision of Australia in this book is strikingly similar to Edward Bellamy's "Looking backwards from 2000 to 1887" (Available for free at gutenberg. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Per Stangeland
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