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Singularity Rising: Surviving and Thriving in a Smarter, Richer, and More Dangerous World Paperback – October 16, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1936661657 ISBN-10: 1936661659

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BenBella Books (October 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936661659
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936661657
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #379,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Many books are fun and interesting, but Singularity Rising is fun and interesting while focusing on some of the most important pieces of humanity's most important problem.”
Luke Muehlhauser, Executive Director, Singularity Institute

“The arrow of progress may kick upwards into a booming curve or it may terminate in an existential zero. What it will not do is carry on as before. With great insight and forethought, Miller’s Singularity Rising prepares us for the forking paths ahead by teasing out the consequences of an artificial intelligence explosion and by staking red flags on the important technological problems of the next three decades.”
Peter Thiel, self-made technology billionaire and co-founder of the Singularity Summit

“We've waited too long for a thorough, articulate, general-audience account of modern thinking on exponentially increasing machine intelligence and its risks and rewards for humanity. Miller provides exactly that, and I hope and expect that his book will greatly raise the quality of debate and research in this critical area.”
Aubrey de Grey, leading biomedical gerontologist and former AI researcher

“How can we be intelligent about superintelligence? Its finessed agility steers its course through the terrain of analytics and into the salty basin of awareness. It is wise. It is a nonpartisan player. It flirts freely with friendliness. Miller understands this, even if his approach is at times jolting. Singularity Rising, by default, turns the reader to question the true value of intelligence and hopefully realize that it must be found in the bosom of its wisdom.”
Natasha Vita-More, Chairman, Humanity+; editor, The Transhumanist Reader

“There are things in this book that could mess with your head.”
Vernor Vinge, computer scientist, Hugo Award-winning author of A Fire Upon the Deep, essayist of "The Coming Technological Singularity"

About the Author

James D. Miller is an associate professor of economics at Smith College and was a speaker at the 2008 Singularity Summit. He has a JD from Stanford where he was on Law Review and a PhD from the University of Chicago where his dissertation advisor was a Nobel Prize winner. He is a columnist for BetterInvesting Magazine and regularly wrote for during the tech bubble. The Singularity Institute called Miller’s work “important” and relevant to its core mission.

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Customer Reviews

This is a wide ranging book.
Bill y
If this is your first time reading about Singularity, I recommend you read another book first to get a firm grip on the fundamentals.
Mike Haydon
Many assumptions and estimations are stated as if they are fact with little or no explanation.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By John Schmelzle on December 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As has often been the case, I find a book that I really enjoy and then look for another book on the same topic only to be disappointed. In this case, I was looking to read more about the singularity from the economic side after reading Ray Kurzweil's bestseller "The Singularity is Near." This book spends very little time discussing "Surviving and Thriving in a Smarter, Richer, and More Dangerous World" as the title of the book would indicate. Therefore, it would be a good idea to know what the book is about before purchasing it. The book basically has three parts.

Part I Rise of the Robots: This part was somewhat interesting although, at the time, I felt it went off topic as to what a post Singularity world would be like. Most of the discussion was on the chances of an artificial intelligents (AI) taking over the world. He goes very deep into this topic discussing numerous scenarios in great detail on how AI could lead the destruction of humanity. (not what I was expecting)

Part II We become smarter without AI: This part really seemed to lose focus. The author starts out talking about IQ. He tries to tie IQ to economic growth and then starts talking about how IQ is genetic. He then talks about how people will use genetic engineering to increase the IQ of their children. He insists that the Chinese will start a program to create a race of super intelligent people. After this he starts discussing how drugs could be used to enhance a person's intelligence. I really started to wonder if this guy should be on ADD medication. Interestingly enough (and this is no lie) the author started to talk about how he started experimenting with different ADHD medications to increase his IQ.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mr. Miller somehow manages to take all the fun out of this absolutely fascinating topic. My biggest complaint is the astounding preponderance of unsubstantiated conjecture. The book reads like so much guesswork rather than a thoughtfully researched and carefully cultivated study. Many assumptions and estimations are stated as if they are fact with little or no explanation. In the style of a true economist the author often extrapolates and infers outcomes from incomplete and overly simplified models. While I understand the topic inherently deals in the hypothetical, any type of data points are few and far between and the narrative often digresses into irrelevant tangents and speculation. To add insult to injury the tone of the book is smug and pretentious with the author continually relating cheesy personal antecdotes, name dropping and even outright bragging about his supposed intellectual prowess. This is all truly unfortunate as what could have been a spectacularly intriguing examination comes off light on insight and rife with that brand of irksome arrogance so endemic to academics.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By John R. Lott Jr. on October 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
This may be a path breaking book. What will the world be like when Artificial Intelligence is at least as smart as people? James Miller uses some straightforward economics and gets predictions that will blow your mind. To Miller, short of a nuclear war the dramatic changes in society seem inevitable.

Increased life expectancy. People will find themselves less willing to take physically risky jobs since you will now be giving up more years of expected life if you are killed. But won't that also mean that people will take greater financial risks because if they lose money on an investment, they will have more time to recover. (Note also that the cost of some types of violent crime will also increase and the cost of other crime may fall.)

Education. Miller argues that traditional education will gradual disappear as people can simply plug in a computer chip into their brain. Surely, for simply learning facts, why spend the time memorizing facts when a computer chip can provide you with more information than you could possibly memorize. One thing that Miller points out is surely right about: a lot of the educational investments that people have made will quickly become obsolete. He briefly discusses how education will change, possibly the emphasis will be more on learning how to better use the information that is available. Surely, AI improvements might also allow you to substitute raw computer power for this type of learning also. But for people who will be overwhelmed with all this information and possibilities, I can easily see schooling helping people cope with this power and using it most effectively.

Sex. Just a porn has replaced sex for some people today, will the effect be even greater when extremely human like robots can replace real people.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Christopher D Johnson on November 1, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The idea of the Singularity has been under discussion since Vernor Vinge coined the term in 1993, but it wasn't until Ray Kurzweil's "The Singularity is Near" in 2005 that the debate really entered the broader mainstream. Unfortunately, in the seven years since, the debate itself hasn't progressed much beyond the original talking points. Kurzweil argues for the power of exponential growth in information processing and the downstream effects that will have on biotech, robotics, AI and nanotech. Critics question whether Moore's Law can continue, whether it's possible to reverse engineer the brain, whether neurons can be modeled in silico, etc. In many respects, the whole debate seems to be awaiting further developments in technology to clarify whose assumptions are right.

One of the topics largely MIA in this debate has been a rigorous look at the social and economic changes in the decades prior to a Singularity. Technologists tend to focus on the specific technologies that may or may not appear on that road, but few have brought a formal economics background to examine the effects on broader sectors like education, child selection, life insurance, etc.

As an economics professor, James Miller brings that disciplinary "lens" to the debate, and the field is richer for his contribution. I heard him speak at the 2008 Singularity Summit and found his talk to be one of the most thought-provoking because of his focus on societal implications and rational decision-making. Thus, when this book appeared, I was eager to learn more about how to think rationally about possible economic implications IF a Singularity transition is in our future.

On the plus side, Miller takes an admirably agnostic view on HOW the Singularity might appear.
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