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After On: A Novel of Silicon Valley Hardcover – August 1, 2017
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Advance praise for After On
“Enter a near-future Silicon Valley that is hilariously, creepily, mind-bogglingly fantastic, yet at the same time all too believable. It might turn out this way. No, really, it might! Along with After On’s diabolically ingenious plot, there are crazy-plausible web startups, delicious parodies of social media, and a surprisingly convincing theory of human consciousness.”—Chris Anderson, head of TED
“Reading After On is like attending a master class in nearly every major issue haunting not only the tech industry but society itself. Only the professor is also a stand-up comic with a perfect ear for the foibles of Silicon Valley’s most sacred cows. Part AI thriller, part arch social commentary, and part rollicking farce, After On will leave you smarter about just about everything the human species needs to work on if we’re going to outlive our own creations—and our obsessions with them.”—John Battelle, co-founder, NewCo, Federated Media, and Wired
“The future is already here—it’s just for those who read Reid!”—Steve Jurvetson, venture capitalist, Draper Fisher Jurvetson
“Rob Reid doesn’t write science fiction; he writes future history. After On is the best account I’ve read of how superintelligence will arrive and what it will mean for all of us. Hilarious, frightening, believable, and marvelously constructed—After On has it all.”—Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool
“After On is smart, hilarious, and properly cynical about our connected world. The story unfolds in surprising and fiendish ways, and while you’re laughing you’ll learn enough to confound a wily MBA, manipulate a board of directors, and maybe even outfox a superintelligence.”—Ken Fisher, founder and editor in chief, Ars Technica
“Topics like AI, neuroscience, quantum computing, and gene splicing are usually both a blessing and a curse: incredibly fascinating material explained super-boringly. After On manages to be an exception to the rule, weaving all of those topics into a funny, delightful story that’s full of surprises.”—Tim Urban, creator, Wait But Why
“Rips the lid off Silicon Valley! And what lies beneath.”—Stewart Brand, creator, Whole Earth Catalog
“What makes this thriller so spine-tingling is how close it is to the bleeding edge of real AI. This is a mind-blowing glimpse of a future we might actually be building right now.”—Chris Anderson, CEO, 3DR, and former editor in chief, Wired
About the Author
Rob Reid founded Listen.com, which built the pioneering online music service Rhapsody, and created the unlimited subscription model since adopted by Apple, Spotify, and many others. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Year Zero, a work of fiction; Year One, a memoir about student life at Harvard Business School; and Architects of the Web, the first true business history of the Internet. He lives in New York City with his wife, Morgan, and Ashby the Dog.
Top customer reviews
For people in the tech world, characters they know will frequently emerge. Or characters they think they know. Zuba is my favorite, resembling some of the brightest people I’ve ever met. I’m trying to not identify too closely to some of the scum characters, but they are not really farfetched. And Pugwash lives! (Don’t try to parse.)
Finishing the story leaves you second-guessing all kinds of current research and services. Is this site's Terms of Service really acceptable at all? What choice have we? How far lost is our legal system? How irrelevant or just misguided is our government? Should we clamp down on tech now? How could we? How much of a crap shoot is our future really? Not food for thought, more like a banquet.
The idea of a super AI has some very smart people alarmed. Stephen Hawking warned, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Elon Musk mused that “we are summoning the demon.” Read After On for an alternative scenario.
Disclosure: Rob’s a friend, I read an early copy, and I'm enjoying the final version.
This one's got everything.
Hack VCs, well-meaning micro-VCs and angels, desperate startups, canny founders, the fatigued viewpoint of Dot-Bomb survivors, the new City kids. Some likable characters, some detestable ones, and some you like though you know you ought to hate them. All the hot tech areas and toys and zeitgeist. An emergent human-like AI from a smarmy social / hookup web service who models herself on 8th-grade cool-girl cliques. Spooks and an uber-uber shadow government entity called The Authority. Omni-surveillance. Everything bad (and good!) about social networking. A possibly existential arms race for super AI. High-end design types whose concerns are transcendently abstract and pretentious. Novel and credible scientific conjectures about several disparate fields, including a theory of consciousness and the multiple-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics vis-a-vis quantum computing. The Fermi Paradox. The Simulation Hypothesis. The Fine-Tuning Argument. Nuclear brinksmanship. Terrorist plots, bioterror. Pascal's Wager. Ethics. The word "artisanal."
Throw Neal Stephenson (particularly early stuff) in a blender with Chuck Palahniuk, Doug Coupland, and Daniel Suarez. And William Hertling. Season to taste with the output of Breaking Smart, Next Big Future, a random sampling Hacker News. Sprinkle with Charlie Nox. Wave a vial of extract of synsepalum dulcificum (miraculin) over the glass like you would vermouth over a proper martini. Serve chilled over perfectly spherical dry ice cubes in a co-branded OkCupid and Singularity University martini glass.
All steeped in Valley and startup history, culture and sooo au contemps. Delivered in smart, witty, slightly snarky prose thats always fun and frequently funny. Lots of cultural critique mixed with good writing and a good story. Yes there's a bit of fan-service, but it's fan-everything and slightly hipster in its irony. I love this book. It bleeds relevance and humorous insight from every page, and has enough tech "meat" on its bones to satisfy. This isn't near-future; it's today. Or tomorrow. Next week at the latest. After On is now one of my new all-time favorites.
Most recent customer reviews
Too tedious. Too wordy. Too confusing. I liked the last 30 pages also.Read more