- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books (June 2, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465058620
- ISBN-13: 978-0465058624
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #522,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Dangerous Master: How to Keep Technology from Slipping Beyond Our Control
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This book is a must-read for venture capitalists, investors, asset managers, HFT firms and day traders as well as concerned civic leaders and politicians.”
Hazel Henderson, Seeking Alpha
This appeal for deliberate and thoughtful approaches to humankind's future will find its audience among those interested in ethics, public policy, and the future of health care.”
[T]his thoughtful polemic convincingly argues that In striving to answer the question can we do this?” too few ask should we do this?”'.... Readers will admire this astute analysis while harboring the uneasy feeling that the barn door seems stuck open.”
A well-mounted argument that deserves wide consideration.”
Wallach...deliver[s] sobering assessments of today's engineering culture.... Neither alarmist nor affirmative, [A Dangerous Master] contain[s] urgent, compelling and relevant calls to consciously embed our values in the systems we design, and to critically engage with our choices.”
Hordes of technologies emerge in lockstep with warnings of their risks. Ethicist Wendell Wallach sorts the hysteria from the hazards in this magisterial study.”
"It is increasingly difficult to weigh the risks associated with new technologies against the benefits they may bring. Experts often disagree, the public is not certain whose views to trust, and politicians and the market take short-term perspectives that may not be best in deciding whether or not to plunge ahead in the face of uncertainty. A Dangerous Master gives us a balanced and timely guide to navigating the troubled waters of decision-making when new technologies appear. Read ityour uncertainty may not diminish but your ability to cope with it will increase."
Arthur Caplan, Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor of Bioethics, New York University Langone Medical Center
Wendell Wallach has done all of us a service. He has alerted us in detail, and provocatively, that there are dangers as well as gains in our national romance with innovative technologies. Like all heated romances, they can be full of drama and distress, but hard to ignore. His account of the troubled technology romance is well told, and it is one we need to hear.”
Daniel Callahan, President Emeritus, The Hastings Center
Wendell Wallach, it seems, is always a few years ahead of the rest of us. In this marvelous book, he takes us to the technological frontier and shows us where, why, and how our most promising technologies could turn on us. Wallach is levelheaded and thoughtful, combining his encyclopedic knowledge of emerging technology with a sense of history and an abiding respect for humanity. A Dangerous Master is fascinating, important, andin defiance of its own gravitya joy to read.”
Joshua Greene, Director, Harvard Moral Cognition Lab and author of Moral Tribes
"This timely book offers a balanced assessment of the upsides and risks of a wide range of fast-developing technologies. It helps us to think more clearly about what the world will be like in 2050, and deserves a wide readership."
Martin Rees, Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, University of Cambridge, and author of Universe and Just Six Numbers
"When it comes to technology, humanity is playing for supremely high stakesand it's a game we can't walk away from. In his new book A Dangerous Master, Wendell Wallach surveys a wide range of technological risks, and proposes how we humans may evade disaster, leaving the possibility of wondrously good outcomes."
Vernor Vinge, author of A Fire Upon the Deep and Rainbows End
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What is distinctive about “A Dangerous Master” is not only its comprehensive survey of such a vast terrain, but also its critical take on the risks and speculations that surround this topic. On the one hand Wallach does surely want to stress the omnipresent hazards that lurk in every corner of this brave new world. On the other hand he wants to bring our thinking about them down to earth by separating science-fiction-and-film-fueled myth from laboratory fact.
By this means Wallach wants to impress upon us that we humans still can be, and should be, in control. We need not, and should not, surrender to a supposed inevitability of machine dominance, not to mention, transformation of our very nature into something machine-like. No matter how magical the prospect seems to some (I will never forget the moment in one of our meetings when the speaker’s mention of technological magic moved several of us to reach into pocket or purse and hold up our new smartphone for the group’s awed admiration), or dystopian to others, neither the state of the art (and science) nor the inherent complexity of the issues need reduce us to ineffectual indulgence in fantasy or else utter hopelessness.
To this end Wallach highlights the notion of an inflection point, which is a brief interval at the cusp of a new development, in this case technological, where a real opportunity exists for society to assess and affect that development, sometimes even unto halting it in its tracks if it is deemed too dangerous. The book gives a case study of Wallach’s attempt to seize such a moment that now exists for the creation and global dispersal of autonomous weapons. At the same time Wallach does not want society to squelch promising and even essential new technologies due to unwarranted fears.
The book concludes with various practical suggestions for how humanity might try to achieve wise governance of our mechanical creations so that they will remain our “good servants” rather than become our “dangerous masters.”
Another example of how complexity can dominate and interfere with human control of battlefield operations was reflected in what decision makers were compelled to do during the war with Iraq in 2003. During that war, Iraq surprised American forces by employing only 5 crude but nonetheless unwelcome low-flying cruise missiles, which contributed to the Army Patriot air defense system's involvement in a series of friendly-fire incidents, two of which led to the loss of two friendly aircraft and the deaths of three crew members. What contributes to such friendly-fire incidents is the difficulty of dealing with both high-angle (ballistic missile threats) and low-flying cruise missiles. Several other explanations could be offered, but In the end, the US Army's Center for Lessons Learned argued that positive electronic means of identifying airborne objects simply have low reliability. And levels of friendly-fire incidents have been disconcertingly high in simulated war games, often producing friendly aircraft attrition rates 10 to 20 percent of more. Introducing autonomous killer robots into such complex battlefield settings deserves careful consideration, and soon. And there's no better way to start than by reading Wendell Wallach's A Dangerous Master.
Wendell Wallach has done a most admirable job of mapping the "Here be Dragons" of our future, in this sensitive, scholarly, and most clearly written work of personal commitment, A DANGEROUS MASTER.
Author, Emerging Technologies Law (2015)