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Manna: Two Visions of Humanity's Future by [Brain, Marshall]
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Manna: Two Visions of Humanity's Future Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 131 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • File Size: 233 KB
  • Print Length: 79 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: BYG Publishing, Inc.; 1 edition (March 5, 2012)
  • Publication Date: March 5, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007HQH67U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,426 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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This is the first instance I've seen where the real future problem is identified. That problem is that we have become so efficient few of us need to work any longer. However, our society is built about working to support ourselves. With fewer and fewer people working, the economic divide turns into a chasm. One way to explore issues is to take them to the limit. What happens if there is no work for anyone to do? Then everyone is poor, right?

Well, Marshall Brain is suggesting how we need to start swerving right now. He guides us by contrasting the path we are on with the path we all could enjoy.

I praise him for his insights. The book was a pleasure to read and thought provoking (and thought reinforcing).
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