We, Robots

We, Robots

Staying Human in the Age of Big Data

Book - 2015
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Can technology solve all our problems? Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many of our most famous journalists, pundits, and economists seem to think so. According to them, "intelligent machines" and big data will free us from work, educate our children, transform our environment, and even make religion more user-friendly. This is the story they're telling us: that we should stop worrying and love our robot future. But just because you tell a story over and over again doesn't make it true. Curtis White, one of our most brilliant and perceptive social critics, knows all about the danger of a seductive story, and in We, Robots, he tangles with the so-called thinkers who are convinced that the future is rose-colored and robotically enhanced. With tremendous erudition and a punchy wit, White argues that we must be skeptical of anyone who tries to sell us on technological inevitability. And he gives us an alternative set of stories: taking inspiration from artists as disparate as Sufjan Stevens, Lars von Trier, and François Rabelais, White shows us that by looking to art, we can imagine a different kind of future--no robots required. -- Front jacket flap.
Publisher: Brooklyn : Melville House, [2015]
ISBN: 1612194559 (hardback)
9781612194554 (hardback)
Branch Call Number: 128 WHI
Characteristics: xvii, 284 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm

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Not so much a book about the nuts & bolts of big data and artificial intelligence; more a debunking of present-day technophilia as mere public relations for a capitalism as bloody in tooth and nail as it ever has been. White's flaying of the hucksters is so merciless it left me laughing out loud, particularly the "Buddhism without religion" vogue in Silicon Valley. But his solution, "Back to the Romantics!," seems to me tired and isolated. The whole point is that the digital social media octopus can immediately appropriate anything spontaneous and life-affirming in a Warholian 15 minutes. The fact is that today a contemporary Byron would reduce CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE to a series of tweets.

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