To Be A Machine Book Summary - To Be A Machine Book explained in key points
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To Be A Machine summary

Mark O’Connell

Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death

4.4 (43 ratings)
21 mins
Table of Contents

    To Be A Machine
    summarized in 7 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 7

    Transhumanism provides new answers to questions as old as humanity itself.

    Have you ever wanted to live forever? To possess superhuman intelligence or strength? Or even to be raised from the dead?

    The popularity of transhumanism lies in the fact that it responds to aspirations like these, and engages with the most persistent and tantalizing desires of humankind.

    From time immemorial, the stories that we’ve told ourselves have conjured up visions of supernatural powers, immortality, and natural abundance. And for equally long, we’ve used myths and fables to explain away the hardships of life, like death, illness, and pain.

    The Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest written story we possess, tells the story of a king who ventures across the earth in search of everlasting life. But that’s just one example. 

    The Bible engages with similar themes. With the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, humanity was doomed to experience mortality, and to undergo the sufferings that characterize human life.

    Stories like these have remained compelling for millennia. But with the decline of faith and the growth of science, something important has changed. Thanks to a whole host of emerging technologies, we can now begin to think of our human frailties as solvable.

    That’s where transhumanism comes in. The vocabulary is new, and the ideas are cutting-edge, but the quest for immortality and an end to suffering is as old as humanity itself.

    Transhumanists believe that we can halt aging; that we can use technology to improve our minds and bodies; and, ultimately, that we can literally unite our physical bodies with ever-advancing technology, and approach cyborgism in the process. In this way, they propose to liberate us from the limitations of our biology.

    In some cases, the science underlying transhumanist goals is contested. In others, the ideas just seem plain crazy. Either way, these blinks will familiarize you with the ins and outs of transhumanism, allowing you to make that decision for yourself.

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    What is To Be A Machine about?

    To Be a Machine (2017) charts the strange, emerging world of transhumanism, taking an honest look at the men and women working on undreamed-of new technologies. In this book, Mark O'Connell describes the people who are attempting to evade death, create hyper-intelligent machines, and even hack their own bodies.

    Best quote from To Be A Machine

    This was what we did as a species, after all: we built ingenious devices, and we destroyed things.

    —Mark O’Connell
    example alt text

    Who should read To Be A Machine?

    • Science buffs interested in the next big thing
    • Futurists anxious about the fate of humankind
    • Fans of science fiction looking to realize their dreams

    About the Author

    Mark O’Connell is an award-winning literary critic, journalist, and essayist from Ireland, with a PhD in English from Trinity College Dublin. He has contributed to the Observer, the New York Times Book Review and the Dublin Review. He is also the author of Notes From an Apocalypse.

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