To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death
A review of transhumanist ideas by an avowed sceptic.
Transhumanism is a difficult belief system to tackle. At its more extreme end it rests on the idea of the "singularity", the point at which scientific and technological problem-solving become so advanced that any solvable problem is solvable quickly – which of course includes the "problems" of sickness, death, brain uploading, and a host of other radical ideas. (In recent years the singularity is assumed to involve super-intelligent AI, although that wasn't originally the conception, and such AI could be regarded as a consequence rather than a cause of the singularity.)
It's an easy notion to ridicule, which this book sets out to do, and does well. But the long-term notion of accelerating progress isn't as fragile as it can be made to appear. The ideas deserve a better exploration than this book attempts. It's good for laughs and for making the participants sound like either idiots or charlatans – and maybe they are, but there's also some interesting and solid science going on that goes beyond these stereotypes, beyond those seeking publicity rather than knowledge.
3/5. Finished 15 May 2021.
(Originally published on Goodreads.)