As robots are increasingly integrated into modern society—on the battlefield and the road, in business, education, and health—Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times science writer John Markoff searches for an answer to one of the most important questions of our age: Will these robots help us … or will they replace us?
At the dawn of the modern computer era, two Pentagon-financed laboratories began researching artificial intelligence. At one facility, a small group of scientists and engineers worked to recreate the human mind, while at the other, a similar group worked to augment it. For the past four decades, the dichotomy between artificial intelligence and intelligence augmentation (AI versus IA) has been at the heart of the revolution in computing science. Now, as the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, automated systems are confronting their designers with fundamental moral choices that have emerged too quickly for society to weigh their consequences.
In Machines of Loving Grace, New York Times reporter John Markoff, who was the first reporter to describe the World Wide Web, explores this issue. Markoff travels across the country, from the brain trusts in Palo Alto and Silicon Valley to the expanding tech corridor between Boston—home of MIT—and New York, the latest incubator for future tech development. He evaluates the present state of the AI versus IA debate; goes deep inside the science-fiction worlds of Battlestar Galactica, Terminator, and the Jetsons, which are fast becoming a reality; and talks to the insiders—scientists, entrepreneurs, ethicists, hackers, and others—who are shaping the future. The result is an incisive and chilling look at our lives today—and what may come tomorrow. Download and start listening now!