To Be a Machine
Adventures among cyborgs, utopians, hackers, and the futurists solving the modest problem of death
Non-Fiction, Transhumanism, Medical Ethics
Published by Granta/Granta Books
An engaging and often astounding exploration of transhumanism, the philosophical and technological movement that is working on an update of the human machine.
Transhumanism is a movement whose aim is to use technology to fundamentally change the human condition, to improve our bodies and minds to the point where we become something other, and better, than the animals we are. It’s a philosophy that, depending on how you look at it, can seem hopeful, or terrifying, or absurd. In ‘To Be a Machine’, Mark O’Connell presents us with the first full-length exploration of transhumanism: its philosophical and scientific roots, its key players and possible futures. From charismatic techies seeking to enhance the body to immortalists who believe in the possibility of ‘solving’ death; from computer programmers quietly redesigning the world to vast competitive robotics conventions; ‘To Be a Machine’ is an Adventure in Wonderland for our time.
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“A conversational, approachable book… It’s O’Connell’s lack of stridency, as well as his often splendid writing, that makes him such a companionable guide.”
“[A] beautifully written book … lucid, brilliant and mordant … O’Connell is a very, very funny writer and he inserts himself Ronson-like into a series of absurd, ironic and alarming situations … By exposing the ludicrous yet terrifyingly serious ideologies behind transhumanism, ‘To Be a Machine’ is an important book, as well as a seriously funny one.”