We Robots Staying Human in the Age of Big Data is Ebook Take this review with a grain of salt I did not finish the book I was however immediately struck with how disrespec
We, Robots: Staying Human in the Age of Big Data is Ebook Take this review with a grain of salt: I did not finish the book.I was, however, immediately struck with how disrespectful and arrogant of a tone White strikes from even the introductory paragraphs. White writes with the same self-assurance and dismissive style that one sees in works of his nemesis: Richard Dawkins. Like reading Dawkins, if you are not already a total convert to his message, you will be liable to be more annoyed than convinced by the content of this book. Full disclosure: nearly a decade ago, as an atheist myself, I was reading Dawkins and was sympathetic to his message and could appreciate his humor. Since then, I have soured considerably on the smug over-confidence of the neo-Atheist movement and its reluctance to be fair in its discussion of the potential for personal and societal good that spirituality can represent and more nuanced religious views. I am also awed by Jaron Lanier and skeptical of the over-emphasis on technological and chemical "fixes" of Western society. So I really thought I would be in good company with this book.After wading through the occasionally-amusing, but most often rambling first dozen pages, my attention got stuck on a passage where White appears to dismiss Darwin's ideas because he wasn't correct about some of the more recent subspecies of hominoids. The tone with which Darwin was cast aside for failing to get absolutely every detail correct over a hundred years later was a little jarring. So, rather than finish the first chapter on Money-Bot, I decided to switch to the Science chapter and gauge my level of interest in finishing the book. Lets just say that I am glad I saved myself the time. White's approach seems to be to conflate, then castigate a handful of popular science writers and the couple of actual scientists whose (popularized) works he has read for highly specific language in specific articles or quotes. For example, he goes on for dozens of pages about Michael Shermer's writings in Scientific American, pulling quotes from these articles and holding up these 'straw men' as if these specific statements from one guy, in a pop-sci journal, represent the entirety of scientific thinking. In doing so, he manages to be as bull-headed in his arguments as the people he targets, while also revealing the depth of his ignorance about the actual science he is sneering about.Bonus points for his heavy use of semantic arguments (i.e. "So-and-so says that this indicates x. But how does one even interpret the definition of the word x? Let me now subject you to a lengthy description of my definition of the word x.") I found reading this book to be about as coherent, fun, and thought-provoking as a dictionary composed by a highly cranky editor. . In the tradition of Jaron Lanier s You Are Not a Gadget, a rousing, sharply argued and, yes, inspiring reckoning with our blind faith in technology 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 willIn the tradition of Jaron Lanier s You Are Not a Gadget, a rousing, sharply argued and, yes, inspiring reckoning with our blind faith in technology 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 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 Fran ois Rabelais, White shows us that by looking to art, we can imagine a different kind of future No robots required.From the Hardcover edition.. The best Kindle We, Robots: Staying Human in the Age of Big Data 2.5 stars.This was a difficult book for me to review but here it goes. This is the rather simplistic best I can do. Some the things I likedI do agree that today belief in the scientific view and the "objectivity" of it has become as faith based and often as non-objective as various religious views. Those beliefs have created some questionable delusions such as disbelief in climate change, overuse of antibiotics and pesticides, obsession with technology as the ultimate reality and a culture of sterility. The belief that technology is only good and will create a world where all our needs and desires are met is also rarely challenged.Capitalism has teamed with technology and the scientific view to gain control of a huge portion of world resources for the unlimited profit of the few. This group of people is not just located in the US but is a worldwide elite class. Class differences have become even more extreme. The author includes an "entourage" class of service personnel who spend their careers serving the affluent and powerful. To the goal of profits many areas of our lives have been turned into advertising and justification for these ends.In several sections he addresses what he sees as modern day ideologies and how they have manipulated our perceptions. Money-bot, STEM-bot (science technology, engineering and math), Buddha-bot, Eco-bot and Art-bot are the areas he tackles. In each he demonstrates how these ideas have been manipulated by corporate interests to their own benefit.One of the sections I most related to was the description of how Western Buddhism has been turned into a product to support corporate ends and persuade people their discontents are their failings and not systemic. He quotes: David Loy author of A New Buddhist Path"Buddhism offers an alternative approach: the path is really about personal transformation….not to qualify for a blissful afterlife but to live in a different way here and now" Some of the things I disliked.He had a level of superiority about his view that was annoyingly snarky and dismissive in tone. His diversions into, what for me, were obscure areas of philosophy, not clearly applied to the topic and seemed like showing off. It seemed more like a hindrance for those of us less knowledgeable of Western philosophy. I have some basic knowledge but this was too much for me. And to be honest, philosophy dominated by white men just doesn't always resonate with me.Even without that background I can see the problems and effects he addresses. Turn on a t.v., listen to the radio or visit the internet and the agendas are clear. How to make that visible to enough people who will say no more of this to make a difference is the difficulty.Overall, it was an okay read but could have been more accessible.