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Talking to Robots: Tales from Our Human Robot Futures (Dutton-Penguin)

Talking to Robots: Tales from Our Human Robot Futures (Dutton-Penguin)

Out on July 16, 2019 – Preorder Now!

- Book Description
- Reviews and Comments
- Related Articles by David


Robot of the Week

Each week from June 24 to July 19 we will feature one of the 24 robots in Talking to Robots: Tales from Our Human-Robot Futures. Check out each robot’s special page. Featured bots (which might change): Teddy Bot, Sex Bot, Doc Bot, Synthetic Me Bot and Digital Me Bot, God Bot, and Politician Bot. Each “Robot of the Week” features illustrations, news about that bot, excerpts from the appropriate chapter, and information on the human collaborator interviewed for the chapter. Click here for a complete list of robots and humans in the book. Click here for a complete list of robots and humans in the book

This week’s Robot: Teddy Bot,
dreamed up by Futurist Kevin Kelly

“We aren’t prepared for how emotional we will be about our Teddy Bots. We will love them like we love our closest human friends, maybe more.” – Kevin Kelly


Book Description

Talking to Robots: Tales From Our Human-Robot Futures (Dutton) features 24 robots and AI systems that are being built or dreamed about in the present – including Teddy Bot, Doc Bot, Warrior Bot, Facebook Bot, Politician Bot, Sex Bot, Matrix Bot, Immortal Me Bot, and God Bot. What’s different is that each bot is described by a narrator who is living in the future. He or she (or it?) knows how things turn out for each bot, with some of these future scenarios turning out great, others not so much. The book is a mix of nonfiction reporting and fictional plots and stories (an experiment in storytelling). Most bots include interviews with fascinating, real-life thinkers, including Kevin Kelly, Brian Greene, Tiffany Shlain, Juan Enriquez, Sunny Bates, George Church, Emily Morse, Steve Petranek, Adam Gazzaley Tim O’Reilly, Eric Topol, Rodrigo Martinez, and David Baldacci. David also has invented a new tense for the book, the present near-future. Look for the TV series that’s in the works!

Selected Reviews and Comments

Named one of Time Magazine’s “32 Books You Need to Read This Summer”

“Artificial intelligence is no longer a far-off fantasy; it’s embedded in our present. But it’s the future that award-winning journalist David Ewing Duncan explores in this riveting read consisting of 24 visions of possible human-robot futures. Potential realities include warrior bots, politician bots and teddy bots, to name a few. Duncan enlists the help of inventors, geneticists and filmmakers to unpack what these evolutions might mean — both for technology and for the future of humankind.” – Time Magazine

“Until we have a non-fiction robot that writes brilliant, insightful books (I give it 25 years), we can thank God we have David Ewing Duncan. Thanks to David’s book, I have a healthy mix of wonder and panic about the future. But more important, perhaps: I feel a bit more prepared for this radically different landscape, one where robots change everything from politics to parenting, from coffee to sex.” – AJ Jacobs, author of Drop Dead Healthy

“This book is a brilliant chronicle of encounters with our future selves, even as we already experience the vertigo of changing. Drawn from real conversations with living visionaries, Duncan takes us to the crossroads of the inevitable merging of human and machine. Splendidly written, passionately argued, and well-researched, this book is a divination tool for the arrival of either the utopia or the apocalypse.” – Andrei Codrescu, author of Raised by Puppets Only to Be Killed by Research: essays from NPR

“A refreshing variation on the will-intelligent-robots-bring-Armageddon genre… His response is not to interview experts himself but assign this task to a cheerful observer from the future who records their predictions from the Early Robot Era of the early 2000s and then describes what happens over the following decades, millennia, and until the end of time. Each chapter title describes a species of “bot,” but matters gradually grow complex. Readers will smile at the Teddy Bot, every future toddler's favorite, a stuffed animal-robot hybrid that plays games, answers questions, and provides moral guidance, safety, and perhaps even discipline. There are doc bots, warrior bots, coffee delivery bot, Amazon bots, and the inevitable sex bots. Readers seeking insight from the chapter on politician bots will discover that Donald Trump is a robot, a glitch-y, bug-ridden version whose code is easy to hack—by Russian operatives, Sean Hannity, Stormy Daniels, etc… Despite its terrible record, predicting the future exerts an endless fascination, and this colorful mixture of expert futurology and quirky speculation does not disappoint.” – Kirkus

Related Articles by David Ewing Duncan

“Creating the First Synthetic Human Genome” – Wired
Harvard geneticist George Church is creating in a lab the world’s first human genome built from scratch using synthetic biology. The DNA template he’s using belongs to the author, except that the Church lab plans to “recode” his genome to make it better.

How Science Can Build a Better YouNew York Times
How far would you go to modify yourself using the latest medical technology?

Enlisting Computers to Unravel the True Complexity of Disease – New York Times
Eric Schadt is one of a handful of scientists blending mathematics, biology and supercomputers to pursue a new understanding of human biology.

Biologists vs. EngineersThe Daily Beast
Why can’t biologists and engineers get along? Could it be the difference in the “machines” they work on?

How Humans Are Still EvolvingThe Daily Beast
As humans accelerate our impact on the earth and on ourselves, will 50,000 years of self-evolution make us better?

The Cyborg Olympic Games – Newsweek
Modern athletes are already enhanced using biology and machines. What if we took it further?

The Brain-Computer Interface That Let A Quadriplegic Woman Move A Cup – Atlantic
Picking up and drinking a cup of coffee by using thought, a computer, and a prosthetic arm.

Can AI Keep You Healthy? – Atlantic
Will robots one day help us feel better? How to make sense of the massive health data it’s becoming possible to collect on you.

Poll on Human Enhancement Shows Divided Public – Fortune
A majority of Americans oppose futuristic biological enhancements that would make them smarter or stronger.