Home / Books / Talking to Robots: Tales from Our Human Robot Futures (Dutton-Penguin) (Scroll Down)

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

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

Out on July 16, 2019 –
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- Book Description
- Reviews and Comments
- Related Articles by David


Featured Robots

This summer, we will be featuring some 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, Doc Bot, Politician Bot, Sex Bot, and God Bot. Each featured robot includes 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.

Featured Robot: Politician Bot
Human Collaborators: Senator Bob Kerrey and Greg Simon

“We had two generations to adjust to changes that were brought on by the internal combustion engine. We don’t have two generations to deal with all the changes coming now from very rapid increases in computing power and microprocessing. I wonder if a democracy—which is what we have for the moment—can deal with this, and if our elected leaders can make decisions fast enough to accommodate.” – Senator Bob Kerrey

Featured Robot: Doc Bot
Human Collaborators: Eric Topol, MD; David Agus, MD; Jordan Shlain, MD

“I’d love to have a robot that was able to be with me at every visit, to interpret the data and the context… to tell me: what are the possibilities. Then I can have a real discussion and discuss your value system and what’s best for you.” – David Agus, MD

Featured Robot: Teddy Bot
Human Collaborator: 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

  • Featured: Today ShowTimeNPRUSA TodayBloomberg, and more to come.
  • Medium ran part of the “Memory Bot” chapter, featuring Tiffany Shlain, Ken Goldberg, and Odessa Shlain Goldberg.
  • Inc. Magazine ran part of the "Homo syntheticis" chapter, featuring George Church.

“For the last two years Duncan—a contributor to Vanity Fair, Wired, and the Atlantic—has been pairing his journalistic expertise with his imagination to ponder where advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence may soon take us. The result of this hybrid reporting/fantasizing process is his intensely readable, downright terrifying, and surprisingly uplifting new book… What could have been a dense read, thick with jargon and complex concepts, is surprisingly playful and tender. It’s also uniquely creative…” – Vanity Fair

One of 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

“The author interviewed about two dozen people in various fields, genetics, physics, filmmaking, writing, about the coming disruption from robots and AI. For instance, can a robot or AI write a really compelling thriller? Can they write a terrific song? …what this book really tells is the coming disruption from AI.” – David Baldacci on the Today Show, one of his recommended summer read

“A refreshing variation on the will-intelligent-robots-bring-Armageddon genre…this colorful mixture of expert futurology and quirky speculation does not disappoint.” – Kirkus

“5 books not to miss…A fascinating work of imaginative futurology.” – USA Today

“This book… is definitely worth picking up and thought-provoking to stay the least.” – Bloomberg

“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…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… 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

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.