To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death

March 17, 2017
author |
Mark O'Connell
year published |

Transhumanism, defined here as “a liberation movement advocating nothing less than a total emancipation from biology itself,” is scrutinized in this compact, provocative exploration of the techniques and technologies currently being advanced to extend human intelligence and life spans.

Slate columnist and debut author O’Connell takes an open-minded but skeptical approach to his subject as he leads the reader on a tour of modern facilities devoted to enhancing the human “meat machine”:

cryonics storehouses that freeze brains and bodies for future resuscitation
whole-brain emulation labs studying the scanning and uploading of human consciousness
robotics researchers attempting to create simulacra capable of human function
cyborg “grindhouses” crafting renegade interfaces between the body and smart technology
gerontology institutions that are trying to “cure” aging

O’Connell writes with an intellectual curiosity that makes his esoteric subject matter accessible to lay readers. He tempers his observations with the anxiety that the concept of transhumanism evokes.

He describes it as “an expression of the profound human longing to transcend the confusion and desire and impotence and sickness of the body, cowering in the darkening shadow of its own decay.” His book is a stimulating overview of modern scientific realities once thought to be the exclusive purview of science fiction. Agent: Amelia Atlas, ICM Partners. (Feb.)

— publisher