Book reviews

There is a dizzying array of books published each year on topics including medical ethics, science and faith, and technology. As this website develops I will post my own short reviews of important and influential books by other writers in these fields, to help guide further research and thinking.

The Technological Singularity by Murray Shanahan – A thoughtful and well-informed assessment of the future possibilities and challenges that might arise from the development of human-like and super-human level AI.

Hello World – How to be human in the age of the machine by Hannah Fry – A popular level, readable, up-to-date and well-informed introduction to algorithms and machine intelligence. This short book provides a helpful description of the development of sophisticated data engineering, including the role of data brokers, Cambridge Analytica, micro-targeted advertising and the use of social media to manipulate people’s emotions.

Alone together – Why we expect more from technology and less from each other by Sherry Turkle – Although somewhat repetitive and overly discursive, this book is insightful and perceptive in analysing the psychological roots of contemporary desires for intimacy with machines.

The Technology Trap – Capital, Labour and Power in the Age of Automation by Carl Benedikt Frey – A practical analysis of the effects of increasing automation on different types of employment, from a well-informed historical perspective.

Life 3.0: Being human in the age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark – A readable and scientifically informed account of current techno-optimist thinking, imbued with a classic North American entrepreneurial can-do attitude.