To Be A Machine by Mark O’Connell
To Be A Machine
You know those books that explode your brain, making you question everything? This was my face for most of the time I was reading To Be A Machine. As a mood reader I have 5 -10 books on the go. Sometimes a book will take me hours, sometimes weeks.
I bought this 2017 non-fiction award winner at the serpentine gallery months ago & have just finished. It’s relatively small & approximately 100 times to clever for me so I had to be in a particular frame of mind to pick it up.
But don’t let that suggest it isn’t brilliant. An investigative journalist explores transhumanism – a movement dedicated to changing the trajectory of humanity through cryogenics & bioengineering. He visits a warehouse filled with people cryogenically frozen, speaks to scientists trying to download the brain, those on a quest to overcome all illness, combining our bodies & minds with technology.
Any parent who has spent anxious hours in A & E with a child or really anyone unwell or experiencing grief will know the acute feeling of helplessness, those moments we realise our inherent physical vulnerabilities. O’Connell writes about fatherhood in a raw, visceral way that is the perfect, relatable start to his spiralling interest in this field.
His wry, sardonic prose made me laugh & simultaneously question what it is to be alive, the ethics & morality of pursuing immortality & AI tech. Is a robot with a human consciousness human? Are our brains an operating system failed by weak physical hosts? What does death mean?
I tabbed furiously, every other page sent me down an Internet rabbit hole. It made me think more than any other book – are we on the precipice of a completely different world? Is AI a threat? This will appeal to many, blending mathematics, biology, technology, philosophy, religion, history & sociology – this touches on so many facets of our existence.
As someone who struggles with the concept of atoms science really isn’t my strength but I have not stopped talking about this book. It’s hugely readable as the author is also coming from a place of discovery.
A conversation starter that might just change the way you think about the world and yourself. C
Order your copy here.