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The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity
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The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  234 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The Fourth Age not only discusses what the rise of A.I. will mean for us, it also forces readers to challenge their preconceptions. And it manages to do all this in a way that is both entertaining and engaging.” —The New York Times

As we approach a great turning point in history when technology is poised to redefine what it means to be human, The Fourth Age offers fascinat
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by Atria Books
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Alisa Wilhelm
Soooo interesting. This book isn’t so much about the technical aspects of AI and robotics; it’s much more about applied philosophy and what we believe about the essence of humanity, consciousness, and intelligence. If you are writing some speculative fiction, this book is chock full of ideas for you.
Edward Smith
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent Read. The focus of his book is around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and more specifically around AGI -Artificial General Intelligence i.e the ability of Computers to Learn, to apply existing knowledge to new unique scenarios and to derive a new resolution not previously known to them.

The author has an inkling we will get there at some point but the answer is not around the corner as some believe. One of the biggest hurdles we face is that while we know a lot about the brain on a physic
Paul Cumbo
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Compelling, terrifying, and ironically optimistic, all at once.
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
‘Deconstructing the core beliefs that undergird the various views on robots, jobs, AI, and consciousness.’

Texas Entrepreneur/speaker/author Byron Reese is the CEO and Publisher of Gigaom, one of the world’s leading technology research companies, and regularly writes at Gigaom Publisher’s Corner. He brings his experience as a technologist, his passion for history, and his proven business acumen to illuminate how today’s technology can solve many of our biggest global challenges. According to Byro
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very thought-provoking book about AI and how technology will impact humanity in the future. Reese's approach to the subject is optimistic, humorous, and very readable. The history of humanity's relationship with technology is absolutely fascinating, and helps put the current tech into perspective. Whether you're deeply immersed in the world of technology or new to the subject and just a bit curious, I highly recommend this book.
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
This book is a good example of what I love about goodreads. I've found so many books I want to read because of it. In some cases books that I'd never even considered that I might like before seeing them on here. This was one of those books. A book about robots, technology that's improving at a rapid rate and humanity's future... And I really liked it!

First of all, it's written in a way that's easy to understand even if you don't know all that much about the topic to begin with. It's also divided
Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Reese, a publisher and tech CEO looks into the possibility of smart robots and AI in the near future. The book is an explanation of possibilities, exploring how we define not only AI, but at the same time humanity and consciousness.

"The invention of the printing press, and its widespread use, increased literacy and the free flow of information. This was the main catalyst that launched our modern world way back in the seventeenth century. And, perhaps, modernity got an unexpected boost from some
Rohan Parikh
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-bookshelf
"The Fourth Age" by Bryon Reese is an excellent piece of nonfiction about humanities' future. It talks about the past first by stating how we got here. The First Age started with the invention of fire. With the ability to cook meat, our body was able to take in more calories than raw meat \and as a result, grow. Our brain grew and language was invented. The Second Age was agriculture. With the discovery of agriculture, humans did not have to move around anymore. Massive towns were developed. Eve ...more
Dawn Tessman
Nov 15, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. This book covers peoples’ dependency on computers and the various theoretical impacts Artificial Intelligence may have on humanity as technological advancements extend beyond weak AI (e.g., Siri) and lead to conscious computers. While many arguments are made touting the benefits of such advancements, I think the most profound cautionary statement is this: “As Steve Wozniak said, ‘All of a sudden, we’ve lost a lot of control. We can’t turn off our Internet; we can’t turn off our smartp ...more
Dec 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity by Byron Reese could have been really good if only it wasn't riddled with so many grammatical errors. :'-( Repeated words, completely missing words, and words in the wrong order (was this down to the editor?) were liberally spread through the entire book which really took away from my enjoyment. I felt that what he was trying to accomplish with this book was interesting but I'm not entirely sure that he accomplished hi ...more
Sep 11, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Much of the book's value comes from its synopsis of the assumptions that drive the many divergent forecasts of futurists' and other intellectuals' with regards to the timeline of artificial intelligence development. The author does a good job of remaining objective until the end, where he optimistically and over-simplistically writes about poverty, disease, hunger, energy, and leisure time.

I saw the author speak at an event and he was an engaging speaker who clearly researched the au
May 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Yet another book about the three technological ages of humanity that does not contain the words 'Alvin Toffler', author of arguably the most famous book ever written about futurism: "The Third Wave" in 1980. It, along with his book 'Future Shock' arguably invented the modern concept of futurism itself.

Have some courage, sir. At least acknowledge the history of the idea your book is based around. Expanding on the ideas of others is normal and good. But you didn't invent this, and it's embarrassin
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For me, this is the definitive introductory book on all the topics mentioned in the title. It's easy enough to grasp when your technical knowledge is limited. The author offers several different theories and beliefs about the nature of humanity and does so with more neutrality than I could muster. Lots of things were better elaborated on in Homo Deus, but Harari's book was also more scattered (even though I enjoyed that one as well).

The audio version was well narrated.

Note that there are few dys
Robert Ferber
Jan 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
library book. Great title and a great topic, but unfortunately I was not impressed with the author's thinking. The question the book tries to answer is whether artificial intelligence that is conscious can be created (answer: no one knows since we barely understand what consciousness is) and what this will mean (answer: your opinion is as good as mine). The book finishes with a view of a utopian world in which poverty, disease, ignorance, war, and death are all but banished...thanks to AI. Nice ...more
Cherryls Books
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very interesting exploration of the modern day realties around robotics and it's potential to change humanity as we know it. The book challenges you to think about your stance and contemplate the impact of things like transhumanism, robots replacing human labour power and the ability of robots/computers to compete with the human brain/mind.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Best part of the book was the analysis of how AI will take over the labor market.
Best part of the philosophy was laying out the different views, though the explanation of those views was shallow.
Last section on the future of humanity was boring and just like every other book out there about technology and the future. Should have focused just on AI.
Rob Enderle
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really fascinating book, great look into the future of robotics and AI. Like all forward looking books there is a lot you can disagree with (the author isn't psychic after all) but it gets you thinking about the topic and his points are well argued.
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredible, astonishing book. It’s one of the best I’ve read in a very long time. The Fourth Age not only discusses what the rise of A.I. will mean for us, it also forces readers to challenge their preconceptions. If you only read just one book about the A.I. revolution, make it this one.
Alar Mäerand
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
I would say 4.5
This book will take you from caveman's time to the optimistic future. Explores the challeges and opportunities we will have in our way. I really enjoyed chapter on consciousness. It was a good reading because it triggered other ideas and provided some topics for further exploration.
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, blinkist
Absolutely fascinating! I partly wondered why/how the advent of the computer wasn't considered the start of the 4th age, but this book was a fascinating look at the other ages, the age we're in now, and how AI is ushering us into a new era.
John Donnelly
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It's a delightful encapsulation of many familiar things, but it also presents some valuable things that are new to me. (I must say I feel bad for the author because the book is regrettably rife with errors that appear to stem from incomplete copy editing.)

Patricia Uttaro
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very readable treatment of a complicated topic.
Nasir Ali
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great reading on the concept like narrow AI, AGI and the social, financial impacts of the upcoming AI tidal wave.
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm interested in this topic, but this book wasn't big-picture enough. I am, however, listening to his AI podcasts.
Han Rusman
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Alright, but nothing special.
Jon Stonecash
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Broad rather than a deep dive.
Fuzzball Baggins
Jul 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
There were no original ideas in this book, and there were logic fallacies all over the place. It was so frustrating to read!
Bill Koenig
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really great introduction to the philosophy of consciousness more than AI, helped me structure my thinking about sentience and the material of humanity. Would highly recommend!
Alex Lyashok
Aug 25, 2018 rated it liked it
nice survey of automation issues
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