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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,041 ratings  ·  129 reviews
A tale of two societies and how they handle the coming robotic revolution.
ebook, 79 pages
Published 2003
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3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,041 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Aug 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
This book started out so awesome. Machines are doing a great job of serving people, it takes a realistic walkthrough towards a fully automated restaurant system, and it titillates me into thinking where this story is suppose to go.

Author is the founder of 'HowStuffWorks', it was mesmerizing the way he describes the incremental automization of a McDonalds style fast food chain. Managerial jobs are eliminated and instead a computer software gives instructions on how to manage the restaurant. Sales
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It starts out seeming like a dystopian novel, and it keeps going in that vein for awhile; what's more, the dystopia is terrifyingly plausible. It seems to be the direction that modern capitalism is already headed.

But the end is literally the happiest ending I have ever read, perhaps the happiest ending imaginable. It captures a Singularity that feels both real and genuinely worthwhile.

I couldn't stop reading it; it's rather short, but that wasn't the only reason. It does lean rather heavily on
Tamas Kalman
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
the best thing i read since kazohinia.

burger-g is already here, it's just called uber, lyft & sidecar.
Aistė Kesminaitė-jankauskienė
I liked the idea of the book, but the way it's written leaves a lot to be desired.
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is an extended propaganda pamphlet on open source. There are only two possible futures presented. One is a dystopia in which the unskilled labor force gets taken over by robots and we all end up living in prison-like projects while the rich get richer. In the utopian version, "Australia," robots enable us to all be equal and share in the free, fully-recyclable, almost limitless resources, while achieving our own bliss and full creative potential because we are free from want. The only catch ...more
Eric Franklin
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eric by: Danielle
This was a really fun way of engaging with the cautionary tale at the heart of intersection between late capitalism and robotic automation. I'd highly recommend it as a tonic for anyone disheartened by some of the more negative interpretations of what is on the way from our future robo-overlords. There's still time to change the path we're on!

From a subject exploration standpoint, I think this short novella is worth a 4 star review, but I'm taking it down a peg due to some horrid gaps, the Ayn R
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, but I simply could not get past the first few pages, despite my full-hearted agreement with the themes and purposes of this book. I agree on the critique of society that this book tries to make, and I agree on the need for a Basic Income (though not necessarily for the same reasons or from the same economic reasoning that the author seems to use). But, I found the writing just too stilted and difficult to get past, so I was never able to suspend disbelief long ...more
Rikki Prince
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Everyone should read this. I've said for a while that the world does not have a goal. This is what the world could be like if we were all working together towards something, rather than fighting and being selfish.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
I've seen too many Black Mirror episodes to enjoy the second half of this book.

We're presented with first the worst case scenario and then the best case scenario of humanity's future. Both of these are interesting enough to read about, but the issue I have is although both scenarios are very exaggerated, the author acts like the second scenario is actually realistic. It's as if this future that he's thought of is a perfect idea and now all you have to do is jump on board. When talking about som
Jul 13, 2011 rated it liked it
The lesson of the story is spot on. We can move forward and let the technological revolution lead us into a world of horror controlled by the few or we can consciously make a decision to have this revolution lead to a good life for all.

I found some weak points however. The utopia described sounds like a 21st century Western individualist trans-humanist fantasy. It ignores a long tradition of ideologies and philosophies on how to achieve a democratic egalitarian society.

The idea of complete trans
Dec 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Not really a story, just a detailed description of a capitalist society compared to a communist society in a post-scarcity world. I thought it was obvious that capitalism won't work in the future, but maybe this is news to some people. The interesting thing is that you could remove all the robots and technology and see this story describes the world we live in today. I hope that was the author's point, to show that we've already passed the point where we have sufficient resources for everyone an ...more
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is my dream world.
Brian Victor
Feb 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
Have to give only 1 star for two critical failures on Marshall's part.

1) It is quite a misrepresentation of the "rich" to say that they don't care about the poor. Oh, certainly, many don't. Maybe even most don't, but the actions of folks like Bill Gates and Tim Cooke would argue against the absolute that Manna paints.

2) While I grant that Marshall's utopia is far better than anything we have now, as G.K. Chesterton put it, "Meaninglessness comes not from being weary of pain, but from being wear
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a great short story that makes you think about equality, robots, and society. It's a free book located at the authors website. Makes you question those self-checkout stands at the stores and what will happen when machine vision becomes a reality.
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It starts with a scary vision, worse than what you may know from Orson Wells 1984 where Capitalism and Robots have turned most human beings as redundant, parked in some survival ghettos. But there is an other vision, an utopia in Australia where robots do the work while humans enjoy life freely ! It sounds ideal, reminds me of some Aldous Huxley books. At first read, it looks feasible, but then you start to question how you move from where we are to that situation, with capitalism, multi-nationa ...more
David Sasaki
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dave Font
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I feel so good right now, inspired to create.

It felt so different than the last books I’ve read, maybe any book I’ve read
The conditions were right — on a flight
Maybe I was just in the right mood with the right conditions
Maybe it was the writer — Marshall Brian
Maybe it was the content
Or the happy ending
Or the talk of creation
The feeling of liberation

What I do know is that I want to explore this feeling
Maybe I’ll read another sci fi
Or Marshall Brian
Or I’ll just actually do th
Primal Pappachan
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
An amazing book on good,bad and ugly facets of what technology might be keeping in store for us in the future. In a futuristic world where everything is automated and every aspect of life is controlled by computers, open source and free software would be the panacea for problem of every kind. Recommended for every technology enthusiast and free software activist out there. You will be enlightened after reading this.

P.S: Our fears were wrong, robots would never enslave humans.
Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Hard to believe this was written in 2003, I think in 2025 we're all going to be looking back at 2014 wondering how we didn't better prepare for this looming technological revolution of what it means to "work full time". A very short and very easy to read view into the not-too-distant future.
Harald Johansson
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The best utopian novel I've ever laid my hands on so far. Wow.
Walker Starr
Apr 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dystopia and utopia are just two sides of the same coin.
Overall, a short but interesting read and good thinking material.

(view spoiler)
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Marshall Brain, yes that's really his name not a technique for combating forgetfulness, proposes two, very depressing possibilities for what he considers will be near future society.

The first is brilliantly described and had me feeling both paranoid and claustrophobic. Robots take over and organize our societies by treating us like worker bees. Everything's organized, people are a resource to be used in order meet AI's goal of maximizing productivity and efficiency. It's soul destroying work tha
Oct 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jacob van Berkel
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: oceania-fiction
Wow, even the writing seems robotic.

I liked the first part, about 'Manna' taking over the economy. Seems a very plausible way of how a 'robotic takeover' would start. The 'terrafoam' prisons for the masses of unemployed people felt less plausible. I mean, who would even buy all those competitively priced burgers now? And the utopian parts in the final three chapters were just ... well, weren't they just?

Whatever these chapters were, they were probably not very accurate. They reminded me very m
Alex Lassnaym
Oct 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Do not read this book expecting Isaac Asimov. As much as I enjoyed reading Manna, Brain is not the most accomplished writer. That aside, I'll focus briefly on what I did enjoy about Manna. Marshall Brain's dystopia of a world run awry by unchecked progress in AI development I believe to be perfectly rational, given the current relationship government and technology share. With a few exceptions, his chilling descriptions of the incremental boundary AI pushes seem wholly realistic, and gone unchec ...more
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a simple story of two possible futures for humans living with robots. It is not an exhaustive study of it, just a glance at the possibilities. The first scenario seems to be the outcome if we continue on our current trajectory of devaluing human life.
But I found so much hope for our future in the second scenario! This is, in my mind, not only possible but inevitable; how long it takes us to get there and how much suffering we put ourselves and each other through before we figure it out
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Several years ago, I read Atlas Shrugged. The premise of self-determination was attractive, but Rand spent far too much time berating opponents of her anarchic utopia. It was heavy-handed and, at times, insulting.

Manna takes a different approach to dystopian/utopian possibilities. Rather than presenting straw men to beat upon, Manna depicts the life of a man whose life is influenced by market forces first into ease, then subjugation. You are free to work where you please, but you’ll be
May 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Read this for a book club and was left with way more questions and arguments against both futures than I'd anticipated. It presumes a lot of inherent goodness and purity of thought in humans, for one thing. The book seems like a good start to comparing the two ideas, but it's not exactly well-thought through. What is the effect of the Australia Project on human relationships? What is the lack of the need to learn and the lack of a need for human interaction doing to physical health, neuron devel ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I first read Manna not long after it was first released. It left an impression, and despite its faults, I find myself thinking about this book more and more as I read about self-driving cars, the fight for livable wages, various oligarchical figures, robots in warehouses, the fetishizing of the "successful CEO," and other technological advances/detriments. I reread it and it still seems plausible: the destruction of the middle manager would essential cement an American caste system in place. Wit ...more
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Linux Outlaws Rea...: Book Suggestion: Manna by Marshall Brain 5 10 Jun 07, 2012 10:58AM  

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I am best known as the founder of How Stuff Works. I started HowStuffWorks as a hobby in 1998 and it has grown to be one of the top Web sites in the country.

I am known for the Robotic Nation essays and the book Manna. The article How to make a million dollars is also very popular. I am known for my book for teenagers entitled The Teenager's Guide to the Real World, now in its tenth printing and se
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