Coming March 2018

The Fourth Age

Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity

Our world up to recent times has been a Third Age world. While incredible innovation has occurred along the way, such as the development of steam and electric power and the invention of movable type, these were not fundamental changes in the nature of being human the way language, agriculture and writing were. With the exceptions of computers and robots, the innovations that we have observed have been evolutionary more than revolutionary. This is not to diminish them in the least. Printing changed the world profoundly, but it was simply a cheaper way to do something that we already could do. Detailed schematics of a biplane would have made sense to Da Vinci. But computers and robots are different. If we use them to outsource thought and motion, the very essence we are, then that is a real change, a Fourth Age.

"Over the past decade, Reese has quietly pioneered a new breed of media company"

“Byron Reese is typical of the new wave of internet entrepreneurs out to turn the economics of the media industry on its head.”

"Reese is a tall Texan ... who created the idea-spawning algorithm that lies at the heart of Demand's process."

“In fact, Reese says, good news has been trumping bad for some time: "We've cured childhood diseases, ended legal segregation, lengthened the average lifespan and improved the quality of life for millions of people."

An Author with a Message

Byron’s upcoming book, “The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity” will be released by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, in April 2018. He is also the author of the award-winning “Infinite Progress: How Technology and the Internet Will End Ignorance, Disease, Hunger, Poverty, and War.”

In addition, Byron 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.

“Technology is empowering. At its core, it augments us. And yet today, many are being told they should fear technology, that it is something to be avoided. In my writing, I emphatically reject that and offer a different narrative, of a world that can be transformed by technology to finally be able to deliver on the hopes humanity has had since the beginning, a peaceful and prosperous world for all. No generation in history has ever had the ability to make this happen, but through the magnifying power of technology, we can.” – Byron Reese

Byron in Print

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

As the CEO of Gigaom, one of the world’s most respected technology research companies, Byron has spent the better part of his life exploring the interplay of technology with human history.

Today, he explains, we are grappling with big questions around technology: What is possible with artificial intelligence? Should we fear it or welcome it? Will robots take all the jobs, and if they do, would that be a good thing? Can computers achieve consciousness, and if so, do they then acquire rights?"

In "The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers and the Future of Humanity," Byron identifies these as fundamentally philosophical, not technical questions, and in doing so, invites the reader to consider these from that vantage point, beginning with the question, “Are humans machines?”

"The Fourth Age" then proceeds to tell the story of technology over the last 100,000 years, focusing on three times in the past when humanity created a technology so profound, says Byron "that it permanently altered our bodies and minds, changing the trajectory of human history in a dramatic way."

Byron believes that humanity is about to be so transformed a fourth time, due to artificial intelligence and robots. "As we progressively 'outsource' our cognitive activity to computers and our physical activity to machines, once again we will be permanently changed, and in this Fourth Age, humanity will embark on the next stage of its evolution," he says.

In captivating and clear language, Byron explores the wide-ranging implications of the Fourth Age as he tackles the questions of artificial general intelligence, employment, automation, creative computers, consciousness, radical life extension, income inequality, artificial life, AI ethics, the future of warfare, superintelligence, and the implications of extreme prosperity. He eschews simple dogmatic answers to these complex questions and analyzes the basic assumptions that undergird each one. Thus, "The Fourth Age" doesn’t foist the opinions of the author but offers a framework for understanding how technology and human history come together to create the future.

This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to move beyond the warring viewpoints of techno-pundits towards a methodology for answering the questions that we now face. Consider it a guidebook to the future that readers can turn to again and again as we rocket towards this fourth species-changing rendezvous with technology.

Available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, and Indie Bound, "The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers and the Future of Humanity," will be released in April 2018 by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, and translated versions will appear in several Asian and European languages shortly thereafter.

 

Reviews

The Washington Post

"In fact. Reese says good news has been trumping bad for some time. 'We've cured childhood diseases, ended legal segregation, lengthened the average lifespan and improved quality of life for millions of people'..."

Austin American Stateman

"‘Infinite Progress’ author has endless optimism."

Stephen Wolfram, Founder & CEO of Wolfram Research, creator of Mathematica & A New Kind of Science, and creator of Wolfram|Alpha"

"Infinite Progress is a prophetic book that deserves to be widely read. Drawing on Byron Reese’s insights about both technology and history, its energetic optimism about the future is a wonderful inspiration."

Stephen Wolfram

Founder & CEO of Wolfram Research, creator of Mathematica & A New Kind of Science, and creator of Wolfram|Alpha

Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Better Angels of Our Nature

“This is a valuable book – an antidote to the harmful gloom and moralizing that pervades most discussions of the future, and a beacon showing us the paths we should take.”

Steven Pinker

Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of, "The Better Angels of Our Nature."

Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce

We are so grateful for your time and your speech last week. We received our member feedback and it was extremely positive. Thank you for all the effort you put into crafting something that fit so well with our organization and our theme for the day.

Kelly Brough
President and CEO

GoodReads.com

"With a rational and researched optimism, Reese sees the future not as a world in a downward spiral, but as destined for progress beyond our imaginations. If you want to get excited about the future, then this is the book for you."

ReadingGluton.blogspot.com

"...an informative, well-argued breath of fresh air." "Infinite Progress is chock full of great ideas."

 

AudioFile's Earphones Award Winner 2013

"...this audiobook is packed with so many great facts, anecdotes, and sideways perspectives—if the Internet were a person, it wouldn’t be old enough to buy a beer—that you’ll find yourself quoting from it at the next water cooler gathering ... Highly recommended for both cynics and optimists."

AudioFile's Earphones Award Winner 2013

"Infinite Progress: How the Internet and Technology Will End Ignorance, Disease, Poverty, Hunger, and War"

Gloom-and-doom pessimists have it all wrong. This objective look at the trajectory of history, technology, and civilization shows that we are about to enter a great new epoch of human existence, a golden age like we have never seen; a world free of ignorance, disease, poverty, hunger, and war.

With the art of a storyteller, Byron synthesizes history, technology, and sociology into an exciting, fast-moving narrative showing how new technology has had dramatic effects on humanity in the past. He then looks forward at the technological changes we know are coming–from genetics, nanotechnology, robotics, and many other fields–and explores how they will vastly increase wealth, prolong our lifespans, redefine human rights, and alter the social fabric of the world.

With a rational and researched optimism, Byron sees the future not as a world in a downward spiral, but as destined for progress beyond our imaginations.

“When we invented email, everyone started writing. We made blogs, and a hundred million people started typing. YouTube was created, and millions of us started making video. Add product reviews to the Internet, and people started weighing in, billions of times. It turns out we all have a desire to create and be heard. We just didn’t have tools before.” - Byron Reese

Byron visiting the Simon Petra Monastery on Mount Athos, Greece. Read Byron’s account of his time at the monastery, Accessing the Internet Atop the Holy Mountain.

Byron with President of Mexico Vicente Fox

Byron with the former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox.

A Message in a Bottle – Byron on Writing

“The best thing to me about writing is that your message goes out into the world, and you have no idea who will see it. It goes to people you could live a hundred lifetimes and never pass on the street.

About every other day, I get a note from someone who read something I wrote, or saw a video I was in, or attended one of my talks, and such great things have come out of them. For instance, I had the great opportunity to work with a museum on an exhibit about the future. A person hearing one of my speeches made an introduction for me, and I ended up as a dinner guest at Vice President Biden’s house. On another occasion, something I wrote led to an amazing visit to Mount Athos in Greece where over a thousand monks live in monasteries the same way they did 500 years ago.

One day, I received a phone call from an unknown international number, and it was Mexico’s former president, Vicente Fox, who had discovered Infinite Progress while browsing the Kindle store. He told me he loved the book and invited me to stay at his home and teach at his presidential library. That was amazing, and a great honor. And so, I keep writing, sending out messages in bottles.”

Byron's Latest

AI Minute

Gigaom brings you the AI Minute. A one-minute daily podcast hosted by Byron. Available on Gigaom.com, iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon Alexa.

Listen Now

Voices in AI

Byron’s one-hour podcast featuring one-on-one chats with the leading thinkers in artificial intelligence. Coming soon.

Coming Soon

National Geographic

Read Now

Get in touch or Book a Talk Here 

Get in touch with Byron

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