J.P. Morgan 2018 Summer Reading List pick, described as “entertaining and engaging” by The New York Times.

Released April 24, 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.

“A must-read for anyone interested in the intersection of technology, society and work, The Fourth Age examines the crucial questions we need to consider as new developments gain momentum and take hold.”  – JP Morgan

“Reese frames the deepest questions of our time in clear language that invites the reader to make their own choices. Using 100,000 years of human history as his guide, he explores the issues around artificial general intelligence, robots,  consciousness, automation, the end of work, abundance, and immortality. As he does so, Reese reveals himself to be an optimist and urges us to use technology to build a better world.”  — Bob Metcalfe, UT Austin Professor of Innovation, Ethernet inventor, 3Com founder

“In The Fourth Age, Byron Reese offers the reader something much more valuable than what to think about Artificial Intelligence and robotics—he focuses on  HOW to think about these technologies, and the ways in which they will change the world forever. If you only read just one book about the AI revolution, make it this one.”  — John Mackey, co-founder and CEO, Whole Foods Market

“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.  –  New York Times

Sample Audio Book

"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 latest book, “The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity” was released by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, on April 24, 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. It augments us. And yet today, many are being told they should fear technology. In my writing, I reject that and offer a different narrative, of how technology can bring about a peaceful and prosperous world for all.” – Byron Reese

Byron in Print

Reviews

“A must-read for anyone interested in the intersection of technology, society and work, The Fourth Age examines the crucial questions we need to consider as new developments gain momentum and take hold.”

“Reese frames the deepest questions of our time in clear language that invites the reader to make their own choices. Using 100,000 years of human history as his guide, he explores the issues around artificial general intelligence, robots, consciousness, automation, the end of work, abundance, and immortality. As he does so, Reese reveals himself to be an optimist and urges us to use technology to build a better world.”

Bob Metcalfe, UT Austin Professor of Innovation, Ethernet inventor, 3Com founder

 

"In The Fourth Age, Byron Reese offers the reader something much more valuable than what to think about Artificial Intelligence and robotics—he focuses on HOW to think about these technologies, and the ways in which they will change the world forever. If you only read just one book about the AI revolution, make it this one."

John Mackey, co-founder and CEO, Whole Foods Market

“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. 

"Explores the next stage of humanity’s evolution—the age of artificial intelligence and its potentially “species-changing” implications."

"This book is not only timely: it is desperately needed as a resource to come to grips with where we find ourselves now and in the not too distant future."

Barron's Penta

"Consider The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity, by Byron Reese." 

Say People

"Reading the book seems like we are on a technological 'safari' "

BusinessTech

"A must-read for anyone interested in the intersection of technology, society and work, The Fourth Age examines the crucial questions we need to consider as new developments gain momentum and take hold."

TechFinancials

"Reese leads us through a complicated discussion about AI and robotics, and give us a basis to start interrogating the fourth industrial revolution, and what we must do to navigate it 'appropriately.'"

The Hindu Business Line

"With a deep understanding of human history, tech entrepreneur and futurist Byron Reese offers a nuanced understanding of the change that is at our doorsteps..."

"This is an incredible, astonishing book. It’s one of the best I’ve read in the last twenty years, and I read a lot."

 

 

“The Fourth Age” focuses on deconstructing the beliefs that undergird the many different views on robots, jobs, AI, consciousness, and life."

 

 

 

Business Insider

"JPMorgan says everyone should read these 10 books this summer"

 

 

TechNewsWorld

"one hell of a read", "Books like this can become self-fulfilling prophecies."
"A must-read book for the summer" and "I couldn't recommend it more highly."

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

A J.P. Morgan 2018 Summer Reading List pick, described as "entertaining and engaging" by The New York Times.

Today 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."

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. 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 from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, and Indie Bound, "The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers and the Future of Humanity."

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."

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

A Message in a Bottle – Byron on Writing

“The best thing to me about writing is that my message goes out into the world, and I have no idea who will see it. It goes to people I 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 our then Vice President’s home. 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 prior 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 an amazing trip where, among other things, my meager chessplaying skills were compared favorably to Fidel Castro’s by a man who played against him. And so, I keep writing, sending out messages in bottles.”

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 visiting with the former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox.

Byron's Latest

National Geographic

"How We Will Age Within 20 Years" by Byron Reese

Korn Ferry Institute Report - "Artificial Intelligence: Competitor or Partner"

A World of Inspiration

"A World of Inspiration," by Byron Reese

Newest Book

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