“Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think: How Humans Learned to See the Future — and Shape it.” Media Kit

Thank you for your interest in “Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think: How Humans Learned to See the Future — and Shape it.”

 Below you will find details on the book, including excerpts, the prologue, Byron’s bio, interview questions, story copy and accolades. Please contact media@byronreese.com for more information, to arrange an interview or request an advanced copy.

Contact Info

Media Inquiries / Interview / Review Copy Requests

Email: media@byronreese.com

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Contact See Agency: (310) 903-1986 / bookbyron@seeagency.com

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Product Info

Title: Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think
Subtitle: How Humans Learned to See the Future—and Shape It
Author: Byron Reese
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
Distributed by: Penguin Random
Imprint: House Publisher Services
Publication Date: August 16, 2022
ISBN: 9781637741351
Price: $ 27.95 US / $ 36.95 CAN
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 304

ABOUT THE BOOK

IMAGES

INSIDE Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think: How Humans Learned to See the Future — and Shape it.

Flap Copy

Asking what makes the human mind so unique? And how did we get this way? “Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think“ explores the three leaps in our history that made us who we are—and will change how we think about our future.

Look around. Clearly, we humans are radically different from the other creatures on this planet. But why? Where are the Bronze Age beavers? The Iron Age iguanas? In Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think (Aug. 16, 2022 / Benbella Books), Byron Reese argues that we owe our special status to our ability to imagine the future and recall the past, escaping the perpetual present that all other living creatures are trapped in.

Envisioning human history as the development of a societal superorganism he names Agora, Reese shows us how this escape enabled us to share knowledge on an unprecedented scale, to predict—and eventually master—the future.

Thoughtful, witty, and compulsively readable, Reese unravels our history as an intelligent species in three acts:

  • Act I: Ancient humans undergo “the awakening,” developing the cognitive ability to mentally time-travel using language
  • Act II:  In 17th century France, the mathematical framework known as ‘probability theory’ is born—a science for seeing into the future that we used to build the modern world
  • Act III: Beginning with the invention of the computer chip, humanity creates machines to gaze into the future with even more precision, overcoming the limits of our brains

A fresh new look at the history and destiny of humanity, readers will come away from Stories, Dice, and Rocks that Think with a new understanding of what they are—not just another animal, but a creature with a mastery of time itself.

Short Description:

Asking what makes the human mind so unique? And how did we get this way? “Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think“ explores the three leaps in our history that made us who we are—and will change how we think about our future. 

Envisioning human history as the development of a societal superorganism he names Agora, Reese shows us how this escape enabled us to share knowledge on an unprecedented scale, to predict—and eventually master—the future.

Thoughtful, witty, and compulsively readable, Reese unravels our history as an intelligent species  in three acts: 

  • Act I: Ancient humans undergo “the awakening,” developing the cognitive ability to mentally time-travel using language
  • Act II:  In 17th century France, probability theory is born—a science for seeing into the future that we used to build the modern world
  • Act III: Beginning with the invention of the computer chip, humanity creates machines to gaze into the future with even more precision, overcoming  the limits of our brains

Long Description:

For the past couple of centuries, our species has been playing an existential game of Mad Libs, trying to fill in the blank on what seems like a pretty straightforward sentence: “Humans are the only creatures that.” We’ve tried “makes tools,” “uses language,” “is conscious,” “controls fire,” “has culture,” “reasons,” and (per Mark Twain) “blushes, or needs to.” But each time a new answer to the question of what makes us unique is offered, it is immediately pounced on by naysayers eager to disprove it and to show that there really isn’t anything that special about us at all—that we are just another animal.

But common sense tells us that simply isn’t true. Clearly, we are radically different from the other creatures on this planet. Who can deny this? We are Earth’s preeminent life-form by such a wide margin that there isn’t even a distant second. Look around. Where are the Bronze Age beavers? The Iron Age iguanas? Or the preindustrial prairie dogs? Have you ever met a penguin poet? Pheasant philosopher? Or platypus playwright? No, because they don’t exist. Our planet is populated by just two types of creatures: us and a giant menagerie of beings so unlike us that the tiniest overlap is cause for curious wonder.

I’m not down on animals. Without a doubt, they feel pain as we do; their suffering is as real as ours, and because they can suffer, they should be given legal protections. Further, I’m not arguing that they don’t have emotions or even that they are not conscious. Perhaps they are. I’m solely interested in animal cognition, which I do believe is entirely different from human cognition. In that difference lies the answer to the perplexing question posed above: If humans and animals are the same sort of thing, differing only by degrees, why is our outcome so dramatically different from theirs?

Obviously, it’s not our bodies that give us preeminence. We have animal bodies. Good ones, to be sure, with unusually long lifespans and an amazing ability to repair themselves, but that isn’t what distinguishes us. It’s our minds. Something about them makes us so different from animals that we are almost aliens by comparison. I think it’s this: We are endowed with temporal mental plasticity that enables our minds to roam freely through time, untethered from the here and now. Our thoughts flow effortlessly from the present to the past to the future. We can remember what happened yesterday and use it to speculate on what might happen tomorrow; we can recall our childhood and contemplate our old age. We can imagine many different futures, predict what will likely happen, and try to exercise control over it. We are the architects of our tomorrows, the shapers of our destinies. No other creature on Earth even knows that there is a future or a past for that matter; instinctual behavior aside, animals live outside of time. But this knowledge of ours comes at a price, for it reveals our mortality. As essayist Jorge Luis Borges put it, “Except for man, all creatures are immortal, for they are ignorant of death.”

There was a time when creatures that looked like us were animals, and they, too, didn’t know there was a future or a past. How did we get from there to a point where we could think about the future; influence it; and, finally, perhaps master it? This book tells the story, in three acts, of how our species learned to escape the perpetual present.

Act I is how we developed the cognitive ability to mentally time travel. It starts far in the distant past, millennia ago, and explores how we acquired language as a mental construct, which gave us the capacity for thought, which we only later began externalizing in a spoken form in order to communicate with others. That mental language became the voice in our head, one that we used to imagine stories about possible immediate futures—running different scenarios in our minds of the ways that events could unfold. Later, we started externalizing those as well, telling stories to each other. We were story thinkers before we became storytellers.

The thing that transformed us—the radioactive spider that bit us—was something so rare and so serendipitous that it evidently has never happened to any other creature. That’s why there are no Bronze Age beavers. When we got our mental superpowers, fifty thousand or so years ago, we became fully “us,” with our language, art, music, and all the rest. With this range of new abilities, we were able to draw upon the past to imagine multiple futures and predict which of them would happen. This gave us mastery of the planet in an evolutionary blink of an eye. With it, we invented agriculture, created cities, devised writing systems, divided into nations, and explored the world.

But we wanted more. We wanted to systematize prediction, turning it from an art to a science. We accomplished this. But doing so required a new understanding of the nature of reality, of why the future unfolds the way it does.

That’s the story told in Act II, which begins in 1654 in France, when two mathematicians trading correspondence invented what we now call probability theory. With it, we had science for seeing into the future, and we used it to build the modern world. It became the cornerstone of a dozen sciences, from mundane meteorology to exotic quantum physics. Sociologists used it to create demography, while biologists used it to pioneer medical research.

It became the basis of our financial system, the insurance industry, the capital markets, and, well, the entire world economy. All commerce was based on it, on using probability to predict everything from inventory levels to consumer demand. Virtually all of the modern world, in all its complexity, sits atop that science of seeing the future.

Three centuries passed between creating the science of probability and hitting a biological limit of what our intellects, as amazing as they are, could accomplish with it. So we began building machines that could employ the science far better than we could. The curtain closes on Act II in 1954, as we booted up the first all-transistor computer.

Act III opens on that world, where events transpired quickly. Transistor-based computers rapidly grew in capability, and we invented a science called artificial intelligence, whose explicit goal was to teach the new machines how to think as we did. The hope was that with their lightning speed, they could solve probability problems that were beyond our capabilities, allowing us to predict the future ever more accurately. At the same time, we began attaching electronic sensors to the computers, allowing them to see and hear the world on their own and to interact with it.

They would gather near-infinite amounts of data, and the belief was—and still is—that all that data, combined with near-unlimited processing power, will give us the ability to see the future as accurately as we see the present. If we can do this, we will become true masters of fate.

We are living at the dawn of Act III, but perhaps we can already see into the future well enough to confidently predict how this act will turn out. But I don’t want to spoil the ending in the introduction, so let’s take Lewis Carroll’s advice and begin at the beginning. Pour yourself a drink, sit back, and get comfortable, because I have quite a story to tell you.

WHAT OTHERS SAY

MEDIA PRAISE “STORIES DICE AND ROCKS THAT THINK

(COMING SOON)

MEDIA PRAISE “THE FOURTH AGE’

“Entertaining and Engaging,” — The New York Times

  • “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.” J.P. Morgan
  • “Explores the next stage of humanity’s evolution—the age of artificial intelligence and its potentially “species-changing” implications.” — Publisher’s Weekly
  • “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.” — San Francisco Review of books
  • “Timely, highly informative, and certainly optimistic.” — BOOKLIST
  • “I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Byron’s book.” — Tonya Hall, ZD Net
  • “Consider The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity, by Byron Reese.” Barron’s
  • “Reading the book seems like we are on a technological ‘safari’,” — SayPeople.com
  • “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.” Business Tech
  • “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.'” Tech Financials
  • “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…” — The Hindu Businessline
  • “The Fourth Age” focuses on deconstructing the beliefs that undergird the many different views on robots, jobs, AI, consciousness, and life.” — Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer at SXSW
  • “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.”TechNewsWorld 

THOUGHT LEADERS PRAISE “THE 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.” J.P. Morgan Reading List Collection 2018

  • “If you only read just one book about the AI revolution, make it this one.” — John Mackey, co-founder and CEO, Whole Foods Market
  • “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.” John Smart, CEO Foresight University
  • “I thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating look at history, and the focus on possible futures.” — Frank Diana, Futurist
  • “The Fourth Age” focuses on deconstructing the beliefs that undergird the many different views on robots, jobs, AI, consciousness, and life.” — Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer at SXSW
  • “A classic in understanding the impact of disruptive technology on the human experience and evolution.” — John Mattison, Chief Health Information Officer, Kaiser Permanente
  • “I highly recommend the book, it’s great … the societal issues Byron raises are worth reading.” — Chris Moose, Partner, Digital Practice and Cluster Leader at IBM
  • “The Fourth Age = A+ For Content,” — Emerge Marketing Strategies
  • “Reese frames the deepest questions of our time in clear language that invites the reader to make their own choices … 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
  • “A very worthy read!” — Nancy Giordano, Strategic Futurist
  • May 2018 Business Bestseller — 800 CEO Read
  • “The best book in AI, robots, and their implications for the future that I have read in at least a decade,” — Chairman at WIN-911 Software
  • “A friendly, down-to-earth, seminar-style book that gathers all the buzzwords and scary headlines and sorts through it for us with convincing simplicity and clarity.” — Jim Williams, CEO MustHaveMenus
  • “An outstanding book that is not only factually optimistic about technology, but winds up with a pretty solid assessment that we might be able to just keep improving.” — Jeff Bennett, CEO Digital Properties

MEDIA PRAISE BYRON

“Reese believes that planet Earth is ultimately a pretty good place and it’s getting better all the time.” — Los Angeles Times Magazine

  • Claire Wyckoff – New York Journal of Books – “Mr. Reese writes with the authority of someone who has developed groundbreaking technologies and made money doing it. . . . he writes as an evangelist.”
  • The Washington Post – “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.”
  • Business Insider –  “[He] seems like a kooky — and awesome — guy. We’d love to buy him a beer.”
  • Entrepreneur Magazine – “The key to Reese’s success is organization.”
  • Wired Magazine – “Reese is a tall Texan who serves as Demand’s chief innovation officer and who created the idea-spawning algorithm that lies at the heart of Demand’s process.”
  • Entrepreneur – “The key to Reese’s success is organization.”
  • Financial Times of London – “Byron Reese is typical of the new wave of internet entrepreneurs out to turn the economics of the media industry on its head.”
  • Reader’s Digest – “Reese’s credo is simple: ‘News should give you an accurate view of the world.’ He may have hit a nerve.”
  • Emerge Marketing Strategies – “The Fourth Age = A+ For Content,”

FAN EMAIL

“I read your book Infinite Progress and I love it,” – President of Mexico Vicente Fox in an invitation for Byron to present the book at the Presidential Library.

  • “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
  • A few years ago I read your book, “Infinite Progress”. I admit to being an initial skeptic about some of the things I read there, but as I thought more about it, I was able to feel much more optimistic about the future. It was fun to let my imagination run wild about the possibilities the “free” energy would have for transforming the world. Thanks for making this important contribution to my life. – Dr. Michael W. Thompson, Ph.D., Professor: Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Baylor 
  • I’ve never read any books about the Future before, but I’ve already finished your book over the past several days. I really enjoyed [it] and found it greatly inspiring. – Jacob Van der Wiel
  • I want to tell you how inspiring your book, Infinite Progress is to read. Really gets the blood flowing thinking about the near future. Your thoughts on disruptive innovation got my mind moving in directions that I thought were not possible with people my age, 60. – Sam Lanni
  • My name is Steve Whitt. I am writing to you from Roto, an exhibit design firm in Dublin, Ohio. I am working with the folks at the Science Museum of Virginia on a new exhibition called “Speed.” I recently finished your book Infinite Progress and it was quite inspiring for me. – Steve Whitt
  • I am really impressed with your book Infinite Progress. Have you ever thought about speaking to High School students? I am planning to create an annual Conference Event of the type of TED. But of course…. smaller. How could I book one of your talks? – Ricardo Melendez
  • I’m halfway through your book and so far it is a must-read for people that want to learn what is going to happen in the future. – Nathan Waldron
  • I LOVE Infinite Progress Byron. You rocked it. It makes the best case for science and technology progress that I’ve ever read, and as a tech foresight educator I’ve read a lot of books in this space….I’m a HUGE fan of your work and perspective. – John M Smart
  • I enjoyed your book, “Infinite Progress: How the Internet and Technology Will End Ignorance, Disease, Poverty, Hunger, and War”. Last year I offered my home schooled 7 nieces and nephews (who live in Dallas and San Angelo Texas) $500 if they would read the book “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies” and write a 5 page paper. Only my 13 year old nephew Nathan did it. This year, I am giving him the same offer with your book as I think it could make a significant impact on his life. Your book gives a roadmap of what the future may hold. Thanks for writing it. – Doug Hohulin
  • I was stimulated and encouraged by your book. I hope it meets with wide circulation and lots of reviews by readers across the political and economic spectrum. It deserves to be read. – Paul and Kelly Mastin
  • I recently finished reading Infinite Progress and am starting to write a review of the book for our audiences. I must say that reading your book (along with Alec Foege’s The Tinkerers) has energized me at a time when it often appears we are surrounded by walls of ignorance [fueled in part by such books as Deep Green Resistance. – Duggan Flanakin
  • Just finished your book – GREAT read! Love the positive spirit – genuinely inspiring. Reminded me a lot of the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh, but with a modern, technological (and occasionally funny) vibe. – John Fiorella
  • I really do think Infinite Progress is an incredible book. Most of what I hear from friends and family is that we are in the downward of society. I can’t wait to share the insights from Infinite Progress with them. – Tim Deniston

 

ABOUT BYRON

SOCIAL CHANNELS

SHORT BIO

Byron Reese is the founder of several high-tech companies. He has obtained or has pending numerous patents in disciplines as varied as crowd sourcing, content creation, and psychographics. The websites he has launched, which cover the intersection of technology, business, science and history, have together received over a billion visitors. He is the author of “Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think,” due out Aug. 16, 2022, “The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity,” and “Infinite Progress: How Technology and the Internet Will End Ignorance, Disease, Hunger, Poverty, and War.”

LONG BIO

There are the people who hope the future will be better, then there are the people who reason the future will be better. Byron is the second variety. Both a futurist and optimist, Byron believes we are approaching a Fourth Age for humanity that promises to be infinitely better than anything we have seen before.

Byron strives to help business leaders understand the implications of emerging technologies and their impacts on business and society. In Byron’s most recent book, “Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think,” Byron argues that we owe our special status to our ability to imagine the future and recall the past, escaping the perpetual present that all other living creatures are trapped in. Byron is also the author of “Wasted, How We Squander Time, Money, and Natural Resources and What We Can Do About It,” “The Fourth Age: How Technology and the Internet Will End Ignorance, Disease, Hunger, Poverty, and War,” and “Infinite Progress, How the Internet and Technology Will End Ignorance, Disease, Poverty, Hunger, and War.”

Byron possesses a diverse body of patented work, and enjoys talking about the intersection of technology, history and the future to both technical and non-technical audiences around the world. Byron 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. As a lifelong entrepreneur with multiple IPOs and successful exits, Byron frequently speaks to business audiences about how to excel in the world of tomorrow, and how to deploy technology successfully.

He states: “Technology multiplies human ability. That’s its trick. It magnifies us. We can move more bricks with a fork lift than we can on our back. Technological advancement is not to be feared, but should be welcomed, for by enhancing human ability, we enhance our productivity and therefore our standard of living. This is the entire reason why we live so much more lavish and prosperous lives than did our great grandparents. An hour of our time is vastly more productive than was an hour of theirs.”

Bloomberg Businessweek credits Byron with having “quietly pioneered a new breed of media company.” The Financial Times of London reported that he “is typical of the new wave of internet entrepreneurs out to turn the economics of the media industry on its head.”

Byron and his work have been featured in hundreds of news outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, NPR, and the LA Times Magazine.

Specialties: Entrepreneurship, executive leadership, product conception and creation, and an optimistic can-do, scrappy, “anything is possible” attitude. As a public speaker, Byron has addressed hundreds of corporations and professional organizations on almost every continent, and reports he is open to traveling to Antarctica to round it all out.

IMAGES OF BYRON

QUOTES

FEARING AI

“We are entering a world of more choice and more opportunity than ever before, and the best response is to expand our dreams and expectations, not our fears and concerns.” – Byron Reese

“Robots and artificial intelligence will change the world, empowering humans to be more productive and live better lives. We will use these technologies to end disease, hunger, and poverty. We should no more fear these than our ancestors should have feared steam power and electricity.” – Byron Reese

TECHNOLOGY

“I love thinking about the future. I love technology. I earn my living by it. I live it, breathe it, and am fascinated by all it has to offer us, all it has done for us. Thus, I encourage others to imagine the endless potential within each of us to create a tomorrow infinitely better than today as we enter a new Fourth Age for humanity.” – Byron Reese

“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”

THE FUTURE OF WORK

“Workers today should be no more fearful of AI and robots than our great grandparents should have been fearful of mechanization and electricity. Those devices changed the workplace, but they did so by empowering workers, not replacing them. This is what will happen this time as well.” – Byron Reese

“Every year the percentage of billionaires who made their own money as opposed to inheriting it, goes up. Google and Facebook alone minted 12 new billionaires between them. That’s the power of the technology. It is now easier than ever for those with modest means and a great idea to reach the entire world.” – Byron Reese

“When 90% of people farmed, the 10% that didn’t undoubtedly looked upon those that did as capable of little else. The idea that those very people could become lab techs, marketing directors, and ice sculptors would have struck them as ludicrous. ‘They are just plain farmers,’ would have been the common retort. But people farmed because we needed farmers, not because that was all they could do. And I believe that a great part of the workforce needs to be liberated from the drudgery of doing the work a machine can do.” – Byron Reese

INNOVATION AND EDUCATION

“Think about AT&T, 3M, NCR and Geico. They are all acronyms. And if you know what they stand for, you will notice something interesting: None of them simply do the thing that is in their name. These companies transformed themselves. And yet, why doesn’t Blockbuster own streaming video? Why doesn’t Kodak dominate in the digital camera world? These cases, and many more like it, are examples of entrenched companies failing to adopt a transformative technology.” – Byron Reese

“Our world is full of countless institutions, each of which evolved over that long history to fill a specific purpose. The institutions upon which our world rests will play a big part in how the future unfolds.” – Byron Reese

 

RELIANCE ON AI

“Our descendants are going to look back on this and they’re going to think we just kind of staggered through our lives like drunken sailors on shore leave, just making these decisions just kind of randomly.” – Byron Reese

“Artificial intelligence’s time has finally come. It’s the ability to make better decisions.” – Byron Reese

“There will be oracle (i.e. technology) that will say, ‘This will be the best thing for you to do.’” – Byron Reese

MEDIA GUIDELINES

Preferred Link:

Whenever promoting the book, please link to http://byronreese.com/FourthAge

Let us know:

When you post a review or promotion, please let us know so that we can add / link to your promotion from http://byronreese.com/FourthAge/Reviews.

Interview Resources

Talking Points

Interview Topics

  • Why AI is good for humanity
  • How automation creates, not destroys, jobs
  • Ethics of AI and regulating morality
  • Why so many fear AI
  • Why experts disagree so intensely about the merits and pitfalls of AI
  • The coming shortage of human workers
  • The end of poverty, hunger, disease, and war
  • Why AI is the best thing to ever happen to humanity
  • Income inequality and equity
  • The end of dehumanizing jobs
  • Automation, AI, and the Future of Work
  • The Jobs of Tomorrow
  • Innovation in a rapidly changing World
  • Can AI find a cure for death?
  • Education in the 21st century

Interview Questions

  • While so many believe AI will destroy jobs, why do you believe AI will actually create more work for humans?
  • What is the biggest threat you see that #AI poses to Humanity?
  • How do we address the moral and ethical aspects of #AI?
  • Do you see AI eventually helping humanity form a global code of ethics, a universal standard of morality?
  • What will education look like in the 21st century?
  • As we learn to rely more and more on AI are we at risk of diminishing our own intelligence?

Book Byron

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