Robots have been trending in literature and film for a long time. But constant advances in technology give us more and more to think—and worry—about. The New York Times video series, Robotica, and the Atlantic article, “A World Without Work,” got me thinking: how is artificial intelligence affecting our lives? Robots already contribute to our labor force, but what happens when they become efficient enough to replace human labor on a larger scale? This recent batch of books address this question and more. Whether readers are eager to welcome our robot overlords or they live in terror of the coming singularity, they’ll find some intriguing data here.
From the Booklist review: “Ford details the disastrous implications for the American workforce, even white-collar workers once thought to be safe from the threat of automation.”
How to Survive a Robot Uprising, by Daniel H. Wilson
Is this satire or an essential guide to the future? Better tuck a couple copies in your bug-out bag just in case it’s the latter.
From the Booklist review: “All things being equal, these four engineering geniuses should have been able to write their own tickets to the best universities in the country. But all things are not equal.” With a starred review from Booklist and a Hollywood film in the works, Spare Parts will surely be in high demand.
Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us, by Rodney Brooks
From the Booklist review: “Brooks sees a day not far off when robots become maids, butlers, and lawn mowers, which, combined with remote sensing, will create a demand in robotics that has previously been confined to manufacturing.”
Mindless: Why Smarter Machines are Making Dumber Humans, by Simon Head
From Basic Books: “An in-depth and disturbing look at how human dignity is slipping as we become cogs on a white collar assembly line.”
The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee
From W. W. Norton: “Brynjolfsson and McAfee identify the best strategies for survival and offer a new path to prosperity. These include revamping education so that it prepares people for the next economy instead of the last one, designing new collaborations that pair brute processing power with human ingenuity, and embracing policies that make sense in a radically transformed landscape.”
Robopocalypse, by Daniel H. Wilson
From the Booklist review: “The first true artificial intelligence, Archos, “awakens” in a computer research center in northwest Washington State and decides that humanity’s dominion over the planet has ended and the time of the machine has begun.”
Speak, by Louisa Hall
From the Booklist review: “Like all good robot novels, Speak raises questions about what it means to be human as well as the meaning of giving voice to memory.”
The Automatic Detective, by A. Lee Martinez
From the Booklist review: “Acting under the advice of his shrink, who suggests he interact more on a social level, Mack [a robot detective] abandons his sedate job as a cab driver and reluctantly becomes enmeshed in an ever-increasing series of bizarre events that end up with the fate of the earth at stake.”
Alex + Ada v. 1, by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn
A depressed young man is in a serious rut until he is gifted a companion robot by his family. This is a collection of the first five issues of the comic series.
Made to Kill, by Adam Christopher (forthcoming)
The Electromagnetic Detective Agency has the world’s last and only robot detective . . . until a brunette strolls through his door, and the search for a missing movie star begins.
The Night Sessions, by Ken MacLeod
In this post-religious noir thriller, robots who learn about a higher power become dangerous.