Friday, October 25, 2019

Recent Promotion for Automation and Utopia

Can you have your cake and eat it too?

Automation and Utopia has been out for about a month now. I've been doing some promotional work to support it and it has also received its first substantive review. I thought I would provide links to what has been going on here. If you are interested in the book, you can buy a copy at a range of online book sites, including direct from the publisher. If you have read it, you might consider reviewing it online. That would help spread the word.

  • What are we going to do? (Review by John Fanning in the Dublin Review of Books) - Says some very kind things about the book, including "[Danaher] is well versed in the opportunities and problems of a more automated future and his new book provides one of the most wide-ranging discussions of what might be in store…A stimulating and thought-provoking book, fizzing with ideas on a subject that will assume greater importance in the future.” But then also contains some misconceptions of the key arguments. It seems churlish to correct the record but I feel the need to do so:
    • (1) The argument for the Virtual Utopia that I make in the penultimate chapter of the book does not concentrate solely on the idea of a life filled with computer games. The chapter starts with that example but the "utopia of games" that I sketch could have other kinds of games in it, as I hope I make clear in my discussion. Also, the utopia of games is just one of two arguments for the Virtual Utopia.
    • (2) Contrary to the impression created by the review, I don't place much weight on studies like the Oxford (Frey and Osborne) study about 47% of jobs being computerised in my case for technological unemployment. I do cite several such studies but also spend several pages explaining their limitations and then make the argument in a different way. Furthermore, the case for technological unemployment is a relatively small part of the book since lots has been written and said about this already.
    • (3) A minor point: the Gallup poll I cite about 15% of workers being "engaged" at work is not a simple survey that forces workers to describe how they feel about their jobs in one or two words. Rather, the degree of engagement is a measure that is derived from a questionnaire featuring twelve questions. I discuss this in the book. Also, to continue the theme, the Gallup poll is just one piece of evidence cited to support one of the five different arguments I make against work.

  • Reddit "Ask Me Anything" on R/Futurology - The second of two Reddit AMAs I did about the book. This one was on the fututorlogy subreddit. This one is longer than the first one and features substantially more questions and answers.
  • Episode 86 of RoboPsych Podcast - An interview with Tom Guarriello and Carla Diana about the book. This was a lot of fun. We barely scratch the surface of the book, but we do cover some of the main points in the book.

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