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To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death by Mark O'Connell

About the book

Published by Granta Books

What is transhumanism? Simply put, it is a movement whose aim is to use technology to fundamentally change the human condition, to improve our bodies and minds to the point where we become something other, and better, than the pesky, emotional, flesh-and-bone animals we are. It's a philosophy that, depending on how you look at it, can seem hopeful, or terrifying, or absurd.

In To Be a Machine, Mark O'Connell presents us with the first full-length exploration of transhumanism: its philosophical and scientific roots, its key players and possible futures. From charismatic techies seeking to enhance the body to immortalists who believe in the possibility of 'solving' death; from computer programmers quietly re-designing the world to vast competitive robotics conventions; To Be a Machine is an Adventure in Wonderland for our time. A stunning new non-fiction voice tackles an urgent question...what next for mankind?

About the author

Mark O'Connell, 38, is a journalist, essayist, and literary critic. He is a books columnist for Slate, a staff writer at The Millions, and a regular contributor to the New Yorker's 'Page-Turner' blog and the Dublin Review; his work has been published in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, and the Observer.  He lives in Dublin.

The judges said:

To Be a Machine offers an unsparing look at those espousing the ideas of transhumanism. It’s a new spin on the old question: how do we cheat death? The writer casts a humorous scepticism on the idea of immortality and provides a timely examination of the mindset behind the people and concepts that shape our world and our futures. O’Connell is a very astute observer, and produces excellent character sketches.