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Summary

Artificial intelligence (AI) is overtaking our human ability to absorb and process information. Robots are becoming increasingly dexterous, flexible, and safe to be around (except the military ones). AI is our most powerful technology, and you need to understand it.

This new book from best-selling author Calum Chace argues that within a few decades, most humans will not be able to work for money. Self-driving cars will probably be the canary in the coal mine, providing a wake-up call for everyone who isn't yet paying attention. All jobs will be affected, from fast food McJobs to lawyers and journalists. This is the single most important development facing humanity in the first half of the 21st century.

The fashionable belief that universal basic income is the solution is only partly correct. We are probably going to need an entirely new economic system, and we better start planning soon - for the economic singularity!

The outcome can be very good; a world in which machines do all the boring jobs and humans do pretty much what they please. But there are major risks, which we can only avoid by being alert to the possible futures and planning how to avoid the negative ones.

©2016 Calum Chace (P)2016 Calum Chace

Critic reviews

"Read The Economic Singularity if you want to think intelligently about the future." (Aubrey de Grey)

What members say

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not bad but a bit of a slog at times

The narrator is a bit hard work at times, slightly robotic but he does at least seem interested in the topic. The text is a bit hard going for an audio book and I did have to hit the rewind button a lot as I my mind ran off and tried to really come to terms with what I was hearing but there's some good stuff hear and it's worth it for those interested.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great work on the AI & Robot society choices ahead

Would you listen to The Economic Singularity again? Why?

Quite likely, becuase of the details and nuances Chace considers within his scenarios and the neat way he summarises the positions of other writers in this field.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Economic Singularity?

The pleasant realisation that this author would NOT duck the big question. We have heard enough from authors retelling the coming singularity message in different ways. The frustration is that so few have had the nerve to examine the ways in which societal choices and scenarios might actually have to play out. Bravo to Chace.

Which character – as performed by Joe Hempel – was your favourite?

This is non-fiction work. Hemel does a perfectly serviceable and clear oration job. However this is one example of a book that might have been better voiced by its author. Alternatively a British English accented voice actor should have been chosen. There are times when the many UK example references the author makes and a few of the quirks of British English jar with the American accent. No criticism of Hempel here - it is the publisher's choice.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Chace gets as close as anyone to realising there might have to be a new paradigm shift to something beyond capitalism as we know it. I found myself almost willing him to reach for it and he says himself he's getting close. Despite his general intellectual bravery in examining the various social and political scenarios - he didn't get there.

Any additional comments?

A fantastic book. A genuine must read for anyone who needs to explore long term (20 - 30 year) scenarios for business planning or government policy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • CM
  • 16-04-18

Pretty scary

Any additional comments?

This title provides a pretty scary view of the future - there are certainly a lot of changes that our societies are going to have to face should AI become the reality that it is likely to become. This book provides a profound view into the foreseeable future with respect to works and lives of the ordinary person.

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fascinating ideas about the future

If you are wondering what they future might look like, that is a perfect book.

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A great premise, but I struggled to finish it

There are some interesting points, but really the book can be summarised by the sentence: machines will do all the labour in future generations and we'll have to be careful how we make use of our free time, whilst maintaining some level of economic equality.

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An important book looking at the future

As automation and AI progress jobs will be lost and some and eventually all will not be replaced. This is a great primer in how this will happen and what our options may be.

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more socialist crap with no idea how economics wks

The author imagines ( wrongly) a post scarcity world were price and capitalism no longer functions.

All it delivers is his lack of vision and lack of depth in understanding people and the world.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 03-08-16

What will happen when humans become obsolete?

Any additional comments?

"The arrival of machine intelligence is also the arrival of a different kind of automation which spells the end of paid work for many or most people." ---Calum Chace
A concise, mostly accessible introduction to this topic that occasionally veers into dry text, or jargon-laden vocabulary (I almost gave up while reading sections in Chapter 3, but I'm so glad I didn't!) A bleak, frightening look into a likely future that is on the horizon. What happens when automation becomes so sophisticated (and cheaper, faster, and better) that it eliminates or fundamentally changes most of the jobs normally reserved for humans? We're not talking about low-level, physically repetitive jobs (these have already become automated: manufacturing, agriculture, some banking transactions), but all jobs throughout our society: lawyers, accounting, architects, journalists, doctors and nurses, financial consultants, teachers, TV presenters, bankers, psychiatrists, political speechwriters, etc., etc. It is not a question of if, but when, this will happen, and how quickly. Can society adapt on this scale by inventing new jobs to replace all the ones that are lost to technology? (the author is somewhat pessimistic on this score) Will the 1% that owns the A.I. help in "sharing the wealth?" (have they ever?) Will our society become a small elite of of tech gods, with the rest of us labeled as useless dead weight, struggling to eke out an impoverished existence without jobs or salaries?
To be fair, the author goes out of his way to present both sides of this issue, from "don't worry; be happy. Humans are adaptable during times of changing technologies" to "The Robots are coming! The Robots are coming!" He sites experts who claim we will live in a utopia (no work!) to ones who see a dystopian future (no money!). He does not argue that these trends toward mass automation will not come to pass; he wonders how humanity will cope/won't cope with this transition----and when: now or when the crisis is upon us.
I received a free copy of this audiobook from AudiobookBoom in exchange for an unbiased review. No robots were directly involved in the writing of this review.

First they came for the fast food workers, and I did not speak out - because I was not a fast food worker;
Then they came for the teachers, and I did not speak out - because I was not a teacher;
Then they came for the accountants, and I did not speak out - because I was not an accountant;
Then they came for the doctors, and I did not speak out - because I was not a doctor;
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • jey cee
  • 10-08-16

Artificial Intelligence

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

This piece of work was more focused than his previous work. This book was more practical and pointed then the other book; maybe it was because the discussed items directly impact me. It is more directed at economics and AI whereas the previous book was covering a broader set of material.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Kurtis Stutsman
  • 04-01-17

A Logical Organization of Relevant Information

Very informative. Worth the time. Well researched. You'll only like it if you are interested in the truth, not in just being entertained.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • J.-M. Kuczynski
  • 18-12-16

Never boring, always illuminating

What did you love best about The Economic Singularity?

This book is actually useful. It identifies professions that are in the process of being automated (and that, when one reflects on the matter, deserve to be automated).

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

It has predictive value.

Which character – as performed by Joe Hempel – was your favorite?

No characters.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

That lawyers are, thankfully, being automated out of existence. Also, that robots are better lawyers than lawyers. Which, to anyone who has ever worked with a lawyer, is not surprising.

Any additional comments?

I listened to this while on the rowing machine. Made exercise a lot more enjoyable.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Edward
  • 18-10-16

Strongly Recommend!

10 years ago, smart phones did not exist. 25 years ago, webpages did not exist. The changes taking place in the upcoming 10 and 25 years will be dramatically more life changing. This book provides an entertaining, thought-provoking, and fairly objective description of what that journey might be like and what roles artificial intelligence may play in it. My personal thoughts are that paradoxically what is described in this book will happen both faster and slower than we expect.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Justin
  • 23-12-16

very relevant, up to date, thought provoking, fair

very relevant, up to date, thought provoking, fair assessments. he introduces several other books that both conflict and supplement his book

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Stefan
  • 22-12-16

An overview done right

This book is an overview into the subject but also paints with quite detail. It has more in depth than surviving ai, but is similarly basing all claims on the most current research and theories. If you thought surviving ai was a bit choppy with new chapters and sub chapters, this is more fleshed out and more a pleasant listen.

There are so many different sources cited that digging further into any specific part of interest is really easy. Great book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • rodrigober
  • 09-11-16

interesting book

interesting for young people that want a perspective on the work of the future of our lives
it gives you a good perspective on the challenges to come and tools to help tackle them

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • David Crammer
  • 03-11-16

insightful or alarmest

I enjoyed the entire book. I'm not sure if it is alarmest or realistic but it seemed feasible.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Fascinatingbooks
  • 15-08-16

Enlightening, entertaining, thought provoking!

Where does The Economic Singularity rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Among the nonfiction books on technology it's at the top.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Economic Singularity?

The speculations, issues and projections in this book were so thought provoking I actually had to stop listening occasionally and think about what I just heard. Written in clear understandable language and narrated by the easy-to-listen-to Joe Hempel, this book is almost mandatory reading for anyone moving into the future, meaning, everybody! I was given a free copy of the audio book for an honest review. I'm pretty sure I would have bought this book anyway because the subject interests me and Joe Hempel rocks as a narrator.

What about Joe Hempel’s performance did you like?

His narration is extremely easy to listen to and follow, he never sounds boring, and his inflection makes all the content clear and understandable. He would be the best science teacher ever, the kind that everyone would want as their teacher.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, it was too densely packed with ideas and concepts to take in all at once. It was not overly technical at all, but the economic implications of soon-to-be technology, the effect on jobs, income, education, and life style were awesome to think about.

Any additional comments?

For anyone interested in the what the near future and the more distant future will bring, who has a job that could be replaced by mechanical intelligence, or who has children that will need to prepare for the times to come, this book is a must read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful