I’m with the robots

by Curtis White was recommended to me by somebody whose judgement I trust; he said it was a bit irritating but had made him think.

[amazon_image id=”1612194559″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]We, Robots: Staying Human in the Age of Big Data[/amazon_image]

I didn’t get beyond the irritating. It’s a ranty, rhetorical 279 page tour around all the things the author doesn’t like about the digital world. That’s a lot. Science. Economics. Business. Environmentalism. Oh yes, robots. All economists equally wrong, naturally, in this book (and all American males) – Tyler Cowen, Paul Krugman, Larry Summers, Paul Romer – & it’s hard to tell why they are bracketed together. Is it because they all research…. the economy?

What does pass muster? A Marxist view of the alienation of labour. The prize exhibit is the cubicle life of Dilbert cartoons; this is written by somebody who has never been inside an old-fashioned factory. Structuralism is admired – presented, tendentiously, as the logical conclusion of Hume’s empiricism and scepticism. Nietzsche gets the last word.

On top of that, it’s badly written. I had to keep re-reading sentences to figure out their meaning. Sentences that began with a phrase like ‘This dichotomy…’ turned out to be referring to a dichotomy a paragraph or so earlier. Thoughts lie buried under a mudslide of words.

cites and quotes at length from a far better, challenging, thought-provoking book, by Will Davies. My advice is to read that instead.

[amazon_image id=”1781688451″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold us Well-Being[/amazon_image]