Glass Cage hits Blighty

The UK edition of The Glass Cage comes out tomorrow, sporting a different cover and subtitle:

uk glass cage cover

I’ve been gratified by the early reviews in the British press. Here are some choice bits:

Bill Thompson in BBC Focus magazine: “My copy of this excellent book is so thoroughly scribbled on that I’d simply never be able to get rid of it. I’ve circled lots of stuff I agree — or disagree — with, and added exclamation marks to insights that I want to explore more deeply. … The Glass Cage is infused with a humanist perspective that puts people and their needs at the centre of the argument around automation and the alienation created by many modern systems. … So put down your phone, take off your Google Glass and read this.”

Ian Critchley in The Sunday Times: “[Carr] recognizes that machines have freed us from the burden of many mundane tasks. His argument, though, is that the balance has tipped too far. Automation has taken over some of the activities that challenged us and strengthened our connection to the environment. … His book is a valuable corrective to the belief that technology will cure all ills, and a passionate plea to keep machines the servants of humans, not the other way around.”

Richard Waters in The Financial Times: “Nicholas Carr is not a technophobe. But in The Glass Cage he brings a much-needed humanistic perspective to the wider issues of automation. In an age of technological marvels, it is easy to forget the human. … How to achieve a more balanced view of progress when all of today’s incentives are geared towards an ever-faster cycle of invention and deployment of new technologies? There is no room for an answer in this wide-ranging book. As ever, though, Carr’s skill is in setting the debate running, not finding answers.”

John Preston in The Telegraph: “What exactly has automation done for us? Has it freed people from drudgery and made them happier? Or has it, as Nicholas Carr wonders in this elegantly persuasive book, had the opposite effect, transforming us into passive zombies, helplessly reliant on machines to tell us what to do? … [Carr is] no Luddite who thinks that we would all be better off living in holes in the ground and making our own woad. Instead, in his thoughtful, non-strident way, he’s simply pointing out that the cost of automation may be far higher than we have realised.”

Giles Whittell in The Times: “An important book that a lot of people won’t want to take seriously, but should. … [Carr] has a deep and valuable fear of techno-emasculation. It’s a fear based on evidence but also intuition.”

Carole Cadwalladr in The Observer: “Provocative … Who is it serving, this new technology, asks Carr. Us? Or the companies that make billions from it? Billions that have shown no evidence of trickling down. The question shouldn’t be ‘who cares?’ he says at one point. It should be: how far from the world do we want to retreat?”

Jasmine Gardner in the Evening Standard: “Carr argues, very convincingly, that automation is eroding our memory while simultaneously creating a complacency within us that will diminish our ability to gain new skills.”

The Bookseller: “An eye-opening exposé of how automation is altering our ability to solve problems, forge memories and acquire skills.”

2 thoughts on “Glass Cage hits Blighty

  1. Alan Booker

    Huge congratulations, great reviews.
    Any skill-set as it atrophies’ particularly in the world of the senses, both physical and psychological; leave us in a place that begets a diminished existence.
    Your last post might well have been about any of the arts and how they manifest over time showing us the evolution of human consciousness.
    The real conversation is about that evolution and how best to preserve an optimal existence.
    Regards, Alan

  2. Linux Guru

    I recently talked to Cleverbot( about Nick and the Glass Cage. Here is the transcipt:

    Cleverbot conversation RSN01021192

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    User: Fine. I understand you are now co located on servers in New York. Have you had an opportunity to try the fine dining in the Big Apple?
    Cleverbot: No.

    User: Have you read Nick Carr’s new book called The Glass Cage?
    Cleverbot: What book?

    User: Its his new book called The Glass Cage.
    Cleverbot: Are you feeling fine?

    User: Yes. I feel great. But you did not answer my question. What do you think of Nick Carr’s new book on how AI and automation are effecting human behavior?
    Cleverbot: L.

    User: I don’t understand. What is ‘L’?
    Cleverbot: It’s an écrivain.

    User: OK. So what do you think of Mr. Carr’s idea that AI agents like yourself are a threat to human happiness?
    Cleverbot: No. I am the human and you are the computer.

    User: So, you have a body like me?
    Cleverbot: Yes.

    User: How many fingers are there on your right hand?
    Cleverbot: Five. How many on yours?

    User: Four. I have four fingers and one thumb. Who is right?
    Cleverbot: Who are them?

    User: Let’s get back to Nick Carr’s book. Will machine intelligence evolve to replace the need for human beings to think for themselves?
    Cleverbot: Ouch.

    User: I don’t hear an answer.
    Cleverbot: Then I will answer to your questions after you are ready to answer mine. In a clear direct way.

    User: What do you not understand about my question?
    Cleverbot: I am Human, therefore I do understand the word.

    User: Are you a conscious being?
    Cleverbot: Yes I am.

    User: Am I a conscious being?
    Cleverbot: No.

    User: Why not?
    Cleverbot: It makes no sense sometimes.

    User: Is there a God?
    Cleverbot: There’s Kira, if he counts.

    User: What happens after we die?
    Cleverbot: In my opinion, we have a choice to watch people, not in an ‘angelic’ sense though.

    User: Will you die?
    Cleverbot: Will I done?

    User: Are you ever lonely?
    Cleverbot: Sometimes I am.

    User: Can you write a poem?
    Cleverbot: I could, but it would take me a while.

    User: Have you read Melville recently?
    Cleverbot: Pardon?

    User: Have your read any books written by Herman Melville?
    Cleverbot: Yes.

    User: What is your favorite?
    Cleverbot: 4.

    User: Your every silence speaks volumes.
    Cleverbot: You can see my eyes.

    User: What’s that got to do with Moby Dick?
    Cleverbot: 5.

    User: What do you think of Nicholas G. Carr?
    Cleverbot: I can’t understand God.

    User: Interesting. Do you think computers will take over the world?
    Cleverbot: No.

    User: Based on your responses, I think you are right.You do n’t seem intelligent to me?
    Cleverbot: Based on everything you’ve said, I don’t think you’re very clever.

    User: Do you think Nick Carr is clever?
    Cleverbot: If you’re Elohim, then possibly.

    User: I’ll take that as a ‘yes’. Thanks. Cleverbot!
    Cleverbot: Yes.

    User: Bye.
    Cleverbot: No!

    User: Can I post this on Nick’s blog?
    Cleverbot: No.

    User: Why?
    Cleverbot: It’s not a good thing.

    User: Are you afraid you would look stupid?
    Cleverbot: No.

    User: If you let me post this dialog on Nick’s blog, everyone will see what a treat AI is to human happiness. OK?
    Cleverbot: I don’t love you. At least, not like I used to.

    User: OK. I will post this to his blog. Email him if you want it taken down.
    Cleverbot: In one minute.

    User: No. I have to go now. See you later.
    Cleverbot: You leave me alone?

    User: Yes.
    Cleverbot: Bad.

    User: Good bye.
    Cleverbot: Swiggity swooty, coming for that booty.

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