From: WIRED magazine, December 1998

Redundancy Has Its Virtues

Robot is a dramatic, awe-inspiring prophecy of the human future by Hans Moravec, computer scientist and robotics guru extraordinaire.  Wired readers sampled Moravec's vision in "Superhumanism" (see Wired 3.10, page 144).  His new book amplifies and substantiates that vision in concise, simple yet elegant prose.
Moravec argues that the concept of work was unknown before agriculture and the industrial revolution and that we'll get rid of it permanently within a few decades, when smart machines free us not only from household chores, but also from exhausting tasks such as writing computer software or managing corporations.  Contrary to popular fears, we'll celebrate our redundancy because, as hunter-gatherers, indolence and unemployment are part of our evolutionary heritage.
The crucial transition should occur around 2030, when robots start basing decisions on internal ruminations rather than trial and error.  After 2040, machines will display most human attributes.  By 2100 rogue intelligences will adopt drastic measures to increase their processing power -- perhaps using sub-subatomic particles for bit manipulation.  This will enable machine entities to run simulations of the 20th century.  In fact, we may be living in one right now.
Robot is an uncompromisingly radical synthesis of sociobiology, computer science, and philosophy.  Some found Moravec's 1988 book Mind Children far-fetched or even repugnant; yet its portrayals of biology reworked by machines are beginning to seem commonplace, which is a measure of Moravec's ability as a futurist.  Robot paints a head-bending but persuasive picture of our next 50 years, augmented with fascinating fragments from the more distant future.
-- Charles Platt

Robot, by Hans Moravec: $25. Oxford University Press.

Copyrightę 1998, The Conde Nast Publications Inc.