Machines of Loving Grace: John Markoff in Conversation with John Hollar

Posted By on April 22, 2016

As robots are increasingly integrated into modern society—on the battlefield and the road, in business, education, and health—those who design the machines have a stark choice to make. They can design systems to enhance the quality of human work and life-or they can design systems that replace humans entirely. Both approaches will reshape the modern world. In MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots, Pulitzer-Prize-winning New York Times reporter John Markoff, explores this issue and searches for an answer to one of the most important questions of our age: will these robots help us . . . or will they replace us?

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

by Richard Brautigan

Markoff, who was the first reporter to describe the World Wide Web, travels across the country, from the brain trusts in Palo Alto and Silicon Valley to the expanding tech corridor between Boston—home of MIT—and New York, the latest incubator for future tech development, and evaluates the present state of the A.I. versus I.A. debate. He goes deep inside the science fiction worlds of Battlestar Galactica, Terminator, and the Jetsons, which are fast becoming a reality, and talks to the insiders—scientists, entrepreneurs, ethicists, hackers and others—who are shaping the future. The result is an incisive and chilling look at our lives today—and what may come tomorrow.

Museum CEO John Hollar will moderate a captivating conversation with John Markoff on the evolution of our relationship with robots and the profound changes the future might hold.


Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.

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