book | the Fourth Age

Smart robots, conscious computers + the future of humanity.
April 25, 2018

author: by Byron Reese
year: 2018

In his book The Fourth Age author Byron Reese says technology has changed humanity 3 times in history:

1. we harnessed fire, led to language.
2. we developed agriculture, led to cities + warfare.
3. We invented the wheel + writing, led to the nation state.

We are now on the doorstep of a 4th change brought by two technologies: AI and robotics. The Fourth Age explores this sea change.


The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity
Gigaom publisher Byron Reese

It addresses the big issues of our day. Reese is an optimist says we can build technology to make a better world.

How could artificial intelligence change the world?
Will automation make human workers obsolete?

Using 100,000 years of human history as his guide, he explores:

what’s coming: computer artificial intelligence
what’s coming: super intelligence
what’s coming: robots
human: consciousness
what’s coming: computer creativity

the future of: automation
the future of: employment
the end of: work

the end of: poverty

the future of: warfare

human: immortality
global: ethics
the posssibility of: new synthetic life

the possibility of: new civilzation

global: abundance
global: prosperity


The Fourth Age |

Why is the book called The Fourth Age?

Byron Reese makes the case that technology has reshaped humanity just three times in history:

– 100,000 years ago, we harnessed fire, which led to language.
– 10,000 years ago, we developed agriculture, which led to cities and warfare.
– 5,000 years ago, we invented the wheel and writing, which lead to the nation state.

We are now on the doorstep of a fourth change from 2 key technologies: AI + robotics. How did we get to this point?

By asking questions like “Are you a machine?” and “Could a computer feel anything?”, Reese leads you through a discussion along the cutting edge in robotics and AI, and provides a framework by which we can all understand, discuss, and act on the issues of the Fourth Age, and how they’ll transform humanity.

Read the preface to The Fourth Age here: