To Be a Machine

Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death

Mark O'Connell

Published: 1 March 2018
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781783781980

About the author

Image of Mark O'Connell

Mark O'Connell is a journalist, essayist, and literary critic from Dublin. He is a books columnist for Slate, a staff writer at The Millions, and a regular contributor to the New Yorker's 'Page-Turner' blog and the Dublin Review; his work has been published in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, and the Observer. More about the author


To Be a Machine is properly amazing. It is stimulating, profound and indecently wittyParaic O'Donnell



‘A voyage into the dark heart of transhumanism, where dwell many hopeful mind-uploaders, robo-warfighters, subdermal implanters, doomed immortalists, and sundry aging Singularitarians. A funny, wise, and oddly moving book’ Nicholson Baker

‘Full of sharp, funny insights into the human in transhumanism: whatever we may become, we haven't yet escaped what we are. This terrific book is as fascinating on how we live now as it is about our possible futures’ Richard Beard

‘If there's one thing scarier than the future, it's the people who are excited about the future. In this extraordinary, utterly vital book, Mark O'Connell documents his encounters with the engineers, apologists and avatars of mankind's imminent - or so they say - merging with machine. Unafraid to ask the big questions, and also the small ones, O'Connell, like some dream combination of Jon Ronson and Don Delillo, switches effortlessly from profound to poignant to laugh-out-loud funny. A brilliant illumination of the techno-future, To Be A Machine is also, and more importantly, a joyful summation of what it is to be human’ Paul Murray

‘In this hilarious and moving volume, Mark O'Connell interweaves his journalistic adventures among the transhumanists with his own thoughts about mortality and life experiences, starting with the birth of his son and ending, memorably, with a colonoscopy. The field of transhumanism and the individuals who populate it emerge as at once bizarre, compelling, and, ironically, deeply human, because what is more human than trying to overcome the limits of our bodies and mortality? Nothing! It's super-detailed and cosmic and minute and high-stakes and funny and sad, all at the same timeElif Batuman

‘O'Connell voyages engagingly into cryonics, brain uploading, artificial superintelligence, four-digit lifespans, as he [...] reflects on the inherently finite nature of human existence. Provocative, funny and not a little gonzo, it's a great one to recommend to devotees of Jon Ronson’ Caroline Sanderson,

‘O'Connell's forensic investigation of the unnervingly fluid border between the human and the machine is elegant and gripping: at once a hilarious anthropological survey of the people who believe technology will give us eternal life and a terrifying account of how technology is changing the cardinal features of human existence’ Olivia Laing

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