Earlier this week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's all-employee email included the following:
"We live in a mobile-first and cloud-first world. Computing is ubiquitous and experiences span devices and exhibit ambient intelligence. Billions of sensors, screens and devices - in conference rooms, living rooms, cities, cars, phones, PCs - are forming a vast network and streams of data that simply disappear into the background of our lives. This computing power will digitize nearly everything around us and will derive insights from all of the data being generated by interactions among people and between people and machines. We are moving from a world where computing power was scarce to a place where it now is almost limitless, and where the true scarce commodity is increasingly human attention."
So scarily true. We barely have the time to spend our attention on deciding how to spend our attention, and, rest assured, it will not get better. In fact, if you want to picture what it might be like in a hundred years, Mr. Mather's book gives one of the best predictions I've seen for our future, a future in which we have virtual selves to extend our self far beyond what is currently possible, so that those selves can explore our multiverse, looking at future possibilities and advising avoidance of the unpleasant ones, and even screening what we, the "primary self" see, so that we are not overrun with advertisements and other attention-grabbing devices. Add to that some other technological advances, such as the technology to use weather to wage war, and add in a trillionaire's complex life in the multiverse, along with the lives of other important and interesting characters, all having some sort of flaw, but all (well, almost all) likable, and you've got a helluva good book. And it is.
But, that's only half of the picture. The other half involves how the "end of time" is brought about, and this is just as fascinating, if not more so, than the technology of distributed consciousness. I have always enjoyed end-of-time scenarios, and this one takes the prize for most inventive of all.
And, I must say that I really appreciate the research that Mr. Mather puts into his work. He has clearly done his research on AI, philosophy of mind (consciousness), biology (Simon Conway Morris' "convergent evolution"), and the various myths regarding the end of times.
I also like the fact that he keeps the action going, keeping your mind engaged throughout.
I highly recommend this book and the two predecessors in this trilogy (Atopia and CyberStorm)
Note that I was provided an Advance Review Copy at no cost.