The moral and material state of the world is better now than it has ever been. Lest one be tempted to romantize the past or draw outsized conclusions from the day's grim headlines, Pinker stages a long parade of graphs, each more astonishing than the last, depicting the manifold dimensions along which humanity has gradually improved its lot. Progress, it is argued, is the result neither of accident or fate, but is realized throught the continual application of science and reason to humanistic ends.
Enjoyable most, perhaps, for the evocative metaphors Bradbury employs to juxtapose a society immersed in empty pleasures and meaningless distractions to one of mindful sensation and deliberate action. Also, Beatty and is a badass. Oh! And lets not burn books!
Harari's account of humanity's ascension from unremarkable primate to the planet's predominant species is as riveting as it is troubling. Pages devoted to the "cognitive revolution" are especially fascinating for the explanation of how Sapiens, by then already physiologically identical to us, came to thrive among, and perhaps exterminate, all other humans.
The A.I. winter has thawed. Just ask Siri about AlphaGo. Bostrom's widely cited work directs attention to the kinds of existential risk we may encounter as brittle, narrow A.I. aquires general competancy across numerous tasks. The chapter covering the super-intelligent will and instrumental convergence is especially interesting (and worrisome).