Hardcover, 496 pages
6.75 in. x 9.5 in. | 170 mm. x 240 mm.
Includes ~130 graphs and hundreds of additional visual aids
From leading AI researcher Blaise Agüera y Arcas comes Who Are We Now? an exploration of how biology, ecology, sexuality, history, and culture have intertwined to create a dynamic “us” that can neither be called natural nor artificial.
Identity politics occupies the front line in today’s culture wars, pitting generations against each other, and progressive cities against the rural traditions of our past. Rich in data and detail, Who Are We Now? goes beyond today’s headlines to connect our current reality to a larger more-than-human story.
At the heart of the book is a set of surveys conducted between 2016 and 2021, asking thousands of anonymous respondents all over the United States questions about their behavior and identity, and especially about gender and sexuality. The resulting window into people’s lives is a bit like that of the Kinsey Reports, which scandalized postwar America more than 70 years ago. Today, the landscape is—in every sense—even queerer. Twentieth century heterosexual “normalcy” is on the wane, particularly among young and urban people.
The landscape outside has changed too. After millennia of being fruitful and multiplying, we’ve strained, and exceeded, planetary limits. Domesticated animals far outweigh wildlife, and many species are in catastrophic decline. Yet curiously, our own population is poised to begin collapsing this century too, our fertility now curbed by choice rather than by premature death. Is this the end of humanity—or the beginning?
Blaise Agüera y Arcas is a frequent speaker at TED and many other conferences, winner of MIT’s TR35 Prize and Fast Company’s Most Creative People award, and a Vice President and Fellow at Google Research. He leads a 500-person team working on Artificial Intelligence (AI), large language models, smart devices, technology ethics, and privacy. Publicly visible projects from his team include Federated Learning, Artists and Machine Intelligence, Coral, and many AI features in Pixel and Android. In 2016, he wrote a widely read essay on the relationship between art and technology, and in 2017 he co-authored another popular essay on physiognomy and bias in AI and a refutation of claims that facial structure reveals sexual orientation. Some of this material has been incorporated into the book's third and fourteenth chapters. His early involvement in large language models and generative AI prompted op-eds in the Economist and essays in Noēma, as well as inspiring the novella Ubi Sunt, also published by Hat & Beard Press.
Advance praise for Who Are We Now?:
“A fascinating, provocative account of the contradictions and complications of identity and community in the technological age.” —Sonia Katyal - Distinguished Law Professor and Co-director, Center for Law and Technology, UC Berkeley School of Law
“This is that rare book that not only explores a fascinating topic, but that teaches you how to think more deeply about any topic. Insightful and original.” —Tim O’Reilly - Author, publisher, and founder of O’Reilly Media