A Dangerous Master

How to Keep Technology from Slipping Beyond Our Control

by Wendell Wallach

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780465058624
  • 9780465040537
We live in an age of awesome technological potential. From nanotechnology to synthetic organisms, new technologies stand to revolutionize whole domains of human experience. But with awesome potential comes awesome risk: drones can deliver a bomb as readily as they can a new smartphone; makers and hackers can 3D-print guns as well as tools; and supercomputers can short-circuit Wall Street just as easily as they can manage your portfolio.

One thing these technologies can't do is answer the profound moral issues they raise. Who should be held accountable when they go wrong? What responsibility do we, as creators and users, have for the technologies we build? In A Dangerous Master, ethicist Wendell Wallach tackles such difficult questions with hard-earned authority, imploring both producers and consumers to face the moral ambiguities arising from our rapid technological growth. There is no doubt that scientific research and innovation are a source of promise and productivity, but, as Wallach, argues, technological development is at risk of becoming a juggernaut beyond human control. Examining the players, institutions, and values lobbying against meaningful regulation of everything from autonomous robots to designer drugs, A Dangerous Master proposes solutions for regaining control of our technological destiny.

Wallach's nuanced study offers both stark warnings and hope, navigating both the fears and hype surrounding technological innovations. An engaging, masterful analysis of the elements we must manage in our quest to survive as a species, A Dangerous Master forces us to confront the practical—and moral—purposes of our creations.

  • Basic Books; June 2015
  • ISBN: 9780465040537
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: A Dangerous Master
  • Author: Wendell Wallach
  • Imprint: Basic Books
Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780465058624
  • 9780465040537

In The Press

"When it comes to technology, humanity is playing for supremely high stakes—and it's a game we can't walk away from. In his new book A Dangerous Master, Wendell Wallach surveys a wide range of technological risks, and proposes how we humans may evade disaster, leaving the possibility of wondrously good outcomes."
—Vernor Vinge, author of A Fire Upon the Deep and Rainbows End

"It is increasingly difficult to weigh the risks associated with new technologies against the benefits they may bring. Experts often disagree, the public is not certain whose views to trust, and politicians and the market take short-term perspectives that may not be best in deciding whether or not to plunge ahead in the face of uncertainty. A Dangerous Master gives us a balanced and timely guide to navigating the troubled waters of decision-making when new technologies appear. Read it—your uncertainty may not diminish but your ability to cope with it will increase."
—Arthur Caplan, Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor of Bioethics, New York University Langone Medical Center


About The Author

Wendell Wallach is a consultant, ethicist, and scholar at Yale University's Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics. He is the co-author of Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong. He lives in Bloomfield, Connecticut.