• List Price: CDN$ 36.50
  • You Save: CDN$ 9.40 (26%)
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.ca. Gift-wrap available.
A Dangerous Master: How t... has been added to your Cart
+ CDN$ 6.49 shipping
Used: Like New | Details
Condition: Used: Like New
Comment: SHIPS FROM USA - PLEASE ALLOW 10 to 21 BUSINESS DAYS FOR DELIVERY. LIKE NEW/UNREAD!!! Text is Clean and Unmarked! Tracking is not available for orders shipped outside of the United States.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

A Dangerous Master: How to Keep Technology from Slipping Beyond Our Control Hardcover – Jun 2 2015

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
CDN$ 27.10
CDN$ 20.07 CDN$ 11.42

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
click to open popover

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • You'll save an extra 5% on Books purchased from Amazon.ca, now through July 29th. No code necessary, discount applied at checkout. Here's how (restrictions apply)

No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (June 2 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465058620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465058624
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #304,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

Product Description


“A Dangerous Master is reminiscent of—and sometimes even references—about a million popular books and movies: Robert Heinlein’s I Will Fear No Evil; Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot; David Mitchell’s The Bone Doctors; Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go; Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age; GATTACCA; The Matrix; The X Men; The Phantom Menace. But while these works and the various dystopias they depict are characterized as speculative fiction, Wendell Wallach’s book and the various dystopias it depicts warrant neither qualifier. They reside firmly in the real world—or could imminently, if we do not heed his warning to vigilantly track technological developments and constantly assess if the benefits they provide are worth the risks they inevitably engender.”
Ars Technica

“Wallach...deliver[s] sobering assessments of today’s engineering culture.... Neither alarmist nor affirmative, [A Dangerous Master] contain[s] urgent, compelling and relevant calls to consciously embed our values in the systems we design, and to critically engage with our choices.”
New Scientist

“Hordes of technologies emerge in lockstep with warnings of their risks. Ethicist Wendell Wallach sorts the hysteria from the hazards in this magisterial study.”

“This book is a must-read for venture capitalists, investors, asset managers, HFT firms and day traders – as well as concerned civic leaders and politicians.”
—Hazel Henderson, Seeking Alpha

“This appeal for deliberate and thoughtful approaches to humankind’s future will find its audience among those interested in ethics, public policy, and the future of health care.”
Library Journal

“[T]his thoughtful polemic convincingly argues that ‘In striving to answer the question “can we do this?” too few ask “should we do this?”’.... Readers will admire this astute analysis while harboring the uneasy feeling that the barn door seems stuck open.”
Publishers Weekly

“A well-mounted argument that deserves wide consideration.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Wendell Wallach, it seems, is always a few years ahead of the rest of us. In this marvelous book, he takes us to the technological frontier and shows us where, why, and how our most promising technologies could turn on us. Wallach is levelheaded and thoughtful, combining his encyclopedic knowledge of emerging technology with a sense of history and an abiding respect for humanity. A Dangerous Master is fascinating, important, and—in defiance of its own gravity—a joy to read.”
—Joshua Greene, Director, Harvard Moral Cognition Lab and author of Moral Tribes

"This timely book offers a balanced assessment of the upsides and risks of a wide range of fast-developing technologies. It helps us to think more clearly about what the world will be like in 2050, and deserves a wide readership."
—Martin Rees, Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, University of Cambridge, and author of Universe and Just Six Numbers

"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

“Wendell Wallach has done all of us a service. He has alerted us in detail, and provocatively, that there are dangers as well as gains in our national romance with innovative technologies. Like all heated romances, they can be full of drama and distress, but hard to ignore. His account of the troubled technology romance is well told, and it is one we need to hear.”
—Daniel Callahan, President Emeritus, The Hastings Center

“It would be hard to find a more thoughtful, better prepared guide through the difficult terrain of emerging technologies than Wendell Wallach, as he demonstrates yet again in this comprehensive, erudite, and highly readable book. This is a must read volume for anyone who wants to understand the world we have already created, not to mention the one that is rapidly coming into being as technological evolution, already fast, continues to accelerate.”
—Braden Allenby, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Arizona State University

“Wendell Wallach’s A Dangerous Master does a masterful job of describing in an accessible but precise manner the emerging technologies that will transform our lives and society while also delving into the profound and fascinating ethical and social implications of these technologies.”
—Gary Marchant, Regents’ Professor of Law, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University

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.

Customer Reviews

There are no customer reviews yet on Amazon.ca
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa36136cc) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa33631e0) out of 5 stars Who is in control? June 27 2015
By Joel Marks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wendell Wallach is the go-to person for informed and level-headed insights and ideas about the contemporary technological condition of humanity. For the last decade I have had the privilege of sitting in on his working group at Yale’s Interdisciplinary Bioethics Center and observing his tireless efforts to address every facet of our sociotechnical situation. Scores of experts, recruited by Wallach on his continual travels to conferences in the U.S. and abroad, have introduced us to the marvels and dangers, the dreams and realities, the problems and possible solutions engendered by the ever more rapidly proliferating products of science and engineering. This book represents the full flowering of Wallach’s project.

What is distinctive about “A Dangerous Master” is not only its comprehensive survey of such a vast terrain, but also its critical take on the risks and speculations that surround this topic. On the one hand Wallach does surely want to stress the omnipresent hazards that lurk in every corner of this brave new world. On the other hand he wants to bring our thinking about them down to earth by separating science-fiction-and-film-fueled myth from laboratory fact.

By this means Wallach wants to impress upon us that we humans still can be, and should be, in control. We need not, and should not, surrender to a supposed inevitability of machine dominance, not to mention, transformation of our very nature into something machine-like. No matter how magical the prospect seems to some (I will never forget the moment in one of our meetings when the speaker’s mention of technological magic moved several of us to reach into pocket or purse and hold up our new smartphone for the group’s awed admiration), or dystopian to others, neither the state of the art (and science) nor the inherent complexity of the issues need reduce us to ineffectual indulgence in fantasy or else utter hopelessness.

To this end Wallach highlights the notion of an inflection point, which is a brief interval at the cusp of a new development, in this case technological, where a real opportunity exists for society to assess and affect that development, sometimes even unto halting it in its tracks if it is deemed too dangerous. The book gives a case study of Wallach’s attempt to seize such a moment that now exists for the creation and global dispersal of autonomous weapons. At the same time Wallach does not want society to squelch promising and even essential new technologies due to unwarranted fears.

The book concludes with various practical suggestions for how humanity might try to achieve wise governance of our mechanical creations so that they will remain our “good servants” rather than become our “dangerous masters.”
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa39b42a0) out of 5 stars An Illuminating Read June 27 2015
By Roger Merrifield - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Despite the many benefits realized from emerging technologies, one becomes increasingly fearful of its more sinister aspects. From the media's relentless (complicit?) coverage of ISIS - a movement that essentially owes its global awareness ascension to social media - to the international race to see who can best whom in the world of hacking one another's most private information, it is easy for those of us less technology-inclined to feel pawns in an increasingly dangerous technology-driven world. In his most recent book, A Dangerous Master, author and ethicist Wendell Wallach educates readers on the accelerating momentum of technology accompanied in far too many cases by the disturbing lack of discourse beforehand concerning possible negative repercussions associated with its adaptation. Modern society, it seems, places a higher value on the continuous and rapid introduction of new technologies at the expense of having to deal after the fact with any negative consequences. According to Wallach; "Unfortunately, being seen as active during an actual crisis carries more weight with the chattering classes than having staved off a crisis that never develops." Wallach discusses a broad range of leading-edge technologies and their inevitable impact on all of us with sensitivity and clarity. This techno-neophyte found A Dangerous Master illuminating, if not comforting.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa367593c) out of 5 stars Serious Questions About Our Future in a World of Rapid and Complex Technological Change - We Ignore Them At Our Peril Aug. 12 2015
By Loyd Eskildson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Baidu, among others, are hiring artificial intelligence researchers at an unprecedented rate - putting hundreds of millions into a race for better algorithms and smarter computers. Some scientific and technology luminaries (eg. Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, have expressed considerable concern over where rapid advances in AI will take us. Fear of mass-produced Terminators, genetically-modified human embryos, self-driving cars, killer robots, uncontrollable emerging viruses, allowing humans to live to 150, etc. are becoming public more frequently.

Author Wallach's first example is that of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Prior to its startup, several knowledgeable scientists warned of the possibility it would create a tiny black hole into which Earth would disappear. Previously physicists working on the Manhattan Project worried that atomic bombs could set off a chain reaction in the earth's atmosphere - ending human life. Wallach's point is not that these predictions did not occur (actually, some scientists warn the LHC disaster may yet occur, but that these risks are appearing in more and more areas of endeavor and that it is also becoming increasingly difficult to objectively evaluate them because of their often probabilistic nature, occurring on the frontiers of science where clear answers are not available, and the invariable self-interests of involved individuals and entities. Potential economic and social order disasters may await in a world in which robots do almost all the work. Recent natural disasters (the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 and, a new strain of swine flu in 2009, along with man-made disasters (eg. thalidomide, Vioxx, Chernobyl, Union Carbide's Bhopal leak, the 2010 NYSE 'flash crash,' aerosol spray CFCs, and the growing threat to infrastructure posed by hackers. Geoengineering will become increasingly attractive as Global Warming progresses - and the risk of disastrous unexpected results.

Regulations offer a theoretical defense - but examination quickly exposes that defense as a chimera. Not only for reasons of complexity, unknown interactions, reaching tipping points, and vested interests, but also because of the increasing ease for DIY malefactors to operate and a political environment turning more and more against regulation.

Bottom-Line: 'A Dangerous Master' raises important points and offers credible prior examples. However, the book should have been condensed into an article.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3b44ef4) out of 5 stars The map of our future contains vaste areas marked "Here Be Dragons". June 29 2015
By Howard G. Iger MD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you care about your personal future, your family's future, your nations future, the future of the human race, the future of the entire body of living things, and the future of the planet Earth itself, you must read this book.
Wendell Wallach has done a most admirable job of mapping the "Here be Dragons" of our future, in this sensitive, scholarly, and most clearly written work of personal commitment, A DANGEROUS MASTER.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3d33b10) out of 5 stars Technology has great capacity for good....and even greater capacity for harm June 26 2015
By Betsy Kaplan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Self-driving cars are on the streets, drones are filling the skies, and 3D printers are making guns. Technology is advancing rapidly, but because we hear about it piecemeal, we don't fully absorb its ubiquity. "A Dangerous Master" offers a comprehensive look at the pervasive technologies that are outpacing our ability to keep up with them. But, Wallach goes beyond the question of whether technology has already advanced past our ability to control it. Instead, he remains hopeful we're not too late if - and it's a big if - we slow down and implement common sense regulations on those technologies that both seduce us and blind us to the trade-offs that follow. Technological solutions can be worse than the problems they're meant to solve - creating trade-offs that pose ethical conundrums with no easy fix, like the once promising and now problematic solution of hydraulic fracking. We can already solve our most pressing global problems. The question is whether we should. For example, geoengineering technology can decrease global warming by seeding the upper atmosphere with sulfate particles that reflect sunlight. It's easy, fast and inexpensive, except it spews ash into the atmosphere. No one really knows what will happen when we tinker with the upper atmosphere. And, what happens if one country decides to use the technology without regard for its effect on another? Wallach implores us to proceed cautiously and decide our collective priorities before rushing headlong toward places from which we cannot return. He does a great job using specific examples to illustrate the ethical concerns we must confront if we want to keep technology from slipping beyond our control. "A Dangerous Master" is a riveting and important read. I strongly recommend this book. ---Betsy Kaplan, producer for Connecticut Public Radio, WNPR