AT&T Tech Channel

About this video

Author Summary

Lee Gutkind, dubbed by Vanity Fair as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” is the author and editor of more than 20 books, including the award-winning Many Sleepless Nights, a chronicle of the breakthroughs in the organ transplant world. Gutkind is founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary magazine to publish nonfiction exclusively, and Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes and Professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University.

Gutkind has lectured to audiences around the world—from China to the Czech Republic, from Australia to Africa and most recently, Egypt, where his lectures and workshops concerned, “Writing the Revolution.” His other topics include robots, healthcare and the worldwide storytelling explosion. The need for a personal and public narrative--begins in literature and but extends to advertising, business, politics, law and science, says Gutkind. Creative or narrative nonfiction is a movement—not moment.

Most recently, Gutkind’s anthologies, Becoming a Doctor: From Student to Specialist, Doctor-Writers Share Their Experiences was published by W.W. Norton and Twelve Breaths a Minute: End of Life Stories, a topic about which he speaks with passion and authority, was published by Southern Methodist University Press.

Book Summary

"In the High Bay at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, Segways scoot across the floor chasing and shooting soccer balls while other robots hunt for treasure. Nursebots, developed to care for hospital patients, mingle with a robotic Lara Croft lookalike.” Lee Gutkind immersed himself in this frenzied subculture, and in his book, Almost Human: Making Robots Think, he introduces the reader to Zoe, Groundhog, GRACE (the first Graduate Robot Attending a Conference) and Sandstorm--robots designed to help or in some cases replace humans--as well as the colorful cast of students, researchers, scientists and engineers who are attempting to create robots that can react autonomously to changing circumstances. This includes a team or robots being created to go head to head with the (human) World Cup Soccer champs--and defeat them by the year 2050. Almost Human makes intelligible the discoveries and stumbling points in the world of robotics, while opening our eyes to a world of mechanical mayhem with the promise to produce miracles. Almost Human, says Daily Show host Jon Stewart, on which Lee Gutkind appeared, is "a wild book . . . a crazy suspense story about these kids at Carnegie Mellon and their leader making robots. Fascinating stuff."

Release date: 06/02/2011