Rise of the Machines

Out in North America in June 2016 with W. W. Norton, in the UK and Australia with Scribe, in German as Maschinen­dämmerung with Propyläen Ullstein, and in Mandarin with China Machine Press, a Beijing trade publisher. Recorded Books is doing the audiobook.

Alfred Crimi sketch of a ball turret for Sperry Corp, 1943

“A common theme connects war machines, computer networks, social media, ubiquitous surveillance, and virtual reality. For fifty years or more the same people and the same ideas weave through these innovations united by the term ‘cyber,’ as in cyberspace and cybernetics. Read this amazing history and you’ll go: ‘Aha!’”
— Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired magazine, author of What Technology Wants and The Inevitable

“Sometimes the most important things are hiding in plain sight. At least that’s what I concluded from Rise of the Machines, Thomas Rid’s masterful blending of the art of a storyteller, the discipline of an historian, and the sensitivity of a philosopher. Machines unmasks how really disruptive this ‘cyber thing’ has been and will continue to be to nearly all aspects of human experience. It’s more than food for thought. It’s a banquet.”
— General Michael Hayden, former director of NSA and CIA

Rise of the Machines isn’t just an insightful history of cybernetics but also a fascinating journey with the twentieth-century thinkers—from tech giants and eccentric mathematicians to science fiction writers and counterculture gurus—who have shaped how we understand machines and ourselves.”
— P. W. Singer, author of Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know and Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War

Rise of the Machines is a fascinating history of cybernetics, and of the visionaries like Norbert Wiener who first imagined the potential—and peril—of machines that would begin to replicate the capabilities of the human mind.”
— Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots

“Thomas Rid has provided a gripping account of how after the Second World War, cybernetics, a theory of machines, came to incite anarchy and war half a century later. Thanks to his extensive research we can now read for the first time the real story of ᴍᴏᴏɴʟɪɢʜᴛ ᴍᴀᴢᴇ, the first big state-on-state cyber attack, setting a new narrative standard for historians and journalists alike.”
— Sir David Omand, Director of GCHQ (when ᴍᴏᴏɴʟɪɢʜᴛ ᴍᴀᴢᴇ began), former UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator

Rise of the Machines is strikingly original, compellingly written and deeply topical. It is a guide to our hopes and fears of robotics and computers. Thomas Rid weaves together technological innovation, social change and popular culture in a way that is both surprising and approachable.”
— Gordon Corera, BBC Security Correspondent, author of Intercept

“Everyone I know should read this book. It will be a classic.”
— Robert Lee, former U.S. Air Force Cyber Warfare Operations officer and SANS instructor

“Technology at once defines and exceeds our hopes for the future; it transforms and escapes us. As Thomas Rid makes clear, we live in a world riddled with technological mythologies; where our relationships both with and through machines mould not only daily experience, but our collective unconscious. There can be few finer guides to the geographies of human fear and dreaming within our machine age.”
— Tom Chatfield, author of Live This Book


“An ingenious look at how brilliant and not-so-brilliant thinkers see—usually wrongly but with occasional prescience—the increasingly intimate melding of machines and humans … suberbly recounted”
Kirkus Reviews (starred), issue 15 May 2016

Reviewed in Booklist, c’t Magazin, EsquireFinancial TimesFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, FAZ HochschulanzeigerDer Freitag, The Guardian/The ObserverKirkus, Nature, Neue Zürcher ZeitungNew Scientist, The New York Times, Prospect MagazineScientific American, The SpectatorSpektrum der WissenschaftDer StandardSüddeutsche Zeitung, tageszeitung, Technology Review (Germany), Universum, Wall Street JournalWar on the Rocks, Zeit; ABC (Australia), Bayrischer Rundfunk, Deutschlandfunk, Deutschlandradio Kultur, NPR Marketplace, WDR, 3sat.

Cryptopolitik and the Darknet

“Cryptopolitik and the Darknet,” with Daniel Moore, Survival, 2016, February/March, vol 57, iss 1, 7–38, DOI 10.1080/00396338.2016.1142085

Encryption policy is becoming a crucial test of the values of liberal democracy in the twenty-first century. The trigger is a dilemma: the power of ciphers protects citizens when they read, bank and shop online — and the power of ciphers protects foreign spies, terrorists and criminals when they pry, plot and steal. Encryption bears directly on today’s two top threats, militant extremism and computer-network breaches — yet it enables prosperity and privacy. Should the state limit and regulate the fast-growing use of cryptography? If so, how?

[…] Crypto systems are not politically neutral; they embody political choices. In some cases, the costs incurred by establishing a specific cryptographically enabled service may outweigh the benefits. We test and establish this argument by critically assessing one of the most sophisticated and controversial encryption platforms today: the Tor Project. If there is a line that demarcates liberal from illiberal cryptographic architectures, it runs right through Tor. To be more precise, it runs right through hidden services.

Read more

Technical annex and discussion on Tor Hidden Services (requires Tor Browser) at http://35oktenzdrt2v4o5.onion

On Altmetric

Launched at IISS on 3 February.

Covered in Motherboard, TelegraphSüddeutsche Zeitung, Tecmundo, Fars, BBC Newsday, Naked Security, Schneier on Security, BBC 5 Live, BBC World Service, Sky News, Die Zeit, Herald Sun, The Telegraph (Australia), Quartz, Nextgov, more