The century of revolution in the United States after the Civil War was economic, not political, freeing households from an unremitting daily grind of painful manual labor, household drudgery, darkness, isolation, and early death. Only one hundred years later, daily life had changed beyond recognition. Manual outdoor jobs were replaced by work in air-conditioned environments, housework was increasingly performed by electric appliances, darkness was replaced by light, and isolation was replaced not just by travel, but also by color television images bringing the world into the living room…. The economic revolution of 1870 to 1970 was unique in human history, unrepeatable because so many of its achievements could happen only once.
A consistent theme of this book is that the major inventions and their subsequent complementary innovations increased the quality of life far more than their contributions to market-produced GDP…. But no improvement matches the welfare benefits of the decline in mortality and increase in life expectancy….
Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an “intelligence explosion,” and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.