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BOOK REVIEW | Augmented Animals

May 4, 2005

augmented_animals

Source: Wired News — May 3, 2005

James Auger in his controversial new book, Augmented Animals, envisions animals, birds, reptiles and even fish using specially engineered gadgets to help them overcome their evolutionary shortcomings.

He imagines rodents zooming around with night-vision survival goggles, squirrels hoarding nuts using GPS locators and fish armed with metal detectors to avoid the angler’s hook.

BOOK REVIEW | Dark Hero of the Information Age

March 21, 2005

dark_hero

Source: New York Times — Mar 20, 2005 | Clive Thompson

Norbert Wiener, the inventor of cybernetics, is profiled in a new book, Dark Hero of the Information Age, by journalists Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman.

Cybernetics is the science of feedback — how information can help self-regulate a system. That includes everything from biological mechanisms (like the human immune system) to artificial ones, like thermostats that regulate a building’s temperature. Even in the early 20th century, when Wiener… read more

BOOK REVIEW | How to Survive a Robot Uprising

October 31, 2005

how_to_survive_a_robot_uprising

Source: Post-Gazette — October 30, 2005

A guidebook for battling a robot takeover of Earth subtly educates about robots and technology while coming across as humor.

The book was written by roboticist Daniel H. Wilson, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. Paramount has bought movie rights.

What makes the book cool — and unlike some other survival books — is that Wilson is an actual roboticist, who got his Ph.D. from… read more

book review | Memories with Maya

July 30, 2013 by Giulio Prisco

Memories with Maya

What happens when you mix virtual reality, haptic interfaces, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence?

That’s what Clyde deSouza explores in near-future science-fiction novel Memories with Maya.

He introduces the “Wizer,” an augmented-reality, see-through visor driven by AGI (artificial general intelligence) — Google Glass on steroids.

It’s coupled with 3D scans of real environments generated by wall-mounted laser cameras (think next-gen Kinect) to insert remote participants… read more

book review | Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science

December 10, 2007

mind_as_machine

Source: American Scientist — February 2008

In Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science, Margaret A. Boden’s goal, she says, is to show how cognitive scientists have tried to find computational or informational answers to frequently asked questions about the mind — “what it is, what it does, how it works, how it evolved, and how it’s even possible.”

How do our brains generate consciousness? Are animals or newborn babies conscious? Can machines… read more

book review | Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization

August 24, 2013

Radical Abundance

This post is being revised. Please visit Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization meanwhile.

BOOK REVIEW | Radical Evolution

May 23, 2005

radical_evolution

Source: BookReporter — May 2005 | Curtis Edmonds

Joel Garreau’s provocative new book, Radical Evolution, is divided into different scenarios. One that he calls “Heaven” is largely the vision of Ray Kurzweil, one of the founders of modern assistive technology.

Kurzweil imagines a future where the positive aspects of the new technology are available freely to everyone, allowing each of us to customize our own selves to the point where immortality — or complete spiritual freedom… read more

book review | Rainbows End

August 26, 2008

rainbows_end

Source: The New York Times — August 25, 2008 | John Tierney

In Vernor Vinge’s version of Southern California in 2025, there is a school named Fairmont High with the motto, “Trying hard not to become obsolete.” It may not sound inspiring, but to the many fans of Dr. Vinge, this is a most ambitious — and perhaps unattainable — goal for any member of our species.

Dr. Vinge is a mathematician and computer scientist in San Diego whose science fiction… read more

BOOK REVIEW | The Cosmic Landscape

March 12, 2006

cosmic_landscape

Source: Fourmilog: None Dare Call It Reason — March 12, 2006

Leonard Susskind’s new book, The Cosmic Landscape, pits intelligent design against string theory and the megaverse.

Surprisingly, Autodesk founder John Walker sides with intelligent design, but not by a deity — by post-Singularity intelligences creating a reality simulation: “What would we expect to see if we inhabited a simulation? Well, there would probably be a discrete time step and granularity in position fixed by the time and position… read more

book review | The Department of Mad Scientists

January 14, 2010

The Department of Mad Scientists

Source: The New York Times — December 24, 2009 | William Saletan

“The Body Electric” | Two years ago, in his book Rocketeers, Michael Belfiore celebrated the pioneers of the budding private space industry. Now he has returned to explore a frontier closer to home. The heroes of his new book, The Department of Mad Scientists, work for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, a secretive arm of… read more

book review | The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism

November 23, 2009 by Amara D. Angelica

genius of the beast

Multidisciplinary scientist Howard Bloom’s visionary new book, The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism, to be published Tuesday, is an iconoclastic, big-picture view of the transformation of mankind by its machinery.

It rewrites the history of the West, connecting science, technology, emotions, business and society, and proposes a next-generation of capitalism for western civilization — an evolutionary imperative that he suggests can lift us from… read more

book review | The Hidden Brain

January 18, 2010

hidden brain

Source: The New York Times — January 14, 2010 | Susan Pinker

In The Hidden Brain, writer Shankar Vedantam explores the unconscious mind, focusing on covert influences on human behavior. Invisible forces that control our behavior have inspired our best story­tellers, from Euripides to Steven Spielberg. Whether we’re yanked around by jealous gods, Oedipal urges or poltergeists, the idea that we feel powerless to direct our own actions has… read more

BOOK REVIEW | Warped Passages

October 24, 2005

warped_passages

Source: New York Times — Oct 23, 2005

In a new book, Warped Passages, Lisa Randall gives an engaging and remarkably clear account of how the existence of dimensions beyond the familiar three may resolve a host of cosmic quandaries.

Randall argues that without any experimental feedback, string theorists may never reach their goal. She prefers a different strategy, called model building. Rather than seeking to create an all-encompassing theory, she develops models — mini-theories that… read more

book review | Whole Earth Discipline

September 23, 2009

whole earth discipline

Source: Wired — Sep 21, 2009 | Douglas McGray

“Stewart Brand: Save the Slums” | In his new book Whole Earth Discipline, Stewart Brand defends genetic engineering, nuclear power, and other longtime nemeses of the green left as good for the planet.

Some people see a squatter city in Nigeria or India and the desperation overwhelms them: rickety shelters, little kids working or begging, filthy water and air. Stewart Brand sees the same places and he’s encouraged.… read more

book review | Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge

August 8, 2008

year-million

Source: Nature — August 7, 2008

In Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge (edited by Damien Broderick, Atlas, 2008), 15 futurists explore long-range posthuman extraterrestrial futures.

One thread in the book is launch of an expanding wavefront of intelligence, converting matter into nano-engineered computronium that is then assembled into M-brains. These then send out seeds that encode the ability to bootstrap new nano-manufacturing capacity on suitable worlds, where minds… read more

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