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Mars and the Mind of Man

September 5, 2012

mars_and_the_mind_of_man

Author:
Carl Sagan
Publisher:
Harper & Row (1973)

On November 12, 1971, the day before NASA’s Mariner 9 mission reached Mars and became the first spacecraft to orbit another planet, Caltech Planetary Science professor Bruce Murray summoned a formidable panel of thinkers to discuss the implications of the historic event. Murray himself was to join the great Carl Sagan and science fiction icons Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke in a conversation moderated by Newread more

Neuromancer

July 29, 2012

361px-Neuromancer_(Book)

Author:
William Gibson
Publisher:
Ace (1986)

The Matrix is a world within the world, a global consensus- hallucination, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace…

Case had been the sharpest data-thief in the business, until vengeful former employees crippled his nervous system. But now a new and very mysterious employer recruits him for a last-chance run. The target: an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence orbiting Earth in service of the sinister Tessier-Ashpool business clan. With… read more

Ultimate Zero and One: Computing at the Quantum Frontier

May 24, 2012

ultimatezeroandone

Author:
Colin P. Williams, Scott H. Clearwater
Publisher:
Springer (1999)

Amazon | As miniaturisation deepens, and nanotechnology and its machines become more prevalent in the real world, the need to consider using quantum mechanical concepts to perform various tasks in computation increases. Such tasks include: the teleporting of information, breaking heretofore “unbreakable” codes, communicating with messages that betray eavesdropping, and the generation of random numbers. This is the first book to apply quantum physics to the basic operations of a… read more

I Am a Strange Loop

May 4, 2011

I am a Strange Loop book cover

Author:
Douglas R. Hofstadter
Publisher:
Basic Books (2008)

Amazon | Can thought arise out of matter? Can self, soul, consciousness, “I” arise out of mere matter? If it cannot, then how can you or I be here?

I Am a Strange Loop argues that the key to understanding selves and consciousness is the “strange loop” — a special kind of abstract feedback loop inhabiting our brains. The most central and complex symbol in your brain is… read more

Atlas Shrugged

April 21, 2011

Atlas Shrugged

Author:
Ayn Rand
Publisher:
Plume (1999)

Amazon | Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was Ayn Rand’s greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatizes her unique philosophy through an intellectual mystery story that integrates ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics, and sex.

Set in a near-future U.S.A. whose economy is collapsing as a result of the mysterious disappearance of leading innovators and industrialists, this novel presents an astounding panorama… read more

Prey

March 16, 2011

Prey book cover

Author:
Michael Crichton
Publisher:
Harper (2008)

Amazon | In the Nevada desert, an experiment has gone horribly wrong. A cloud of nanoparticles — micro-robots — has escaped from the laboratory. This cloud is self-sustaining and self-reproducing. It is intelligent and learns from experience. For all practical purposes, it is alive.

It has been programmed as a predator. It is evolving swiftly, becoming more deadly with each passing hour.

Every attempt to destroy it has… read more

The Artilect War: Cosmists Vs. Terrans

December 15, 2010

Theartilectwar

Author:
Hugo de Garis
Publisher:
ETC Publications (2005)

Amazon |  This book’s main idea is that this century’s global politics will be dominated by the “species dominance” issue.  21st century technologies will enable the building of artilects (artificial intellects, artificial intelligences, massively intelligent machines) with 1040 components, using reversible, heatless, 3D, molecular scale, self assembling, one bit per atom, nano-teched, quantum computers, which may dwarf human intelligence levels by a factor of trillions of trillions… read more

The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?

July 16, 2010

The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?

Author:
David Brin
Publisher:
Basic Books (1999)

Amazon | Science fiction writer Brin (The Uplift War) departs from technological fantasy to focus on the social and political ramifications of our information age.

While addressing the technology-vs.-privacy debate, he offers an informed overview of the issues and a useful historical account of how current policies evolved. Also beneficial are his descriptions of the different viewpoints on encryption software, online anonymity, the Clipper Chip and… read more

Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence

July 16, 2010

Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence

Author:
Hans Moravec
Publisher:
Harvard University Press (1990)

Erin Rhodes | What happens to memory and experience when it becomes a commodity? Can the mind really be freed from the physicality of the brain – and of the body? Wouldn’t multiple versions or copies of ourselves, and the prospect of immortality, cheapen the uniqueness of being human? Are consciousness, emotion, and intelligence particular only to humans (and perhaps other living things), or can they be instilled into… read more

Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age

July 16, 2010

Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age

Author:
Bill McKibben
Publisher:
St. Martin's Griffin (2004)

Amazon | In 1989, McKibben published The End of Nature, a gorgeously written and galvanizing book about the true cost of global warming, the destruction of the ozone layer and other man-made ills-the loss of wild nature and with it the priceless aspect of our humanity that evolved to listen to and heed it. Now McKibben applies the same passion, scholarship and free-ranging thought to a subject that even… read more

Soft Machines: Nanotechnology and Life

July 16, 2010

Soft Machines: Nanotechnology and Life

Author:
Richard A. L. Jones
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA (2008)

Amazon | Enthusiasts look forward to a time when tiny machines reassemble matter and process information with unparalleled power and precision. But is their vision realistic? Where is the science heading? As nanotechnology (a new technology that many believe will transform society in the next on hundred years) rises higher in the news agenda and popular consciousness, there is a real need for a book which discusses clearly the… read more

Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future

July 16, 2010

Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future

Author:
James Hughes
Publisher:
Unknown (2004)

Amazon | In the next fifty years, life spans will extend well beyond a century. Our senses and cognition will be enhanced. We will have greater control over our emotions and memory. Our bodies and brains will be surrounded by and merged with computer power. The limits of the human body will be transcended as technologies such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering converge and accelerate. With them,… read more

Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution

July 16, 2010

Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution

Author:
Francis Fukuyama
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2002)

Amazon | Fukuyama (The End of History and the Last Man; Trust) is no stranger to controversial theses, and here he advances two: that there are sound nonreligious reasons to put limits on biotechnology, and that such limits can be enforced. Fukuyama argues that “the most significant threat” from biotechnology is “the possibility that it will alter human nature and thereby move us into a ‘posthuman’ stage of history.”… read more

Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind

July 16, 2010

Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind

Author:
Hans Moravec
Publisher:
Oxford University Press (2000)

Amazon | Here come the free-roaming robot vacuum cleaners, self-driving cars, robot chess champions, robots that fly and swim. If these machine intelligences already tooling around or on the drawing boards leave you blasé, consider this: Robotics pioneer Moravec predicts that if the present exponential growth rate of computing power continues, super-robots that perceive, intuit, adapt, think and even simulate feelings much like human beings will be buildable before… read more

The Spike: How Our Lives Are Being Transformed By Rapidly Advancing Technologies

July 16, 2010

The Spike: How Our Lives Are Being Transformed By Rapidly Advancing Technologies

Author:
Damien Broderick
Publisher:
Tor Books (2001)

Amazon | Is technological change advancing so rapidly that we can no longer chart its progress? Are we careening ever closer to the point that scientists have dubbed “the singularity,” the moment when the pace of innovation will lead to changes so profound that attempting to envision the future becomes an impossible dream? According to Broderick (The Last Mortal Generation; Theory and Its Discontents), the answer is a resounding… read more

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