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Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities

April 1, 2014

1940689007.01.S001.LXXXXXXX

Author:
Kevin Kelly
Publisher:
Cool Tools Lab (2013)

Cool Tools is a highly curated selection of the best tools available for individuals and small groups. Tools include hand tools, maps, how-to books, vehicles, software, specialized devices, gizmos, websites — and anything useful. Tools are selected and presented in the book if they are the best of kind, the cheapest, or the only thing available that will do the job. This is an oversized book which reviews over… read more

On Intelligence

July 14, 2010

On Intelligence

Author:
Jeff Hawkins, Sandra Blakeslee
Publisher:
St. Martin's Griffin (2005)

Amazon | Hawkins designed the technical innovations that make handheld computers like the Palm Pilot ubiquitous. But he also has a lifelong passion for the mysteries of the brain, and he’s convinced that artificial intelligence theorists are misguided in focusing on the limits of computational power rather than on the nature of human thought. He “pops the hood” of the neocortex and carefully articulates a theory of consciousness and… read more

The Lifecycle of Software Objects

August 3, 2010

Lifecycle of Software Objects

Author:
Ted Chiang
Publisher:
Subterranean (2010)

Amazon | Is science fiction a literature of ideas, or of characters? Works that focus on the former often neglect the latter, and vice versa. It’s very difficult to examine complex abstractions and simultaneously articulate the mechanisms of fiction: most writers who attempt this balancing act end up throttling back on the ideas, or fail sideways into technical writing. So Chiang’s novella–the second piece he’s ever published that’s long… read more

Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age

December 16, 2010

program-programmed

Author:
Douglas Rushkoff
Publisher:
OR Books (2010)

Amazon | Today’s leading media theorist offers everyone a practical yet mind-blowing guide to our digital world. The debate over whether the Net is good or bad for us fills the airwaves and the blogosphere. But for all the heat of claim and counter-claim, the argument is essentially beside the point: it’s here; it’s everywhere. The real question is, do we direct technology, or do we let… read more

Sizing Up the Universe: The Cosmos in Perspective

February 8, 2011

Sizing Up the Universe

Author:
J. Richard Gott, Robert J. Vanderbei
Publisher:
National Geographic (2010)

Amazon | Sizing Up the Universe reveals an ingenious new way to envision the outsize proportions of space, based on the work of Princeton University professors Richard Gott and Robert Vanderbei. Using scaled maps, object comparisons, and beautiful space photographs, it demonstrates the actual size of objects in the cosmos — from Buz Aldrin’s historic footprint to the visible universe and beyond. The authors offer visual comparisons with… read more

Postsingular

May 17, 2011

Postsingular

Author:
Rudy Rucker
Publisher:
Tor Books (2009)

Booklist | Always willing and able to embrace sf’s trendiest themes, Rucker here takes on the volatile field of nanotechnology and the presumed inevitable “Singularity” of human and computer unification.

In a series of interrelated vignettes, he describes the calamity that befalls nanotech inventor Ond Lutter and his would-be benefactors when Ond unleashes a variety of self-replicating nanobots. In one episode, trillions of microscopic bots, dubbed… read more

100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith

July 14, 2011

100 Plus book cover

Author:
Sonia Arrison
Publisher:
Basic Books (2011)

Amazon | Humanity is on the cusp of an exciting longevity revolution. The first person to live to 150 years has probably already been born.

What will your life look like when you live to be over 100? Will you be healthy? Will your marriage need a sunset clause? How long will you have to work? Will you finish one career at sixty-five only to go… read more

Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter

December 14, 2011

incompletenature

Author:
Terrence W. Deacon
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company (2011)

Amazon | As physicists work toward completing a theory of the universe and biologists unravel the molecular complexity of life, a glaring incompleteness in this scientific vision becomes apparent. The “Theory of Everything” that appears to be emerging includes everything but us: the feelings, meanings, consciousness, and purposes that make us (and many of our animal cousins) what we are. These most immediate and incontrovertible phenomena are left… read more

Culturing Life: How Cells Became Technologies

March 27, 2012

culturinglife

Author:
Hannah Landecker
Publisher:
Harvard University Press (2007)

Amazon | How did cells make the journey, one we take so much for granted, from their origin in living bodies to something that can be grown and manipulated on artificial media in the laboratory, a substantial biomass living outside a human body, plant, or animal? This is the question at the heart of Hannah Landecker’s book. She shows how cell culture changed the way we think about such central… read more

Moonrush: Improving Life on Earth with the Moon’s Resources: Apogee Books Space Series 43

February 10, 2013

Moonrush

Author:
Dennis Wingo
Publisher:
Collector's Guide Publishing, Inc. (2004)

This forward-thinking book examines how the exploration of space may eventually transform the global economy.

Recently, the World Wildlife Federation declared that it would take the equivalent of two more Earth’s to sustain our planetary population at the level of affluence that the western world enjoys. Today we live in a world of six billion people who are gobbling up our planet’s resources at a tremendous and accelerating… read more

Upload

May 20, 2013

Upload

Author:
Mark McClelland
Publisher:
lulu.com (2012)

His criminal past catching up with him, a troubled young man seeks escape into digital utopia by uploading his consciousness into a computer — just as his first love casts his life in a new light. In this thrilling near-future science-fiction novel, Mark McClelland explores the immense potential of computer-based consciousness and the philosophical perils of simulated society.

Kindle version also available at this link

Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking

August 5, 2013

Dennett-Intuition pumps

Author:
Daniel Dennett
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company (2013)

One of the world’s leading philosophers offers aspiring thinkers his personal trove of mind-stretching thought experiments.

Over a storied career, Daniel C. Dennett has engaged questions about science and the workings of the mind. His answers have combined rigorous argument with strong empirical grounding. And a lot of fun.

Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking offers 77 of Dennett’s most successful “imagination-extenders and focus-holders” meant to guide… read more

The Society of Mind

January 21, 2014

The-Society-of-Mind2

Author:
Marvin Minsky
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster (1987)

Marvin Minsky — one of the fathers of computer science and cofounder of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT — gives a revolutionary answer to the age-old question: “How does the mind work?”

Minsky brilliantly portrays the mind as a “society” of tiny components that are themselves mindless. Mirroring his theory, Minsky boldly casts The Society of Mind as an intellectual puzzle whose pieces are assembled along the way. Each… read more

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

April 9, 2009
Author:
Oliver Sacks
Publisher:
Knopf (2007)

Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does—humans are a musical… read more

Breakpoint

February 12, 2010

breakpoint

Author:
Richard A. Clarke
Publisher:
G.P. Putnam's Sons (2007)

Penguin Group | In his fiction debut, The Scorpion’s Gate, Richard A. Clarke, former counterterrorism czar for Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, projected a world in 2010 in which the United States and China were competing politically and economically for a dwindling supply of increasingly expensive oil and gas.  That competition naturally took them to the Persian Gulf where the largest oil deposits remained, where the United States… read more

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