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Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance

February 24, 2014

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Author:
Julia Angwin
Publisher:
Times Books (2014)

An inside look at who’s watching you, what they know and why it matters. We are being watched.

We see online ads from websites we’ve visited, long after we’ve moved on to other interests. Our smartphones and cars transmit our location, enabling us to know what’s in the neighborhood but also enabling others to track us. And the federal government, we recently learned, has been conducting a massive… read more

The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30)

February 21, 2014

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Author:
Mark Bauerlein
Publisher:
Tarcher (2008)

For decades, concern has been brewing about the dumbed-down popular culture of young people and the impact it has on their futures.

The dawn of the digital age once aroused our hopes: the Internet, e-mail, blogs, and interactive and ultra-realistic video games promised to yield a generation of sharper, more aware, and intellectually sophisticated children. The terms “information superhighway” and “knowledge economy” entered the lexicon, and we assumed… read more

Things that Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine

February 21, 2014

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Author:
Donald A. Norman
Publisher:
Basic Books (1994)

Amazon | In Things that Make Us Smart, Donald A. Norman explores the complex interaction between human thought and the technology it creates, arguing for the development of machines that fit our minds, rather than minds that must conform to the machine. Humans have always worked with objects to extend our cognitive powers, from counting on our fingers to designing massive supercomputers.

But advanced technology does more than… read more

Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts

February 20, 2014

Consciousness and the Brain Cover

Author:
Stanislas Dehaene
Publisher:
Viking Adult (2014)

A breathtaking look at the new science that can track consciousness deep in the brain

How does our brain generate a conscious thought? And why does so much of our knowledge remain unconscious? Thanks to clever psychological and brain-imaging experiments, scientists are closer to cracking this mystery than ever before.

In this lively book, Stanislas Dehaene describes the pioneering work his lab and the labs of other… read more

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

February 17, 2014

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Author:
Elizabeth Kolbert
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co. (2014)

A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most… read more

Better than Human: The Promise and Perils of Enhancing Ourselves (Philosophy in Action)

February 10, 2014

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Author:
Allen E. Buchanan
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA (2011)

Is it right to use biomedical technologies to make us better than well or even perhaps better than human? Should we view our biology as fixed or should we try to improve on it? College students are already taking cognitive enhancement drugs. The U.S. army is already working to develop drugs and technologies to produce “super soldiers.” Scientists already know how to use genetic engineering techniques to enhance the… read more

Humanity Enhanced: Genetic Choice and the Challenge for Liberal Democracies

January 30, 2014

HumanityEnhanced

Author:
Russell Blackford
Publisher:
The MIT Press (2013)

Emerging biotechnologies that manipulate human genetic material have drawn a chorus of objections from politicians, pundits, and scholars. In Humanity Enhanced, Russell Blackford eschews the heated rhetoric that surrounds genetic enhancement technologies to examine them in the context of liberal thought, discussing the public policy issues they raise from legal and political perspectives.

Some see the possibility of genetic choice as challenging the values of liberal democracy. Blackford… read more

Personality Capture and Emulation

January 22, 2014

Personality-Capture

Author:
William Sims Bainbridge
Publisher:
Springer (2014)

Personality Capture and Emulation is the gateway to an amazing future that actually may be achieved, enabling the preservation and simulation of human personalities at progressively higher levels of fidelity.

This challenge is no longer the province merely of uninhibited visionaries, but has become a solid field of research, drawing upon a wide range of information technologies in human-centered computing and cyber-human systems.

Even at modest levels of… read more

America’s Space Futures: Defining Goals for Space Exploration

January 22, 2014

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Author:
Eric R. Sterner
Publisher:
BookBaby (2013)

America’s Space Futures is an important contribution to the ongoing debate about space policy, the American space program, and the human destiny in space.

It lays out alternative paradigms and frameworks for assessing America’s future in space and how different visions would require changes to America’s current approach to space development and exploration.

Since the end of the Apollo program in the 1970s, the U.S. civil space… read more

The Society of Mind

January 21, 2014

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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

Brain-Computer Interfacing: An Introduction

January 21, 2014

Brain-Computer Interfacing

Author:
Rajesh P. N. Rao
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press (2013)

The idea of interfacing minds with machines has long captured the human imagination. Recent advances in neuroscience and engineering are making this a reality, opening the door to restoring and potentially augmenting human physical and mental capabilities. Medical applications such as cochlear implants for the deaf and deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease are becoming increasingly commonplace. Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) (also known as brain-machine interfaces or BMIs) are now… read more

The Techno-Human Shell: A Jump in the Evolutionary Gap

January 20, 2014

The Techno-Human Shell Cover.

Author:
Joseph Carvalko
Publisher:
Sunbury Press (2013)

Medical technology now verges on incorporating computers with the computational power of the famous Watson IBM computer and Internet-like communications directly into our anatomy.

As the size and complexity of computers spiral downward, the wholesale use of these devices (as well as RFID-type technology) will become as common as a present vaccine. These initiatives will extend lifetimes, keep us younger longer and enhance our intelligence.

Related to… read more

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

January 17, 2014

Amusing Ourselves to Death Cover.

Author:
Neil Postman
Publisher:
Penguin Books (2005)

Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even… read more

The Case for Space Solar Power

January 16, 2014

The Case for Solar Power.

Author:
John Mankins
Publisher:
Amazon Digital Services (2014)

This book makes the Case for Space Solar Power. recounting the history of this fascinating concept and summarizing the many different ways in which it might be accomplished. It describes in detail a highly promising concept – SPS-ALPHA (Solar Power Satellite by means of Arbitrarily Large Phased Array) – and presents a business case comprising applications in space and markets on Earth.

The book explains how it is… read more

We Are Our Brains: A Neurobiography of the Brain, from the Womb to Alzheimer’s

January 13, 2014

We Are Our Brains cover.

Author:
D. F. Swaab, Jane Hedley-Prole
Publisher:
Spiegel & Grau (2014)

A vivid account of what makes us human.

Based groundbreaking new research, We Are Our Brains is a sweeping biography of the human brain, from infancy to adulthood to old age. Renowned neuroscientist D. F. Swaab takes us on a guided tour of the intricate inner workings that determine our potential, our limitations, and our desires, with each chapter serving as an eye-opening window on a different stage of brain… read more

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