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Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think

January 3, 2012

abundance

Author:
Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler
Publisher:
Free Press (2012)

Amazon | Providing abundance is humanity’s grandest challenge — this is a book about how we rise to meet it. We will soon be able to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman and child on the planet. Abundance for all is within our grasp. This bold, contrarian view, backed up by exhaustive research, introduces our near-term future, where exponentially growing technologies and three other powerful forces… read more

Distrust That Particular Flavor

January 3, 2012

distrust

Author:
William Gibson
Publisher:
Putnam Adult (2012)

Amazon | William Gibson is known primarily as a novelist, with his work ranging from his groundbreaking first novel, Neuromancer, to his more recent contemporary bestsellers Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and Zero History. During those nearly thirty years, though, Gibson has been sought out by widely varying publications for his insights into contemporary culture. Wired magazine sent him to Singapore to report on one of the world’s most buttoned-up states. The New York Timesread more

The Physics of Consciousness: The Quantum Mind and the Meaning of Life

December 28, 2011

physics_of_consciousness

Author:
Evan Harris Walker
Publisher:
Basic Books (2000)

Amazon | For decades, neuroscientists, psychologists, and an army of brain researchers have been struggling, in vain, to explain the phenomenon of consciousness. Now there is a clear trail to the answer, and it leads through the dense jungle of quantum physics, Zen, and subjective experience, and arrives at an unexpected destination. In this tour-de-force of scientific investigation, Evan Harris Walker shows how the operation of bizarre… read more

Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong

December 28, 2011

moral

Author:
Wendell Wallach, Colin Allen
Publisher:
Oxford University Press (2010)

Amazon | Computers are already approving financial transactions, controlling electrical supplies, and driving trains. Soon, service robots will be taking care of the elderly in their homes, and military robots will have their own targeting and firing protocols. Colin Allen and Wendell Wallach argue that as robots take on more and more responsibility, they must be programmed with moral decision-making abilities, for our own safety. Taking a fast… read more

What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite

December 14, 2011

WhatMakesYourBrainHappy

Author:
David DiSalvo
Publisher:
Prometheus Books (2011)

Amazon | Why do we routinely choose options that don’t meet our short-term needs and undermine our long-term goals? Why do we willingly expose ourselves to temptations that undercut our hard-fought progress to overcome addictions? Why are we prone to assigning meaning to statistically common coincidences? Why do we insist we’re right even when evidence contradicts us?

In What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Doread 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

Who’s in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain

December 14, 2011

whosincharge

Author:
Michael S. Gazzaniga
Publisher:
Ecco (2011)

Amazon | The father of cognitive neuroscience and author of Human offers a provocative argument against the common belief that our lives are wholly determined by physical processes and we are therefore not responsible for our actions.

A powerful orthodoxy in the study of the brain has taken hold in recent years: Since physical laws govern the physical world and our own brains are part of that world, physical

read more

Models.Behaving.Badly: Why Confusing Illusion with Reality Can Lead to Disaster, on Wall Street and in Life

December 14, 2011

modelsbehavingbadly

Author:
Emanuel Derman
Publisher:
Free Press (2011)

Amazon | Emanuel Derman was a quantitative analyst (Quant) at Goldman Sachs, one of the financial engineers whose mathematical models became crucial for Wall Street. The reliance investors put on such quantitative analysis was catastrophic for the economy, setting off the ongoing string of financial crises that began with the mortgage market in 2007 and continues through today. Here Derman looks at why people — bankers in particular — still put so much… read more

You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself

December 14, 2011

You-Are-Not-So-Smart-199x300

Author:
David McRaney
Publisher:
Gotham (2011)

Amazon | An entertaining illumination of the stupid beliefs that make us feel wise.

You believe you are a rational, logical being who sees the world as it really is, but journalist David McRaney is here to tell you that you’re as deluded as the rest of us. But that’s OK- delusions keep us sane. You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of self-delusion. It’s like a… read more

Thinking, Fast and Slow

December 14, 2011

thinkingfastandslow

Author:
Daniel Kahneman
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2011)

Amazon | Drawing on decades of research in psychology that resulted in a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, Daniel Kahneman takes readers on an exploration of what influences thought example by example, sometimes with unlikely word pairs like “vomit and banana.” System 1 and System 2, the fast and slow types of thinking, become characters that illustrate the psychology behind things we think we understand but really don’t,… read more

Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World

December 13, 2011

knocking-on-heavens-door-cover

Author:
Lisa Randall
Publisher:
Ecco (2011)

Amazon |  From one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, a rousing defense of the role of science in our lives.

The latest developments in physics have the potential to radically revise our understanding of the world: its makeup, its evolution, and the fundamental forces that drive its operation. Knocking on Heaven’s Door is an exhilarating and accessible overview of these developments and an impassioned argument

read more

Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes Us Who We Are

December 5, 2011

Connectome-Seung-Sebastian-9780547508184

Author:
Sebastian Seung
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2012)

Amazon | The bold and thrilling quest to finally understand the brain — and along with it our mental afflictions, from depression to autism — by a rising star in neuroscience.

Sebastian Seung, a dynamic young professor at MIT, is at the forefront of a revolution in neuroscience. He believes that our identity lies not in our genes, but in the connections between our brain cells… read more

Steve Jobs

October 24, 2011

Steve-Jobs-Book

Author:
Walter Isaacson
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster (2011)

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years — as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues — Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital… read more

Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy

October 24, 2011

machinejump3-popup

Author:
Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee
Publisher:
Digital Frontier Press (2011)

Amazon | Why has median income stopped rising in the US? Why is the share of population that is working falling so rapidly? Why are our economy and society are becoming more unequal?

A popular explanation right now is that the root cause underlying these symptoms is technological stagnation — a slowdown in the kinds of ideas and inventions that bring progress and prosperity.

In Race Against theread more

The Instant Physicist: An Illustrated Guide

October 5, 2011

instantphysicist

Author:
Richard A. Muller
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company (2010)

Amazon | Wine is radioactive? Organic foods have more poison in them than those grown with pesticides? Best-selling author Richard A. Muller enlightens us.

Richard A. Muller demonstrated in his recent bestseller, Physics for Future Presidents, that he has a unique talent for delivering the “aha” moment — making difficult topics accessible. In The Instant Physicist he shows his ability to entertain, too, by presenting the best of the scientific… read more

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