bookshelf by year

A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design

September 7, 2015

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author |
Frank Wilczek
year published |
2015

Artists as well as scientists throughout human history have pondered this “beautiful question.” With Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek as your guide, embark on a voyage of related discoveries, from Plato and Pythagoras up to the present. Wilczek’s groundbreaking work in quantum physics was inspired by his intuition to look for a deeper order of beauty in nature. In fact, every major advance in his career came from this intuition: to assume that the universe embodies beautiful forms, forms whose… read more

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

April 9, 2009

The Singularity Is Near cover

author |
Ray Kurzweil
year published |
2005

At the onset of the 21 century, humanity stands on the verge of the most transforming and the most thrilling period in its history. It will be an era in which the very nature of what it means to be human will be both enriched and challenged, as our species breaks the shackles of its genetic legacy and achieves inconceivable heights of intelligence, material progress, and longevity.

For over… read more

Power, Madness and Immortality

April 12, 2009

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author |
Mychilo Cline
year published |
2005

There has been increasing interest in the potential social impact of new technologies, such as virtual reality (as may be seen in utopian literature, within the social sciences, and in popular culture). Mychilo S. Cline, in his book, Power, Madness, and Immortality: The Future of Virtual Reality, argues that virtual reality will lead to a number of important changes in human life and activity. He argues that:

*… read more

Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet

July 14, 2010

Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet

author |
Joseph Menn
year published |
2010

Amazon | In this disquieting cyber thriller, Joseph Menn takes readers into the murky hacker underground, traveling the globe from San Francisco to Costa Rica and London to Russia. His guides are California surfer and computer whiz Barrett Lyon and a fearless British high-tech agent. Through these heroes, Menn shows the evolution of cyber-crime from small-time thieving to sophisticated, organized gangs, who began by attacking corporate websites but increasingly… read more

Mirroring People: The New Science of How We Connect with Others

July 20, 2010

Mirroring People: The New Science of How We Connect with Others

author |
Marco Iacoboni
year published |
2008

How do we know what others are thinking and feeling? Why do we weep at movies? UCLA neuroscientist Iacoboni introduces readers to the world of mirror neurons and what they imply about human empathy, which, the author says, underlies morality. Mirror neurons allow us to interpret facial expressions of pain or joy and respond appropriately. Thanks to these neurons, Iacoboni writes, [w]e have empathy for… fictional characters—we know how… read more

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

December 14, 2010

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author |
Sherry Turkle
year published |
2011

Amazon | Consider Facebook — it’s human contact, only easier to engage with and easier to avoid. Developing technology promises closeness. Sometimes it delivers, but much of our modern life leaves us less connected with people and more connected to simulations of them.

In Alone Together, MIT technology and society professor Sherry Turkle explores the power of our new tools and toys to dramatically alter our social lives.… read more

Robot Building for Dummies

February 7, 2011

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author |
Roger Arrick, Nancy Stevenson
year published |
2003

Discover what robots can do and how they work. Find out how to build your own robot and program it to perform tasks with Robot Building for Dummies. Learn to build robots the “Dummies” way with explanations in plain English, icons and other navigational aids, tear-out cheat sheet, top ten lists, and a dash of humor and fun. The book walks you through building your very own… read more

The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution

March 28, 2011

The Origins of Order book cover

author |
Stuart Kauffman
year published |
1993

Amazon | Stuart Kauffman here presents a brilliant new paradigm for evolutionary biology, one that extends the basic concepts of Darwinian evolution to accommodate recent findings and perspectives from the fields of biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics.

The book drives to the heart of the exciting debate on the origins of life and maintenance of order in complex biological systems. It focuses on the concept of… read more

A Planet of Viruses

May 11, 2011

A Planet of Viruses book cover

author |
Carl Zimmer
year published |
2011

Amazon | Viruses are the smallest living things known to science, and yet they hold the entire planet in their sway. We’re most familiar with the viruses that give us colds or the flu, but viruses also cause a vast range of other diseases, including one disorder that makes people sprout branch-like growths as if they were trees. Viruses have been a part of our lives for… read more

On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not

February 24, 2012

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author |
Robert Burton
year published |
2009

You recognize when you know something for certain, right? You “know” the sky is blue, or that the traffic light had turned green, or where you were on the morning of September 11, 2001 — you know these things, well, because you just do.

In On Being Certain, neurologist Robert Burton shows that feeling certain — feeling that we know something — is a mental sensation, rather than evidence of… read more

The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind

January 18, 2008

The Emotion Machine

author |
Marvin Minsky
year published |
2007

In this mind-expanding book, scientific pioneer Marvin Minsky continues his groundbreaking research, offering a fascinating new model for how our minds work. He argues persuasively that emotions, intuitions, and feelings are not distinct things, but different ways of thinking.

By examining these different forms of mind activity, Minsky says, we can explain why our thought sometimes takes the form of carefully reasoned analysis and at other times turns… read more

Mechanisms of Memory, Second Edition

October 28, 2012

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author |
J. David Sweatt
year published |
2009

Many who work on the cellular and molecular processes of learning and memory are tempted to throw up their hands in frustration and conclude that the problem is insoluble. Human learning and memory is likely the most highly evolved and sophisticated biological process in existence. This book represents the first step at beginning to put together the complex puzzle of the molecular basis of memory. Sweatt creates a framework… read more

Pardon the Disruption: The Future You Never Saw Coming

December 18, 2013

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author |
Clayton R. Rawlings, James Randall Smith, Rob Bencini
year published |
2013

Pardon The Disruption high-lights the exponential advances in technology that have disrupted the legal system and the economy over time – but those changes will pale in comparison to what is about to occur! The book is written in two parts: the first part discusses the effect – past and projected future – on the legal system; the second part, on the economy. The two come together in a conclusive… read more

Saving Juno (The Juno Trilogy)

March 10, 2014

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author |
Larry Kilham
year published |
2014

NSA’s major computer center is being taken over by an international plot to control the world. Juno, the AI supercomputer revered by the free world is endangered, and Dr. Tom Renwick, Juno’s developer and handler, is kidnapped. Civilization as we know it is threatened. What to do?

In this fast-paced thriller, Tom’s super brain computer scientist son, Primo, is thrown into the fray. With a mysterious agent, Wildflower,… read more

Designing Sociable Robots (Intelligent Robotics and Autonomous Agents series)

February 16, 2004

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author |
Cynthia Breazeal
year published |
2004

Cynthia Breazeal here presents her vision of the sociable robot of the future, a synthetic creature and not merely a sophisticated tool. A sociable robot will be able to understand us, to communicate and interact with us, to learn from us and grow with us. It will be socially intelligent in a humanlike way. Eventually sociable robots will assist us in our daily lives, as collaborators and companions. Because… read more

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