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Global Catastrophic Risks

April 9, 2009

global catastrophic risks

Author:
Martin Rees
Publisher:
Oxford University Press (2008)

A global catastrophic risk is one with the potential to wreak death and destruction on a global scale. In human history, wars and plagues have done so on more than one occasion, and misguided ideologies and totalitarian regimes have darkened an entire era or a region. Advances in technology are adding dangers of a new kind. It could happen again.

In Global Catastrophic Risks, 26 leading experts look at… read more

ID: The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century

July 14, 2010

ID: The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century

Author:
Susan Greenfield
Publisher:
Sceptre (2009)

Amazon | If you’ve ever wondered what effect video games have on your children’s minds or worried about how much private information the government and big companies know about you, ID is essential reading. Professor Susan Greenfield argues persuasively that our individuality is under the microscope as never before; now more then ever we urgently need to look at what we want for ourselves as individuals and for our… read more

Last Flesh: Life in the Transhuman Era

July 16, 2010

Last Flesh: Life in the Transhuman Era

Author:
Christopher Dewdney
Publisher:
HarperCollins Canada (1998)

Media Studies | Last Flesh has a decidedly optimistic tone, reminiscent of McLuhan’s catholic embrace of human creativity and ingenuity. Like McLuhan, Dewdney harbours the poet’s desire for sublime transcendence, and the evolution of human capacity.  As a poet, Dewdney has always been at home in the material world of science; in fact, much of his poetry attempts to integrate the documentary impulses of the sciences with the imaginative… read more

Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century

November 30, 2010

PortraitsMind_cover

Author:
Carl Schoonover
Publisher:
Abrams (2010)

Amazon | Portraits of the Mind follows the fascinating history of our exploration of the brain through images, from medieval sketches and 19th-century drawings by the founder of modern neuroscience to images produced using state-of-the-art techniques, allowing us to see the fantastic networks in the brain as never before. These black-and-white and vibrantly colored images, many resembling abstract art, are employed daily by scientists around the world,… read more

Robotics Demystified

February 7, 2011

Robotics_demystified_a

Author:
Edwin Wise
Publisher:
McGraw-Hill Professional (2004)

This is a self-teaching guide approach to introductory robotics, guiding readers through the essential electronics, mechanics, and programming skills necessary to build their first robot.  Each lesson in robotics is presented step by step with exercises to reinforce the ideas of each lesson. Topics include essential electronics, mechanics, and programming concepts, mobile, industrial, and research ‘bots, and how to make robots sense and think.

The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death

May 9, 2011

Immortalization Commission book Cover

Author:
John Gray
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2011)

Amazon | At the heart of human experience lies an obsession with the nature of death. Religion, for most of history, has provided an explanation for human life and a vision of what comes after it. But in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such beliefs came under relentless pressure as new ideas — from psychiatry to evolution to communism — seemed to suggest that our fate was… read more

The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life

July 6, 2011

The Book of Secrets cover

Author:
Deepak Chopra
Publisher:
Three Rivers Press (2005)

Amazon | Every life is a book of secrets, ready to be opened. The secret of perfect love is found there, along with the secrets of healing, compassion, faith, and the most elusive one of all: who we really are. We are still mysteries to ourselves, despite the proximity of these answers, and what we most long to know remains lodged deep inside.

We all want… 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

The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present

March 19, 2012

theageofinsight

Author:
Eric R. Kandel
Publisher:
Random House (2012)

A brilliant book by Nobel Prize winner Eric R. Kandel, The Age of Insight takes us to Vienna 1900, where leaders in science, medicine, and art began a revolution that changed forever how we think about the human mind — our conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions—and how mind and brain relate to art.

At the turn of the century, Vienna was the cultural capital of Europe. Artists and… read more

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

November 13, 2012

How to Create a Mind cover

Author:
Ray Kurzweil
Publisher:
Viking (2012)

The bold futurist and bestselling author explores the limitless potential of reverse-engineering the human brain.

Ray Kurzweil is arguably today’s most influential, and often controversial, futurist.

In How to Create a Mind, Kurzweil presents a provocative exploration of the most important project in human-machine civilization — reverse engineering the brain to understand precisely how it works and using that knowledge to create even more intelligent machines.

Kurzweil… read more

Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Learn to Program By Making Cool Games

January 31, 2013

super_scratch_programming_adventure

Author:
The LEAD Project
Publisher:
No Starch Press (2012)

Scratch is the wildly popular educational programming language used by millions of first-time learners in classrooms, libraries, and homes worldwide. By dragging together colorful blocks of code, kids quickly learn computer programming concepts and make cool games and animations.

In Super Scratch Programming Adventure!, kids learn programming fundamentals as they make their very own playable video games. They’ll create projects inspired by classic arcade games that can be programmed… read more

Beyond AI: Creating the Conscience of the Machine

April 9, 2009

Beyond AI

Author:
J. Storrs Hall

Artificial intelligence (AI) is now advancing at such a rapid clip that it has the potential to transform our world in ways both exciting and disturbing. Computers have already been designed that are capable of driving cars, playing soccer, and finding and organizing information on the Web in ways that no human could. With each new gain in processing power, will scientists soon be able to create supercomputers that… read more

The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs

December 28, 2009

The Department of Mad Scientists

Author:
Michael Belfiore
Publisher:
Smithsonian (2009)

Wireless, prosthetic arms that are as nimble and light as the real thing; driverless robot cars that work their way through real traffic; a portable robotic emergency room with remote-controlled, mobile robotic surgeons; and scramjets able to race around the world in just a few hours  — these are among the DARPA projects profiled by journalist Michael Belfiore in his book, The Department of Mad Scientists.

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

Beyond Humanity?: The Ethics of Biomedical Enhancement

January 5, 2011

beyond humanity

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

Amazon | Biotechnologies already on the horizon will enable us to be smarter, have better memories, be stronger and quicker, have more stamina, live longer, be more resistant to diseases, and enjoy richer emotional lives. To some of us, these prospects are heartening; to others, they are dreadful. In Beyond Humanity a leading philosopher offers a powerful and controversial exploration of urgent ethical issues concerning human enhancement.… read more

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