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The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

November 26, 2012

The Demon-Haunted World

Author:
Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan
Publisher:
Ballantine Books (1997)

“A glorious book . . . A spirited defense of science . . . From the first page to the last, this book is a manifesto for clear thought.”
*Los Angeles Times

“POWERFUL . . . A stirring defense of informed rationality. . . Rich in surprising information and beautiful writing.”
*The Washington Post Book World

How can we make intelligent decisions about our increasingly technology-driven lives… read more

Kinds of Minds: Toward an Understanding of Consciousness

January 18, 2010
Author:
Daniel Dennett
Publisher:
Basic Books (1997)

Publishers Weekly | Dennett (Darwin’s Dangerous Idea), director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, avers that language is the “slingshot” that has “launched [humans] far beyond all other earthly species in the power to look ahead and reflect.” In this brief study, some of which is drawn from notes for the author’s various lectures, and which returns him to some of the themes of his controversial… read more

Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet

April 9, 2009

sherry_book

Author:
Sherry Turkle
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster (1997)

Life on the Screen is a book not about computers, but about people and how computers are causing us to reevaluate our identities in the age of the Internet. We are using life on the screen to engage in new ways of thinking about evolution, relationships, politics, sex, and the self. Life on the Screen traces a set of boundary negotiations, telling the story of the changing impact of… 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

The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes and Its Implications

September 10, 2010

fabricofreality

Author:
David Deutsch
Publisher:
Penguin (1998)

Amazon | “Our best theories are not only truer than common sense, they make more sense than common sense,” writes physicist David Deutsch. In The Fabric of Reality, Deutsch traces what he considers the four main strands of scientific explanation: quantum theory, evolution, computation, and the theory of knowledge. “The four of them taken together form a coherent explanatory structure that is so far-reaching, and has come to… read more

A Brief History of Time

April 9, 2009
Author:
Stephen William Hawking
Publisher:
Bantam (1998)

Published in 1988, A Brief History of Time, was a landmark volume in science writing and in world-wide acclaim and popularity, with more than 9 million copies in print globally. The original edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the ensuing years have seen extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro- and the macrocosmic… read more

Imagined Worlds (Jerusalem-Harvard Lectures)

February 15, 2013

Imagined worlds

Author:
Freeman Dyson
Publisher:
Harvard University Press (1998)

Imagine a world where whole epochs will pass, cultures rise and fall, between a telephone call and the reply. Think of the human race multiplying 500-million fold, or evolving new, distinct species. Consider the technology of space colonization, computer-assisted reproduction, the “Martian potato.” One hundred years after H. G. Wells visited the future in The Time Machine, Freeman Dyson marshals his uncommon gifts as a scientist and storyteller to take… read more

Neural Networks and Analog Computation: Beyond the Turing Limit

April 9, 2012

neuralnetworksandanalogcomputation

Author:
Hava T. Siegelmann
Publisher:
Birkhäuser Boston (1998)

Amazon | The theoretical foundations of Neural Networks and Analog Computation conceptualize neural networks as a particular type of computer consisting of multiple assemblies of basic processors interconnected in an intricate structure. Examining these networks under various resource constraints reveals a continuum of computational devices, several of which coincide with well-known classical models. On a mathematical level, the treatment of neural computations enriches the theory of computation but also… read more

The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence

September 8, 2009
Author:
Ray Kurzweil
Publisher:
Penguin Books (1999)

Amazon | How much do we humans enjoy our current status as the most intelligent beings on earth? Enough to try to stop our own inventions from surpassing us in smarts? If so, we’d better pull the plug right now, because if Ray Kurzweil is right we’ve only got until about 2020 before computers outpace the human brain in computational power.

Kurzweil, artificial intelligence expert and author… read more

The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?

July 16, 2010

The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?

Author:
David Brin
Publisher:
Basic Books (1999)

Amazon | Science fiction writer Brin (The Uplift War) departs from technological fantasy to focus on the social and political ramifications of our information age.

While addressing the technology-vs.-privacy debate, he offers an informed overview of the issues and a useful historical account of how current policies evolved. Also beneficial are his descriptions of the different viewpoints on encryption software, online anonymity, the Clipper Chip and… read more

Atlas Shrugged

April 21, 2011

Atlas Shrugged

Author:
Ayn Rand
Publisher:
Plume (1999)

Amazon | Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was Ayn Rand’s greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatizes her unique philosophy through an intellectual mystery story that integrates ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics, and sex.

Set in a near-future U.S.A. whose economy is collapsing as a result of the mysterious disappearance of leading innovators and industrialists, this novel presents an astounding panorama… read more

Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind

July 20, 2010

Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind

Author:
V. S. Ramachandran, Sandra Blakeslee, Oliver Sacks
Publisher:
Harper Perennial (1999)

In these unsettling tales from a neuroscientist every bit as quirky as the more famous Oliver Sacks, Ramachandran sets out his beliefs that no matter how bizarre the case, empirical, strikingly simple testing can illuminate the ways brain circuitry establishes “self.” In a chatty, nearly avuncular style, he (along with his coauthor, a New York Times science writer) snatches territory from philosophers on how we think we know what… read more

Ultimate Zero and One: Computing at the Quantum Frontier

May 24, 2012

ultimatezeroandone

Author:
Colin P. Williams, Scott H. Clearwater
Publisher:
Springer (1999)

Amazon | As miniaturisation deepens, and nanotechnology and its machines become more prevalent in the real world, the need to consider using quantum mechanical concepts to perform various tasks in computation increases. Such tasks include: the teleporting of information, breaking heretofore “unbreakable” codes, communicating with messages that betray eavesdropping, and the generation of random numbers. This is the first book to apply quantum physics to the basic operations of a… read more

Immortality: How Science Is Extending Your Life Span and Changing the World

July 16, 2010

Immortality: How Science Is Extending Your Life Span - and Changing The World

Author:
Ben Bova
Publisher:
Harper Perennial (2000)

Amazon | The quest for human immortality is ongoing in science labs around the world, and the possibility is now closer to science fact than fiction, claims Bova, a veteran and prolific author of science books.

Bova admits that few scientists would agree with that claim but that scientists “are usually not the best predictors of their own futures.” Again Bova lives up to his reputation of writing… read more

Seeding the Universe with Life: Securing Our Cosmological Future

July 16, 2010

Seeding the Universe with Life: Securing Our Cosmological Future

Author:
Michael Noah Mautner
Publisher:
Legacy Books (2000)

Amazon | The future of life in the universe is an important subject of astrobiology. In this new popular science title, a well recognized researcher describes how we can seed new solar systems with microbial representatives of our family of organic life. The book also describes a life-centered astroethics that will motivate these missions. It describes the unity of all gene/protein life: a common ancestry, a special place in… read more

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