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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
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (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

Online Worlds: Convergence of the Real and the Virtual (Human-Computer Interaction Series)

July 18, 2010

Online Worlds: Convergence of the Real and the Virtual (Human-Computer Interaction Series)

Author:
William Sims Bainbridge
Publisher:
Springer (2009)

Amazon | Virtual worlds are persistent online computer-generated environments where people can interact, whether for work or play, in a manner comparable to the real world. The most popular current example is World of Warcraft, a massively multiplayer online game with eleven million subscribers. However, other virtual worlds, notably Second Life, are not games at all but internet-based collaboration contexts in which people can create virtual objects, simulated architecture,… 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 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

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

Forever For All: Moral Philosophy, Cryonics, and the Scientific Prospects for Immortality

July 16, 2010

Forever For All: Moral Philosophy, Cryonics, and the Scientific Prospects for Immortality

Author:
R. Michael Perry
Publisher:
Universal Publishers (2000)

Amazon | This book considers the problems of death and the hereafter and how these ages-old problems ought to be addressed in light of our continuing progress. A materialistic viewpoint of reality is assumed, denying the likelihood of supernatural or other superhuman assistance. Death, however, is not seen as inevitable or even irreversible; it is maintained that the problem can and should be addressed scientifically in all of its… 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

Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness

July 16, 2010

Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness

Author:
Roger Penrose
Publisher:
Oxford University Press (1996)

Amazon | A leading critic of artificial intelligence research returns to the attack, attempting to lay the groundwork for an analysis of the true nature of intelligence. Building on his arguments in The Emperor’s New Mind, Penrose (Mathematics/Oxford) begins by refuting the assertion that true intelligence can be attained–or even adequately simulated–by the strictly computational means to which current computers are ultimately limited. Much of his argument depends closely… read more

Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence

July 16, 2010

Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence

Author:
Hans Moravec
Publisher:
Harvard University Press (1990)

Erin Rhodes | What happens to memory and experience when it becomes a commodity? Can the mind really be freed from the physicality of the brain – and of the body? Wouldn’t multiple versions or copies of ourselves, and the prospect of immortality, cheapen the uniqueness of being human? Are consciousness, emotion, and intelligence particular only to humans (and perhaps other living things), or can they be instilled into… read more

Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition: Science Slightly over the Edge

July 16, 2010

Great Mambo Chicken And The Transhuman Condition: Science Slightly Over The Edge

Author:
Ed Regis
Publisher:
Basic Books (1991)

Amazon | Author of the delightful Who Got Einstein’s Office?, Regis here presents a hilarious but nevertheless sympathetic look at practitioners of “fin-de-siecle hubristic mania.”

These are the scientific visionaries who are plotting “post-biological man,” scheming to build giant space colony/stations to orbit around the Earth, use microscopic robots (nanotechnology) to resurrect humans frozen in liquid nitrogen, raise chickens in higher gravity fields and project human minds via… read more

Turning the Future Into Revenue: What Business and Individuals Need to Know to Shape Their Futures

July 16, 2010

Turning the Future Into Revenue: What Business and Individuals Need to Know to Shape Their Futures

Author:
Glen Hiemstra
Publisher:
Wiley (2006)

Amazon | In Turning the Future into Revenue, Glen Hiemstra, founder of Futurist.com and noted expert on emerging business opportunities, explores how our changing world will transform private enterprise and public policy. From shifting demographics to global warming to new energy policies, change is coming. Turning the Future into Revenue shows how these new realities can be turned into profitable new ventures.

Some of the topics Hiemstra discusses… read more

Technology’s Promise: Expert Knowledge on the Transformation of Business and Society

July 16, 2010

Technology's Promise: Expert Knowledge on the Transformation of Business and Society

Author:
William E. Halal
Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan (2008)

Amazon | With the onset of a knowledge economy, modern nations are hard at work using ever more sophisticated information systems to power a “technology revolution” that is transforming our lives. This book is based on the work of the TechCast Project, conducted over the past decade at the George Washington University. Pooling the knowledge of 100 high-tech CEOs, scientists, engineers, academics, consultants, futurists, and other experts from around… read more

Masterminds: Genius, DNA, and the Quest to Rewrite Life

July 16, 2010

Masterminds: Genius, DNA, and the Quest to Rewrite Life

Author:
David Ewing Duncan
Publisher:
Harper Perennial (2006)

Amazon | James Watson, J. Craig Venter, Francis Collins, Cynthia Kenyon . . . you may not know them, but you should. They are the masterminds of genetics and biotechnology who want you to live to be 150 years old, to regenerate your heart and brain, to create synthetic life. For better or worse, they are about to alter life on earth forever.

Award-winning journalist David Ewing Duncan… read more

The Next Big Thing Is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business

July 16, 2010

The Next Big Thing Is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business

Author:
Jack Uldrich
Publisher:
Crown Business (2003)

Amazon | Ever heard of self-cleaning floor tiles and windows? Or mirrors that won’t fog up in the shower? What about army uniforms that can “monitor a soldier’s health, detect and detoxify chemical agents, heat and cool the soldier… and independently generate power so the soldier can remain in constant communication with headquarters”? According to Uldrich, director of the Minnesota Office of Strategic and Long-Range Planning, and nuclear physicist… read more

The Future of Everything: The Science of Prediction

July 16, 2010

The Future of Everything: The Science of Prediction

Author:
David Orrell
Publisher:
Basic Books (2008)

Amazon | In the spirit of Freakonomics and A Short History of Progress, The Future of Everything is a compelling, elegantly written history of our future.

For centuries, scientists have strived to predict the future. But to what extent have they succeeded? Can past events–Hurricane Katrina, the Internet stock bubble, the SARS outbreak–help us understand what will happen next? Will scientists ever really be able to forecast catastrophes,… read more

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