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The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It

July 14, 2010

The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It

Author:
Joshua Cooper Ramo
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company (2009)

Amazon | Former foreign editor of Time, Ramo pushes the reader into uncomfortable yet exhilarating places with controversial ways of thinking about global challenges (e.g., studying why Hezbollah is the most efficiently run Islamic militant group). His book, which lays bare the flaws in current thinking on everything from American political influence to the economy, is designed to change the physics of the way we think. Analyzing the failure… read more

On Intelligence

July 14, 2010

On Intelligence

Author:
Jeff Hawkins, Sandra Blakeslee
Publisher:
St. Martin's Griffin (2005)

Amazon | Hawkins designed the technical innovations that make handheld computers like the Palm Pilot ubiquitous. But he also has a lifelong passion for the mysteries of the brain, and he’s convinced that artificial intelligence theorists are misguided in focusing on the limits of computational power rather than on the nature of human thought. He “pops the hood” of the neocortex and carefully articulates a theory of consciousness and… read more

Our Final Hour: A Scientist’s Warning

July 14, 2010

Our Final Hour: A Scientist's Warning

Author:
Martin Rees
Publisher:
Basic Books (2004)

Amazon | Nano-machines stand poised to revolutionize technology and medicine, but what happens if these minuscule beasties break their leash and run amok? Rees, the U.K.’s Astronomer Royal and prolific author (Just Six Numbers; Our Cosmic Habitat), warns that the 21st century may well witness the extinction of mankind, a doomsday more likely to be caused by human error than by a natural catastrophe. Bioterrorists are the most widely… read more

Human Futures: Art in an Age of Uncertainty

July 14, 2010

Human Futures: Art in an Age of Uncertainty

Author:
Andy Miah
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press (2009)

Amazon | This innovative book, inspired by material from FACT’s Human Futures program and informed by an inquiry into the future of humanity, combines scholarly essays, images, interviews, design products, artifacts, and creative writing in order to portray how the culture of technological innovation is made and remade through bioculturally diverse forms of consumption. Human Futures addresses biological developments such as cloning, genetic modification, stem cell research alongside issues… read more

2010 State of the Future

July 15, 2010

2010 State of the Future

Author:
Jerome C. Glenn, Theodore J. Gordon
Publisher:
The Millenium Project (2010)

Millennium Project | This “report card on the future” distills the collective intelligence of over 2,700 leading scientists, futurists, scholars, and policy advisors who work for governments, corporations, non-governmental organizations, universities, and international organizations. The 2010 State of the Future comes in two parts: a 83-page print executive summary and an attached CD containing about 7,000 pages of research behind the print edition and the Millennium Project’s 14… read more

The Spike: How Our Lives Are Being Transformed By Rapidly Advancing Technologies

July 16, 2010

The Spike: How Our Lives Are Being Transformed By Rapidly Advancing Technologies

Author:
Damien Broderick
Publisher:
Tor Books (2001)

Amazon | Is technological change advancing so rapidly that we can no longer chart its progress? Are we careening ever closer to the point that scientists have dubbed “the singularity,” the moment when the pace of innovation will lead to changes so profound that attempting to envision the future becomes an impossible dream? According to Broderick (The Last Mortal Generation; Theory and Its Discontents), the answer is a resounding… read more

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

Annihilation from Within: The Ultimate Threat to Nations

July 16, 2010

Annihilation from Within: The Ultimate Threat to Nations

Author:
Fred Charles Iklé
Publisher:
Columbia University Press (2006)

Powells | In this eloquent and impassioned book, defense expert Fred Iklé predicts a revolution in national security that few strategists have grasped; fewer still are mindful of its historic roots. We are preoccupied with suicide bombers, jihadist terrorists, and rogue nations producing nuclear weapons, but these menaces are merely distant thunder that foretells the gathering storm.

It is the dark side of technological progress that explains this… read more

Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution

July 16, 2010

Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution

Author:
Ronald Bailey
Publisher:
Prometheus Books (2005)

Amazon | A positive, optimistic, and convincing case that the biotechnology revolution will improve our lives and the future of our children. The 21st century will undoubtedly witness unprecedented advances in understanding the mechanisms of the human body and in developing biotechnology. With the mapping of the human genome, the pace of discovery is now on the fast track. By the middle of the century we can expect that… read more

Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution

July 16, 2010

Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution

Author:
Francis Fukuyama
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2002)

Amazon | Fukuyama (The End of History and the Last Man; Trust) is no stranger to controversial theses, and here he advances two: that there are sound nonreligious reasons to put limits on biotechnology, and that such limits can be enforced. Fukuyama argues that “the most significant threat” from biotechnology is “the possibility that it will alter human nature and thereby move us into a ‘posthuman’ stage of history.”… read more

Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future

July 16, 2010

Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future

Author:
James Hughes
Publisher:
Unknown (2004)

Amazon | In the next fifty years, life spans will extend well beyond a century. Our senses and cognition will be enhanced. We will have greater control over our emotions and memory. Our bodies and brains will be surrounded by and merged with computer power. The limits of the human body will be transcended as technologies such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering converge and accelerate. With them,… read more

Soft Machines: Nanotechnology and Life

July 16, 2010

Soft Machines: Nanotechnology and Life

Author:
Richard A. L. Jones
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA (2008)

Amazon | Enthusiasts look forward to a time when tiny machines reassemble matter and process information with unparalleled power and precision. But is their vision realistic? Where is the science heading? As nanotechnology (a new technology that many believe will transform society in the next on hundred years) rises higher in the news agenda and popular consciousness, there is a real need for a book which discusses clearly the… read more

Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age

July 16, 2010

Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age

Author:
Bill McKibben
Publisher:
St. Martin's Griffin (2004)

Amazon | In 1989, McKibben published The End of Nature, a gorgeously written and galvanizing book about the true cost of global warming, the destruction of the ozone layer and other man-made ills-the loss of wild nature and with it the priceless aspect of our humanity that evolved to listen to and heed it. Now McKibben applies the same passion, scholarship and free-ranging thought to a subject that even… read more

More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement

July 16, 2010

More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement

Author:
Ramez Naam
Publisher:
Broadway (2005)

Amazon | Imagine a person severely disabled by a stroke who, with electrodes implanted in his brain, can type on a computer just by thinking of the letters. Or a man, blind for 20 years, driving a car around a parking lot via a camera hard-wired into his brain. Plots for science fiction? No, it’s already happened, according to future technologies expert Naam. In an excellent and comprehensive survey,… read more

The Long Tomorrow: How Advances in Evolutionary Biology Can Help Us Postpone Aging

July 16, 2010

The Long Tomorrow: How Advances in Evolutionary Biology Can Help Us Postpone Aging

Author:
Michael R. Rose
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA (2005)

Amazon | Rose, an authority on gerontology, uses evolutionary biology to frame the problem of aging, contrasting the drive to reproduce in youth with the ability to survive into old age. In short, according to his research, the Victorians were right: sex is death. The evolutionary pressure of reproducing at an early age seems to have the side effect of causing early aging. Rose’s explanation of his theory is… read more

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