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Category Archives: Recommended Books

Exponential, book review: Technology acceleration and its impact on society

ZDNet: “An “exponential gap” is opening up between our understanding of our world, which updates slowly, and new technologies, which change faster than we can cope with, argues Azeem Azhar… The exponential growth of computer power led the inventor Ray Kurzweil to propose the Law of Accelerating Returns and predict that by 2045 machine intelligence will pass that of humans — a.k.a. the Singularity.  In Exponential: How Accelerating Technology is Leaving Us Behind and What to Do About It, Azeem Azhar begins with the perception that Kurzweil’s take was too narrow and that exponential growth is taking place in no less than four converging sectors: computing, energy, biology, and manufacturing.  In energy, the cost of renewables is plummeting. In biology, the cost of genome sequencing is doing the same. The first human genome took 13 years and $3 billion; today anyone can get theirs done for $200 in a few days and fast sequencing was part of why we got covid vaccines so soon. In manufacturing, 3D printing is rapidly improving, and offers entirely new possibilities for creating everything from buildings to organs.  Taken together, the world we’re hurtling into will look quite different. Azhar credits Kurzweil for recognising that the biggest contributor to our perception that it’s ‘accelerating’ is the parallel development and interaction of different technologies. The result, Azhar writes, is an “exponential gap” that’s opening up between our understanding of our world, which updates slowly, and the arriving technologies, which change faster than we can cope with.  In this book, and in the Exponential View podcast and newsletter that preceded it, Azhar, who has been a journalist, a multiple company founder, and a venture capitalist, says he wants to straddle CP Snow’s Two Cultures — art and science — in order to understand the impact of all these new technologies on society…”

This book explains actually helpful actions you can take to fight climate change

Fast Company: “In a new book, Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, and a website called Regeneration, Paul Hawken lays out solutions. The book is a sequel to Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, which looked at how existing technologies and approaches could be used to achieve “drawdown,”… Continue Reading

BOOK TALK: If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future

Virtual Book Talk – Wednesday, October 6, 2021 – 7:00pm to 8:00pm – Registration Requested: “The Simulmatics Corporation, launched during the Cold War, mined data, targeted voters, manipulated consumers, destabilized politics, and disordered knowledge―decades before Facebook, Google, and Cambridge Analytica. Jill Lepore, best-selling author of These Truths, came across the company’s papers in MIT’s archives… Continue Reading

They Knew: How the U.S. Government Helped Cause the Climate Crisis

Yale Environment 360 – “James Gustave Speth has been calling for action on climate since serving in the White House in the 1970s. In an e360 interview, he talks about his new book, which chronicles how successive U.S. administrations repeatedly failed to act in response to scientists’ increasingly dire warnings. Few people have followed the… Continue Reading

Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

“Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (OVER) is an impressive piece of art crystallizing the ecological and social tragedies of humanity’s ballooning numbers and consumption. Filled with powerful and evocative images, OVER addresses the many challenges caused by human population size (7.3 billion) and growth (1.5 million people every week). OVER was created as the centerpiece of the… Continue Reading

Don’t stick a fork in books yet

Teleread, Felix Pleşoianu: “I just came across an excellent write-up called How to Fork a Book: The Radical Transformation of Publishing. “Forking” is a term borrowed from open source software, whose license allows anyone to make their own modified versions that diverge from the original, taking it in another direction, like a fork in a… Continue Reading

Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America

The New York Review – “Pedestrian fatalities are rising dramatically in the US, and Angie Schmitt’s Right of Way gives a rare look at why and what might be done about it….On America’s streets, such reconsideration is sorely overdue. There is no illustration of this fact starker than our disastrous pedestrian fatality numbers. In 2010,… Continue Reading

A fascinating design history of the filing cabinet

Fast Company Adapted with permission from The Filing Cabinet: A Vertical History of Information by Craig Robertson, published by Minnesota University Press “…The filing cabinet emerged at the same time the skyscraper was becoming a cultural symbol that presented capitalism and modernity as distinctly American projects for the 20th century. As vertical structures, the skyscraper and… Continue Reading

How Does Artificial Intelligence Work?

BuiltIn.com: “Less than a decade after breaking the Nazi encryption machine Enigma and helping the Allied Forces win World War II, mathematician Alan Turing changed history a second time with a simple question: “Can machines think?”  Turing’s paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” (1950), and its subsequent Turing Test, established the fundamental goal and vision of… Continue Reading

When Graphs Are a Matter of Life and Death

The New Yorker: “…In A History of Data Visualization and Graphic Communication (Harvard), Michael Friendly and Howard Wainer, a psychologist and a statistician, argue that visual thinking, by revealing what would otherwise remain invisible, has had a profound effect on the way we approach problems. The book begins with what might be the first statistical… Continue Reading

The Law Student’s Guide to Doing Well and Being Well

George, Shailini, The Law Student’s Guide to Doing Well and Being Well (May 2021). Carolina Academic Press, Forthcoming May 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3834474 – “The ABA and most state bar associations have identified a wellness crisis in the legal profession, and called for educating students on how to better cope with the challenges of… Continue Reading