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review 2018-06-16 21:11
I Still Dream
I Still Dream - James Smythe

[I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.]

Although I didn’t adore this book, I found it to be an interesting take on artificial intelligence; on what contributes to developing an AI; on the trials and errors involved, and on how the best intentions can be tainted by poor execution, like what happens with SCION. Because, to paraphrase what Laura says about it in the novel, if you teach a child to fight and retaliate, what does it teach them about life and how to react to whatever comes their way?

The story had its ebb and flow, sometimes a little too slow to my liking, but always intriguing. I usually don’t mind when a story jumps from one time period to another, and/or doesn’t always rely on the same narrator, as long as I can follow it. And here, I didn’t have any trouble following, even when the first person narrator didn’t introduce themselves at first (like what happens with Charlie or Cesar). This approach lets the author play with more than just Laura’s take on both Organon and SCION—which was good, since it’s easily apparent that Organon is built upon all that Laura poured into it, and having only Laura’s POV would have felt, to me, slightly… constricting?

My opinion about the plot remains mixed, though, in that the novel seems to hover between being character-driven and being story-driven, while not fully achieving either. I liked the take on developing artificial intelligence—I don’t know much about coding, and I wouldn’t know how to even start about something so huge, and it felt plausible to me. On the other hand, I kept thinking that I wanted the character development part to go a little further than it did, because I felt that there remained some invisible barrier between me and the characters.

This said, I still got to see enough about Laura and the beings (whether the people or the AIs) surrounding her to get a fairly good idea of the characters, too, and of their struggles through life, especially when it came to dementia and similar memory- and recognition-related troubles. So, I definitely wouldn’t say either that the book was a failure in that regard.

Perhaps the one part that really disappointed me was the last chapter, which dragged on making the same point several times. I think it would’ve been more powerful had it been much shorter.

Nevertheless, I would still recommend the book, for the way it puts AI creation and destruction in parallel with the growing up and the decaying of human minds. (Also, listening to ‘Cloudbusting’ while reading it doesn’t hurt.)

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text 2018-06-15 12:00
Friday Reads - June 15, 2018
Wishing Lake (A Finding Home Novel) - Regina Hart
One in a Million - Jill Shalvis
Cafe Au Lait - Liane Spicer
Welcome to Last Chance - Cathleen Armstrong
The Spirit of '76: From Politics to Technology, the Year America Went Rock & Roll (Kindle Single) - David Browne

Today is the first full day of summer vacation for my kids. Don't know how much reading I will be getting done while they are home, but I hope to finish Wishing Lake and at least get started on One in a Million this weekend. Keeping on the contemporary romance track, I hope to get Café Au Lait and Welcome to Last Chance done next week. On the non-fiction side, I want to get The Spirit of '76 read.

 

I am hoping that Storm Hector brings relief from my allergies. Happy reading!

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review 2018-06-07 19:21
Irresistible by Adam Alter
Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked - Adam Alter

This is a pop psych book that has its problems but still has interesting information to offer in an accessible package. I would change the subtitle to “The Rise of Behavioral Addiction in the Digital Age,” which more accurately describes the book’s contents. It is not all about screens – the author discusses exercise addiction frequently – and it is in no way an exposé of the tech industry, as the actual subtitle might lead you to believe. Rather than focusing on how companies suck people into their products, the author is focused on the nature of behavioral addiction itself, how it affects people, and the aspects of technology that most readily create addiction.

The book starts off by discussing behavioral addiction generally, whether it’s an addiction to email, social media, gaming, gambling, or exercise. Like chemical addiction, this is often something that fills a hole in a person’s life, and that the person comes to depend on to feel good (if the addiction is the only thing that causes the person’s brain to produce dopamine anymore) but that ultimately is detrimental to his or her life. The author then moves on to discuss elements that can make technology addictive:

1) Goals: Technology creates goals for us that we might not have formulated on our own, like walking a certain number of steps per day. This is especially true of exercise addictions. One dangerous idea is the Running Streak Association, which celebrates people who have run every day for a period of time (as in years or decades): people who didn’t want to lose their streak have gone so far as to run while the eye of a hurricane was passing over, or while injured or even in the hospital for a C-section.
2) Feedback: Games tell you how you’re doing and how close you are to your goals; when you post on social media or message boards, you can track how many people liked your post.
3) Progress: The author talks about the illusion of near wins and the fear of losing, but it seems to me that the illusion of actually accomplishing something is an especially addictive aspect to games and some social media, particularly for people who feel like they’re just spinning their wheels at work or otherwise.
4) Escalation: This is especially true of games; the game gets harder and you get better at it.
5) Cliffhangers: Discussed in the context of Netflix binges; people don’t like unfinished stories and loose ends. In fact, a story sticks out far more in our memories if we don’t hear the end.
6) Social interaction: Keeps people on social media, and playing social games like World of Warcraft.

All good to be aware of, but the book’s message tends to get a little muddled. The author talks about “the addict in all of us” and how the average office email sits unread in the recipient’s inbox only 6 seconds, but then writes at length about a World of Warcraft addict who played 20 hours a day for 5 weeks straight before committing himself to a detox clinic. Detailing such extreme examples tends to make everyday overuse seem like not such a big deal, and repeatedly returning to the clinic and its methodology throughout the book isn’t especially useful for people whose technology dependence doesn't rise to the level of requiring a residential treatment program. 

Wearable fitness devices are criticized throughout the book for promoting addiction (an exercise addiction psychologist, who unsurprisingly sees the people who are damaged by them, is quoted as saying no one should use wearables ever). Then in the final pages the author acknowledges that a device meant to increase motivation to exercise is likely to be helpful for those who need motivation, though potentially dangerous to those who are already motivated. Given that according to his numbers that 61-67% of Americans, Brits, Germans, Australians and others are overweight, perhaps he shouldn’t have slammed the fitbits quite so hard.

But suddenly in the last chapter gamification is presented as a solution to everything, when the entire preceding book was about why game addiction is bad. Sure, FreeRice promotes learning and donates ad revenue to feed the hungry, but it’s still a virtual game that creates artificial goals and uses progress and escalation to keep people hooked. Suddenly that’s okay if it’s for a good cause? I thought the point was that we were supposed to try to disconnect and focus on more meaningful things? What is the point, exactly? There isn’t a cohesive thesis here so much as a variety of interviews, studies and observations around a general theme.

Still, that doesn’t necessarily make a bad book; it’s informative though lightweight and sometimes confused in its presentation. If nothing else, it will probably make you reflect on the role of technology in your life, which is a good thing to check in on every now and then.

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review 2018-06-03 10:43
Short but perfectly formed. Highly recommended.
Literature® - Guillermo Stitch

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and thank Rosie and the author for providing me an ARC copy of this novella, which I freely chose to review.

It is difficult to describe the reading experience of Literature. I have read reviews comparing it to noir novels (absolutely, especially the voice of the characters and some of the situations), to Fahrenheit 451 (inevitable due to the plot, where fiction has been banned and nobody can possess or read books) and 1984 (although we don’t get a lot of detail of the way the world is being run, the sense of claustrophobia and continuous surveillance, and the way terrorism is defined are definitely there), and even Blade Runner (perhaps, although Literature is far less detailed and much more humorous). I did think about all of those while I read it, is true, although it is a pretty different experience to all of them.

Billy Stringer is a mixture of the reluctant hero and the looser/anti-hero type. The novella shares only one day of his life, but, what a day! Let’s say it starts badly (things hadn’t been going right for Billy for a while at the point when we meet him) and it goes downhill from there. The story is told in the third-person but solely from Billy’s point of view, and we are thrown right in. There is no world-building or background information. We just share in Billy’s experiences from the start, and although he evidently knows the era better than we do, he is far from an expert when it comes to the actual topic he is supposed to cover for his newspaper that day. He is a sports journalist covering an important item of news about a technological/transportation innovation.  We share in his confusion and easily identify with him. Apart from the action, he is involved in, which increases exponentially as the day moves on, there are also flashbacks of his past. There is his failed love story, his friendship with his girlfriend’s brother, and his love for books.

The story is set in a future that sounds technologically quite different to our present, but not so ideologically different (and that is what makes it poignant and scary, as well as funny). People smoke, but you can get different versions of something equivalent to cigarettes, but they are all registered (it seems everything is registered). And you can drink alcohol as well (and Billy does, as it pertains to a hero in a noir novel). Transportation has become fundamental and it has developed its own fascinating-sounding technology (the descriptions of both, the vehicles and the process are riveting). It has to be fed by stories, by fiction, although literature itself has been banned. We get to know how this works and, let me tell you that it’s quite beautiful.

The book is short and I don’t want to spoil the story for readers, but I can tell you the writing is excellent and it is exquisitely edited. Despite its brevity, I could not help but share a couple of snippets.

“You like her?” he said. He was looking at the knife like a person might look at an especially favored kitten. “Been with me a long time,” he said. “She’s an old lady now. But she’s still sharp.” He looked up at Billy. “I keep her that way.”

In a day very generously populated with problems, Jane’s kid brother was Billy’s newest.

I loved the ending of the book. It is perhaps not standard noir, but nothing is standard in this book.

I recommend it to anybody interested in discovering a new and talented writer, with a love for language and for stories that are challenging, playful, and fascinating. A treat.

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text 2018-05-30 06:46
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Market: Global Market Estimation, Dynamics, Regional Share, Trends, Competitor Analysis 2012 to 2016 and Forecast 2017 to 2023

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Market: Global Market Estimation, Dynamics, Regional Share, Trends, Competitor Analysis 2012 to 2016 and Forecast 2017 to 2023

 

 

Global Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Market: By technology (In-Vitro Fertilization, Artificial Insemination, Surrogacy, Others), By Procedure (Fresh Non donor, Fresh Donor, Frozen Non Donor, Frozen Donor, Embryo Banking), End Users (Hospitals, Fertility Clinics, Others), and Geography – Market Estimation, Dynamics, Regional Share, Trends, Competitor Analysis 2012-2016 and Forecast 2017-2023

 

Market Dynamics: Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Market

 

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is a treatment for infertility, performed to achieve the childbirth. ART procedures include stimulation of ovaries to increase the egg production or artificial insemination or combining the sperms and eggs in the laboratory (in vitro) and embryo is transferred to woman to attain the pregnancy. Increase in the number of infertility cases, government initiations to address the infertility incidences, high disposable income in developed countries, increase in population with obesity and mental stress due to change in lifestyle, and rise in consumption of tobacco and alcohol are anticipated to propel the assisted reproductive technology (ART) market over the forecast years. However, high risk of birth defects, high cost of treatment, dearth of skilled professional in underdeveloped countries, and ethical issues may hamper the growth of assisted reproductive technology (ART) market.

 

A sample of this report is available upon request @

https://www.precisionbusinessinsights.com/market-reports/assisted-reproductive-technology-art-market/#ulp-4H8Z4LpNMLEuOnnx

 

 

Market Scope: Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Market

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) market is segmented on the basis of technology, procedure, end-user and region

Based on technology, the market is segmented into the following:

  • In-Vitro Fertilization
    • Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis
    • Intra-cytoplasmic Sperm injection
  • Artificial Insemination
    • Intracervical Insemination
    • Intrauterine Insemination
    • Others
  • Surrogacy
  • Others

Based on the procedure, the market is segmented into the following:

  • Fresh Non donor
  • Fresh Donor
  • Frozen Non Donor
  • Frozen Donor
  • Embryo Banking

Based on the end user, the market is segmented into the following:

  • Hospitals
  • Fertility Clinics
  • Others

Based on the region, the market is segmented into the following:

  • North America
  • Europe
  • Asia Pacific
  • Latin America
  • Middle East and Africa

 

To view TOC of this report is available upon request @

 

https://www.precisionbusinessinsights.com/market-reports/assisted-reproductive-technology-art-market/#ulp-c654SbFYO64MsOhu

 

 

Regional Analysis:  Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Market

Geographically, global Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East and Africa regions. North America assisted reproductive technology market growth driven by high awareness about assisted reproductive technology among U.S. population, government support for the infertility treatment, rise in prevalence of obesity and stress due to change in lifestyle. Europe assisted reproductive technology market expected to present lucrative growth owing to adoption of newer technologies for infertility treatment, high success rate in assisted reproductive technology, and increase in the prevalence of infertility Spain, Russia, U.K., and Germany. Asia Pacific assisted reproductive technology market expected to account for significant share due to rise in infertility cases, late family planning, and availability of technologically advanced fertility services in the region. Latin America assisted reproductive technology market has a notable share in global market owing to expansion of business by the companies, rise in awareness about infertility treatment, and rise in healthcare expenditure are bolster the market. Middle East and Africa assisted reproductive technology market is poised to grow over forecast period owing to economic growth in the Middle East countries and increase in the infertility due to malnutrition in women are expected to upsurge the revenue of market.

 

Need more information about this report @

https://www.precisionbusinessinsights.com/market-reports/assisted-reproductive-technology-art-market/#ulp-14mlyhjMGhVjZqa3

 

Competition Assessment: Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Market

Key players profiles in the global assisted reproductive technology (ART) market include:

  • Irvin Scientific (U.S.)
  • Origio A/S (Denmark)
  • Microm UK Ltd (U.K.)
  • Parallabs Ltd (U.K.)
  • Cryolab Ltd. (U.K.)
  • Merck KGaA (Germany)
  • Vitrolife AB (Sweden)

 

Notable Market Developments: Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Market

  • In January 2016, Irvine Scientific acquired BioCare Europe S.r.l. for strengthening its in vitro fertilization (IVF) portfolio

 

Key Features of the Report:

  • The report provides granular level information about the market size, regional market share, historic market (2012-2016) and forecast (2017-2023)
  • The report covers in-detail insights about the competitor’s overview, company share analysis, key market developments, and their key strategies
  • The report outlines drivers, restraints, unmet needs, and trends that are currently affecting the market
  • The report tracks recent innovations, key developments and startup’s details that are actively working in the market
  • The report provides plethora of information about market entry strategies, regulatory framework and reimbursement scenario
  • The report analyses the impact of socio-political environment through PESTLE Analysis and competition through Porter’s Five Force Analysis in addition to recent technology advancements and innovations in the market

 

Get access to full summary @

 

https://www.precisionbusinessinsights.com/market-reports/assisted-reproductive-technology-art-market/

About Precision Business Insights

 

Precision Business Insights is one of the leading market research and business consulting firm, which follow a holistic approach to solve needs of the clients. We adopt and implement proven research methodologies to achieve better results. We help our clients by providing actionable insights and strategies to make better decisions. We provide consulting, syndicated and customised market research services based on our client needs.

 

Contact to Precision Business Insights,

 

Kemp House,

152 – 160 City Road,

London EC1V 2NX

 

Email: sales@precisionbusinessinsights.com

 

Toll Free (US): +1-866-598-1553

Website @ https://www.precisionbusinessinsights.com

 

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