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review 2018-02-20 02:51
I like to think that I'm pretty tech-savvy but...
Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything - Kelly Weinersmith,Zach Weinersmith

I'm a naturally curious person (obvious to the longtime reader) and I really enjoy learning about the the world we inhabit. I especially enjoy discussions which forecast what our world might look like in the near to distant future. This book touched on a lot of that and much more (much of it out of my sphere of knowledge). Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly Weinersmith (with illustrations by Zach Weiner) covers everything from space settlements (and space elevators!) to computer brain interfaces (no thank you!) with Utah Array (basically multiple neuron points). The wide variety of topics explored should appeal to a diverse audience and if that doesn't do it the illustrations scattered throughout certainly will as they further explain extremely technical subjects through a pop science lens (some quite funny while others tried just a bit too hard). I have to give them a giant HOORAY for their excellent use of references such as George Church (remember him from Woolly?) which lent a more academic feel. Besides explaining what inventions we might see in the future, Weinersmith discusses the concerns both ethical and economical which could either delay or outright stall further development. The futurists among you would do well to check this book out to get excited for the years ahead while the cynics might want to get their hands on it to strengthen their arguments. ;-) 7/10

 

And this is why I'm terrified. [Source: Penguin Books]

 

What's Up Next: Kid Authors: True Tales of Childhood from Famous Writers by David Stabler

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-02-15 07:06
How we overestimate technological change
Future Hype: The Myths of Technology Change - Bob Seidensticker

This is a fascinating yet flawed book. Robert Seidensticker's argument is that people have long overestimated the speed of technological change, which he demonstrates by surveying the decades of grandiose predictions that have fallen flat. From them he derives a series of "high-tech myths" that serve as a commonality running through many of these overestimates, before concluding by drawing some conclusions as to why people do that and how they might avoid making such mistakes in the future. Seidensticker's thesis is a credible one, and his examples show how it has merit, but his analysis suffers from a degree of confirmation bias by cherry-picking his examples and ignoring or glancing over ones which might require a greater degree of qualification. Had he pursued a more nuanced study he might have produced a more valuable examination of human reaction to technological change, though it would probably not have been as forceful as what he does provide his readers

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review 2018-02-09 22:36
Dangerous - Shannon Hale

This was great. The setup is diverse science-geek kids become a Power-Rangers-style team of superheroes with mysterious alien-derived powers. Then it goes somewhere different.

 

Some cool things it included:


-caring parents that remain present and supportive
-kids with goals/girls w/ STEM goals they're pursuing
-decent representation across genders, races, abilities, nationalities & economic statuses
-everyone has a nuanced backstory
-it's not just another 'yay team' clone

-MC is homeschooled (but not a genius), multi-lingual & multi-racial, lost her hand at birth, designs her own prosthetics

 

There was a dizzying whirlwind of plot, and I think this could have been split into a duology given the amount of twists and developments. I inhaled it almost in a single sitting. Really entertaining and a lot of fresh takes on tropes while still checking all the boxes for thriller/SF/superhero story. So different than Hale's fairytale retellings, but just as excellent.

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review 2018-01-14 20:23
Listening In: Cybersecurity in an Insecure Age
Listening In: Cybersecurity in an Insecure Age - Susan Landau

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

An interesting foray into encryption and privacy, especially when considering the point of view of authorities who may need to access data on devices seized upon arrests.

The author makes a case for strengthened encryption, and I feel this makes more sense than the contrary. The book is positioned around the main controversy of including backdoors to allow police and intelligence services to access a device, so that when they need to do it during an investigation, to apprehend a perp or to follow the trail of other people potentially involved, they could do so easily; whereas strong encryption would make it difficult or impossible. However, as has been discussed during actual investigations (an example given in the book involves Apple), there’d be no guarantees that in-built backdoors would be used only by authorities: if they’re here, sooner or later someone with ill intentions is bound to find them and use them, too.

This ties into a general concern about how we have evolved into a digital age, and have to envision security from this perspective. Here also, while not going into deep technical details, the book explains the principles underlying this new brand of security; how this or that method works; the pros and cons of going towards more encryption or less encryption; what other solutions have already been tested, especially in military environments; how cyber-attacks can disrupt governmental operations in many different ways, such as what happened with Estonia and Georgia, and even the 2016 US elections. All very current and hot issues that deserve to be pointed at and examined, because whatever solutions get implemented, if they create less security and impinge on civilian privacy as well, they’re not going to be useful for very long (if ever).

Also interesting, even though it’s not the main focus, is the concept of encryption methods needing to be made public in order to be really efficient: the more people have a chance of poking at them, testing them, and finding faults, the more these methods can be revised and strengthened.

Conclusion: Not a very technical book, but that’s precisely why it makes a good introduction to such matters: easy to understand, while highlighting major concerns that not only deal with national security, but with our own (and with our privacy) as well.

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review 2017-12-20 20:46
Thinking ahead
The Great Questions of Tomorrow (TED Books) - David Rothkopf

Have you guys ever watched a TED Talk? Well, apparently some of those Ted Talks are turned into published works so that the ideas can be delved into a little deeper. (To see more you can visit their website here. (They haven't asked me to review today's book by the way.)) I hadn't watched David Rothkopf's talk but The Great Questions of Tomorrow was featured in my regular 'what's new at Simon & Schuster' email and it seemed to be calling my name. Rothkopf is exploring a very wide and diverse range of topics with a central theme of  'what does this mean for the future?' running through them all. I guess it should come as no surprise that this book thoroughly freaked me out while at the same time fascinating me. Have you thought about the future of drone warfare and whether or not it might constitute the necessity for intelligent machines to have rights as members of society? WELL, NOW YOU ARE. He jumped from frightening scenarios like that to ones that hadn't even occurred to me such as complete mobile banking which would see the demise of physical currency and brick and mortar banks. O_O I especially enjoyed his take on government and how we should be trying to elect leaders who not only understand technology but can look towards the future to prepare accordingly. His example of how this was not done was that just because there was one shoe bomber it shouldn't mean we have to remove our shoes at airports into perpetuity. All in all, it was a fascinating read that I zipped right through. It's great for the people in your life (or yourself!) that enjoy philosophical discussions about the future and how actions of today and yesterday have and should continue to have direct bearing on how we handle events in the future. 10/10

 

Rothkopf's original TED Talk "How fear drives American politics"

 

 

What's Up Next: Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons From a Small-Town Obituary Writer by Heather Lende

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Mine Own Execution by Nigel Balchin

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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