762 results 1-20
In Automate This, Christopher Steiner looks at how the rise of computerized decision making affects every aspect of business and daily life
These days, high-level tasks-such as diagnosing an illness or interpreting legal documents-are increasingly being handled by algorithms that can do precise work with speed and nuance. These "bots" started on Wall Street, but now their reach has spread beyond anything their original creators expected.
In this fascinating book, Steiner tells the story of how algorithms took over-and shows why the "bot revolution" is about to spill into every aspect of our lives. We meet bots that are driving cars, penning haikus, and writing music mistaken for Bach's. They listen in on customer service calls and figure out what Iran would do in the event of a nuclear standoff.
But what will the world look like when algorithms control our hospitals, our roads, our culture, and our national security? What happens to businesses when we automate judgment and eliminate human instinct? And what role will be left for doctors, lawyers, writers, truck drivers, and many others?
Published: 30 Jul 2015
Published: 4 May 2000
David Attenborough (Author) , David Attenborough (Read by) , David Attenborough (Read by)
One of the nation’s most popular presenters examines twenty marvels of the natural world from his extraordinary and pioneering experiences. How did Sir David track down a giant Earthworm? Why does he respect Rats? What was the first bribe in nature? Why do well known foods often have two names? And where can you see evidence of the earliest life on Earth? His enthusiasm is as infectious as ever, and conveys a unique fascination on topics as diverse as the Kiwi, Hummingbirds, Monsters, Butterflies, Chimps, Cuckoos, Fireflies and Elsa, the famous lioness. So listen to these stories to find out why Rats should be respected and which insects emerge from the ground only once every 17 years. Includes detailed programme notes inside the booklet.
3 CDs. 3 hrs 15 mins.
Published: 4 Aug 2011
David Attenborough (Author) , David Attenborough (Read by) , David Attenborough (Read by)
One of the nation's most popular presenters examines twenty marvels of the natural world from his extraordinary and pioneering experiences.What was Sir David's first pet? Which animal would he most like to be? What creature lays 'the biggest egg in the world'? How do you communicate with an ancient nomadic community in Fiji? And what did Sir David do when confronted by a ten-foot-long reptile? His enthusiasm is as infectious as ever, and conveys a unique fascination on topics as diverse as the Sloth, Monstrous Flowers, the Platypus, Giant Birds, Dragons, the Fire Salamander, Faking Fossils, the Coelacanth, the Dodo, Bird's-nest Soup and the Large Blue Butterfly. So listen to these stories to find out the real reason why animals sing, the story behind a 150-million-year-old feather and what it is about snakes that really unnerves Sir David.
3 CDs. 3 hrs 9 mins.
Published: 22 Oct 2009
***30th Anniversary Edition***
Cover note: Each copy of the anniversary edition of The Blind Watchmaker features a unique biomorph. No two covers are exactly alike.
Acclaimed as the most influential work on evolution written in the last hundred years, The Blind Watchmaker offers an inspiring and accessible introduction to one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. A brilliant and controversial book which demonstrates that evolution by natural selection - the unconscious, automatic, blind yet essentially non-random process discovered by Darwin - is the only answer to the biggest question of all: why do we exist?
**The New York Times Bestseller**
'Space elevators, gold asteroids, and fusion-powered toasters - who knew science could be so much fun? Soonish is hilarious, provocative, and shamelessly informative' Tim Harford, author of Messy and The Undercover Economist
From a top scientist and the creator of the hugely popular web comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, an illustrated investigation into future technologies
What will the world of tomorrow be like? How does progress happen? And why don't we have a lunar colony yet?
In this witty and entertaining book, Zach and Kelly Weinersmith give us a snapshot of the transformative technologies that are coming next - from robot swarms to nuclear fusion powered-toasters - and explain how they will change our world in astonishing ways. By weaving together their own research, interviews with pioneering scientists and Zach's trademark comics, the Weinersmiths investigate why these innovations are needed, how they would work, and what is standing in their way.
Imagine a world where all the news you see is defined by your salary, where you live, and who your friends are. Imagine a world where you never discover new ideas. And where you can't have secrets.
Welcome to 2011.
Google and Facebook are already feeding you what they think you want to see. Advertisers are following your every click. Your computer monitor is becoming a one-way mirror, reflecting your interests and reinforcing your prejudices.
The internet is no longer a free, independent space. It is commercially controlled and ever more personalised. The Filter Bubble reveals how this hidden web is starting to control our lives - and shows what we can do about it.
From the bestselling author of Everything Bad is Good for You, Steven Johnson's The Invention of Air tells the incredible story of scientist and radical Joseph Priestley, who invented soda water, discovered oxygen, and incited rioting with his political views.
In 1794, Joseph Priestley - amateur scientist, ordained minister and radical thinker - set sail for America to escape persecution. Steven Johnson tells his incredible story: the discovery of oxygen, the invention of a science, the founding of a church, and, with the great minds of his time, the development of the United States itself. But Priestley's revolutionary ideas put him in terrible danger.
Johnson uses the progress of Priestley and his colleagues not merely to describe the wonder of discovery, but to show us how we have come to understand the world, how far we have travelled with the power of human enquiry - and how one man's curiosity can help build an entire country.
'A shot of the purest oxygen'
'Packed with excellent stuff'
'Entertaining ... clear-sighted and intelligent'
'As full of ingenuity and as delightful as its subject'
The New York Times
'Johnson paints Priestley not as a man of the past but precisely the sort of figure the world needs more than ever'
New York Post
Steven Johnson is the author of the acclaimed books Everything Bad is Good for You, Mind Wide Open, Where Good Ideas Come From, The Ghost Map, Emergence and Interface Culture. His writing appeared in the Guardian, the New Yorker, Nation and Harper's, as well as the op-ed pages of The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He is a Distinguished Writer In Residence at NYU's School Of Journalism, and a Contributing Editor to Wired.
Steven Johnson's Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software is a fascinating look at how self-organising systems are changing the world.
- Why do people cluster together in neighborhoods?
- How do internet communities spring up from nowhere?
- Why is a brain conscious even though no single neuron is?
- What causes a media frenzy?
The answer, as Steven Johnson's groundbreaking book shows, is emergence: change that occurs from the bottom up. When enough individual elements interact and organize themselves, the result is collective intelligence - even though no-one is in charge. It is a phenomenon that exists at every level of experience, and will
revolutionize the way we see the world.
'A dizzying, dazzling romp through fields as disparate as urban planning, computer-game design, neurology and control theory'
'Mind-expanding ... intelligent, witty and tremendously thought-provoking ... Popular science books interesting enough to read twice don't come along all that often'
'Not just a fascinating quirk of science: it's the future'
The New York Times
Steven Johnson is the author of the acclaimed books Everything Bad is Good for You, Mind Wide Open, Where Good Ideas Come From, Emergence and Interface Culture. His writing appeared in the Guardian, the New Yorker, Nation and Harper's, as well as the op-ed pages of The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He is a Distinguished Writer In Residence at NYU's School Of Journalism, and a Contributing Editor to Wired.
Published: 1 Aug 2002
High in the Canadian Rockies is a small limestone quarry formed 530 million years ago. Called the Burgess Shale, it holds the remains of an ancient sea where dozens of strange creatures lived - a forgotten corner of evolution preserved in incredible detail. In this book Stephen Jay Gould explores what the Burgess Shale might tell us about evolution and the nature of history.
The Darwinian theory of evolution is a well-known, well-explored area. But there is one aspect of human life which this theory of evolution fails to account for: chance. Using the brilliantly preserved fossil fauna of the Burgess Shale as his case study, Gould argues that chance was in fact one of the decisive factors in the evolution of life on this planet, and that, with a flip of coin, everything could have been very different indeed.
Published: 3 Aug 2000
The personality of the cat is a fascinating mixture of affection, domesticity and active independence. You may think you know your cat as he purrs in your lap, but come across your pet in the street on a dark night and you might think that Bagpuss suffers from a dual personality.
Every single feline pet carries an inheritance of amazing sensory capacities, vocal utterances, body language and territorial displays. By answering such questions as 'what does a cat signal with its ears? 'why does a cat rub up against your leg?' and 'why does a cat swing its head from side to side when staring at its prey?', Desmond Morris decodes the private world of the cat.
Your cat is full of surprises and our finest zoologist is about to reveal their secrets in this beautifully repackaged edition of a much loved bestseller.
Published: 26 Mar 2009
Published: 31 Mar 2012
From caveman to modern man ...
Few people doubt that humans are descended from the apes; fewer still consider, let alone accept, the psychological implications. But in truth, man not only looks, moves and breathes like an ape, he also thinks like one.
Sexual drive, survival, competition, aggression - all of our impulses are driven by our human instincts. They explain why a happily married man will fantasize about the pretty, slim, young woman sitting across from him in the tube and why thousands of people spend their week entirely focused on whether their team will win their next crucial match.
But how well do our instincts equip us for the twenty-first century? Do they help or hinder us as we deal with large anonymous cities, stressful careers, relationships and the battle of the sexes? In this fascinating book, Robert Winston takes us on a journey deep into the human mind. Along the way he takes a very personal look at the relationship between science and religion and explores those very instincts that make us human.
Timothy Ferris, bestselling author of Coming of Age in the Milky Way, brilliantly synthesizes inner and outer space with a penetrating examination into the nature of the universe and the human brain that perceives it. Through the lenses of two innovative fields of scientific research - neuroscience and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI - Ferris brings into focus a startling new vision of the relationship between mind and universe.
Whether he is contemplating the possibility of otherwordly life-forms or pondering the consequences of virtual reality computer technology, Timothy Ferris captures our sense of wonder with a lucid and imaginative look at one of modern science's greatest challenges; how we can understand, interpret and, ultimately, reconcile the equally mysterious realms of mind and universe. From ancient Stone Age burial mounds to today's state-of-the-art laboratories, solving this eternal riddle has been the goal of philosophers and mystics, occultists and poets, alchemists and scientists. In The Mind's Sky, Ferris examines the 'dance' between mind and cosmos, showing how the universe is partly a construct of the mind itself and asking whether intelligence - far from being a product of our world alone - may have universal currency.
Ferris considers the intriguing complexity of the human brain and what constitutes real intelligence. Laughter, near-death experiences, athletic performance ('Joe Montana's Premotor Cortex'), the neurobiology of mystical experience, and a subtle mental program called 'the interpreter' are all part of his freewheeling quest into the nature of consciousness.
Ferris advances the provocative thesis that SETI, our current search for life on other planets, could reward the human race with the fruit of cosmic knowledge - or prove as cataclysmic as Eve's desire for the apple. And he gives us an inside look at IT - information theory - a new philosophy of knowledge and communication.
Filled with the combination of scientific fact, human anecdote, and provocative insight that has become his trademark, Timothy Ferris's The Mind's Sky offers a rare, life-enhancing perception of our world and our cosmos and underscores the unique choices we face as a species capable of deciding our own fate on the planet - and among the stars.
Published: 15 Feb 2011
Listen. Can you hear an aircraft passing overhead? A dog barking? The twittering of birds? In straining to listen, you have just sent a surge of electrical activity through millions of brain cells. In choosing to do this with your mind, you have changed your brain - you have made brain cells fire, at the side of your head, above the right eye. By the time you've read this far, you will have changed your brain permanently. These words will leave a faint trace in the woven electricity of you. For 'you' exists in the trembling web of connected brain cells. This web is in flux, continually remoulded, sculpted by the restless energy of the world. That energy is transformed at your senses into the utterly unique weave of brain connections that is YOU.
New research has demonstrated the way in which the brain is shaped by experience and sculpted by our interactions with the world around us. As one of the world's leading authorities on brain rehabilitation, Ian Robertson is uniquely placed to explore these ground-breaking discoveries, that free us from the currently fashionable genetically determinist view. Mind Sculpture is a singularly accessible and imaginative book which communicates the excitement and challenge of the most recent research, its consequences for how we understand the brain and how we perceive ourselves.
Published: 1 Sep 2005
Published: 31 Aug 2013
In his first book since the acclaimed The Running Sky Tim Dee tells the story of four green fields. Four fields spread around the world: their grasses, their hedges, their birds, their skies, and their natural and human histories. Four real fields – walkable, mappable, man-made, mowable and knowable, but also secretive, mysterious, wild, contested and changing. Four fields – the oldest and simplest and truest measure of what a man needs in life – looked at, thought about, worked in, lived with, written.
Dee’s four fields, which he has known for more than twenty years, are the fen field at the bottom of his Cambridgeshire garden, a field in southern Zambia, a prairie field in Little Bighorn, Montana, USA, and a grass meadow in the exclusion zone at Chernobyl, Ukraine. Meditating on these four fields, Dee makes us look anew at where we live and how. He argues that we must attend to what we have made of the wild, to look at and think about the way we have messed things up but also to notice how we have kept going alongside nature, to listen to the conversation we have had with grass and fields.
Four Fields is a profound, lyrical book by one of Britain’s very best writers about nature.
Shortlisted for the 2014 Ondaatje Prize