Novacene: The Coming Age Of Hyperintelligence by James Lovelock and Bryan Appleyard

The Blurb On The Back:

A new look at the future of life on Earth by the great scientific visionary of our age.

James Lovelock, creator of the Gaia hypothesis and the greatest environmental thinker of our time, has produced an astounding new theory about the future of life on Earth.  He argues that the anthropocene – the age in which humans acquired planetary-scale technologies – is, after 300 years, coming to an end.  A new age – the novacene- has already begun.

New beings will emerge from existing artificial intelligence systems.  They will think 10,000 times faster than we do and they will regard us as we now regard plants – as desperately slow acting and thinking creatures.  But this will not be the cruel, violent machine takeover of the planet imagined by sci-if writers and film-makers.  These hyper-intelligent beings will be as dependent on the health of the planet as we are.  They will need the planetary cooling system of Gaia to defend them from the increasing heat of the sun as much as we do.  And Gaia depends on organic life.  We will be partners in this project.

It is crucial, Lovelock argues, that the intelligence of Earth survives and prospers.  He does not think there are intelligent aliens, so we are the only beings capable of understanding the cosmos.  Maybe, he speculates, the novacene could even be the beginning of a process that will finally lead to intelligence suffusing the entire cosmos.  At the age 100, James Lovelock has produced an important and compelling new work. 

You can order NOVACENE: THE COMING AGE OF HYPERINTELLIGENCE by James Lovelock and Bryan Appleyard from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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News 2.0: Journalists, Audiences, And News On Social Media by Ahmed Al-Rawi

The Blurb On The Back:

Offers fresh insights and empirical evidence on the producers, consumers, and content of News 2.0

News 2.0 has forever changed the news business.  This second generation of news is made, distributed, and consumed on the internet, particularly social media.  News 2.0: Journalists, Audiences, And News On Social Media examines the ways in which news production is sometimes biased and how social networking sites (SNS) have become highly personalised news platforms that reflect users’ preferences and world views.  Drawing from empirical evidence, this book provides a critical and analytical assessment of recent developments, major debates, and contemporary research on news, social media, and news organisations worldwide.

Author Ahmed Al-Ravi highlights how, despite the proliferation of news on social media, consumers are often confined within filter “bubbles”.  Emphasising non-Western media outlets, the text explores the content, audiences, and producers of News 2.0, and addresses direct impacts on democracy, politics, and institutions.  Topics include viral news on SNS, celebrity journalists and branding, “fake news” discourse, and the emergence of mobile news apps as ethnic mediascapes.  Integrating computational journalism methods and cross-national comparative research, this unique volume:

– Examines different aspects of news bias such as news content and production, emphasising news values theory.

– Assesses how international media organisations including CNN, BBC, and RT address non-Western news audiences.

– Discusses concepts such as audience fragmentation on social media, viral news, networked flak, click bait, and internet bots.

– Employs novel techniques in text mining such as topic modelling to provide a holistic overview of news selection.

News 2.0: Journalists, Audiences, And News On Social Media is an innovative and illuminating resource for undergraduate and graduate students of media, communication, and journalism studies as well as media and communication scholars, media practitioners, journalists, and general readers with interest in the subject.

You can order NEWS 2.0: JOURNALISTS, AUDIENCES, AND NEWS ON SOCIAL MEDIA by Ahmed Al-Rawi from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will by Geoff Colvin

The Blurb On The Back:

As technology races ahead, what will people do better than computers?

What hope will there be for us when computers can drive cars better than humans, do intricate legal work, identify faces, scurry helpfully around offices and factories, even perform some surgeries, all faster, more reliably, and less expensively than people.

It’s easy to imagine a frightening future in which computers simply take over most of the tasks that people now get paid to do.  While we’ll still need high-level decision makers and computer developers, those tasks won’t keep most working-age people employed or allow their living standard to rise.  The unavoidable question – will millions of people lost out, unable to beat the machine? – is increasingly dominating business, education, economics and policy.

The bestselling author of TALENT IS OVERRATED explains how the abilities that will prove most essential to our success are no longer the technical, classroom-taught left-brain skills that economic advanced have demanded from workers in the past.  Instead, our greatest advantage lies in what we humans are most powerfully driven to do for and with one another, arising fro our deepest, most essentially human abilities – empathy, creativity, social sensitivity, storytelling, humour, building relationships, and expressing ourselves with greater power than a machine mind can ever achieve.  This is how we create durable value that is not easily replicated by technology – because we’re hardwired to want it from humans.

These high-value skills create tremendous competitive advantage – more devoted customers, stronger cultures, breakthrough ideas, and more effective teams.  And while many of us regard these abilities as innate traits – “he’s a real people person,” “she’s naturally creative” – it turns out they can all be developed.  Leading business, medical clinics and even the US Army are now emphasising human interactions and empathy in their training programmes.

Meanwhile, studies have shown that our increasing reliance on technology for interaction and entertainment is not only making us less happy, trusting and likely to achieve good grades, it is also damaging our abilities to recognise emotion and harmonise with others – the very skills we will need to prosper.

As technology advances, we shouldn’t focus on beating computers at what they do – we’ve lost that contest.  Instead, we must develop our most essential human abilities and teach our children to value not just technology but also the richness of interpersonal experience.  They will be the most valuable people in our world because of it.  Colvin proves that to a far greater degree than most of us ever imagined, we already have what it takes to be great.

You can order HUMANS ARE UNDERRATED: WHAT HIGH ACHIEVERS KNOW THAT BRILLIANT MACHINES NEVER WILL by Geoff Colvin from Amazon USA Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Augmented Reality by Mark Pesce

The Blurb On The Back:

Slated as “the next big thing in tech”, augmented reality (AR) promises to take the screen out of our hands and wrap it around the world via “smart spectacles”.  As a pervasive, invisible interface between the world and our senses, AR offers unparalleled capacity to reveal hidden digital depths, but it also comes at a cost to our privacy, our property, and our reality.

In this crucial and provocative book, Mark Pesce draws on over thirty years’ experience to offer the first mainstream exploration of augmented reality.  He discusses the exciting and beneficial features of AR as well as the issues and risks raised by this still-emerging technology – a technology that moulds us by shaping what we see and hear.

Augmented Reality is essential reading for anyone interested in the growing influence of this impressive but deeply concerning technology.  As the book reveals, reality – once augmented – will never be the same. 

You can order AUGMENTED REALITY by Mark Pesce from Amazon UKAmazon USA, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Trampled By Unicorns: Big Tech’s Empathy Problem And How To Fix It by Maëlle Gavet

The Blurb On The Back:

There is no Blurb On The Back.  Instead there are the following quotes:

”Gavet has delivered a very important piece of work which highlights the issues around technology, information, democracy, and the human condition.  Everyone will benefit from reading her analysis.”

ROBERT SIEGEL, Lecturer in Management, Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Gavet proposed a number of remedies – not quick fixes, but fundamental shifts into more equitable, long-term thinking that will actually make everyone much happier without the addictive highs of 100x returns and CEO worship.”

ESTHER DYSON, Founding Chair, ICANN; Executive Founder, Wellville

“Despite being a tech insider, Maëlle Gavet successfully applies outside-in thinking to the tech backlash.  The future of tech depends on it.”

CHRISTA QUARLES, Former CEO, OpenTable; Board Member, Kimberly-Clark and Affirm

“Gavet doesn’t just discuss the current and emerging problems confronting the tech industry and those of us who use their products; she recommends thoughtful and implementable solutions.  This is a book for anyone who cares about the future of technology and the technology industry.”

LARRY IRVING, Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce; Member, Internet Hall of Fame

“Maëlle Gavet has written a book that should be an alert to us all – not by pointing a finger, but through sound diagnosis leading to a credible course of action.  A great contribution to inform a public debate that needs to happen now.”

RICHARD STRAUB, Founder and President, Global Peter Drucker Forum

Trampled By Unicorns is essential reading for anyone who leads or aspires to lead people and companies.”

SHAN-LYN MA, CEO, Zola

You can buy TRAMPLED BY UNICORNS: BIG TECH’S EMPATHY PROBLEM AND HOW TO FIX IT by Maëlle Gavet Stroud from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Teachers vs Tech? The Case For An Ed Tech Revolution by Daisy Christodoulou

The Blurb On The Back:

Daisy Christodoulou asks why ed tech – with all its potential – hasn’t yet had the transformative impact on education that it has long promised.

Rooted in research and written from an educationalist’s perspective, Teachers vs Tech?  examines a broad range of topics, from the science of learning and assessment to the continued importance of teaching facts, exploring international examples from both big brand digital platforms and smaller start-ups.

Daisy Christodoulou draws on her experience working in classrooms and within the education community to outline a revolutionary vision for the future: one where technology is developed in conjunction with teacher expertise and is ultimately used to improve education outcomes for all. 

You can buy TEACHERS VS TECH? THE CASE FOR AN ED TECH REVOLUTION by Daisy Christodoulou from Amazon USA, Amazon UKWaterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Life 3.0: Being Human In The Age Of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark

The Blurb On The Back:

We stand at the beginning of a new era.  What was once science fiction is fast becoming reality, as AI transforms war, crime, justice, jobs and society – and even, our very sense of what it means to be human.  More than any other technology, AI has the potential to revolutionise our collective future.

How can we grow our prosperity through automation, without leaving people lacking income or purpose?  How can we ensure that future AI systems do what we want without crashing, malfunctioning or getting hacked?  Will AI help life flourish as never before, or will machines eventually outsmart us at all tasks, and even, perhaps, replace us altogether?

Life 3.0 gives us the tools to join what may be the most important conversation of our time, guiding us through the most controversial issues around AI today – from super intelligence to meaning, consciousness and the ultimate physical limits of life in the cosmos.

What sort of future do you want?

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Do Robots Make Love? From AI To Immortality by Laurent Alexandre and Jean-Michel Besnier

The Blurb On The Back:

Discover the incredible potential of mankind’s near future, as a doctor and a philosopher debate the big questions surrounding trans humanism – the tech movement that seeks to improve the human condition through science.

Transhumanism has fast become one of the most controversial subjects the scientific community has ever faced.  As scientists in California make great strides in using advanced technology to enhance human intellect and physiology, the ethical and moral questions surrounding its possibilities have never been more pressing.

– should we change the way we reproduce?

– could we enhance the human body with technology to the point where we are all technically cyborgs?

– does anyone really want to live for a thousand years?

– is it possible to make love to a robot?

Through 12 thought-provoking questions, doctor and entrepreneur Laurent Alexandre and tech-philosopher Jean-Michel Besnier go head to head in a captivating and entertaining debate about the fundamental and real-world ramifications of transhumanism. 

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Offline: Free Your Mind From Smartphone And Social Media Stress by Imran Rashid and Soren Kenner

The Blurb On The Back:

Are you being digitally manipulated?

Authors Imran Rashid and Soren Kenner have sparked an international debate by revealing the “mind hacks” Facebook, Apple, Google, and Instagram use to get you and your children hooked on their products. 

In Offline, they deliver an eye-opening research-based journey into the world of tech giants, smartphones, social engineering, and subconscious manipulation.  This provocative work shows you how digital devices change individuals and communities for better and worse.

A must-read if you or your kids use smartphones or tablets and spend time browsing social networks, playing online games or even just browsing sites with news and entertainment.

Learn how to recognise ‘mind hacks’ and avoid the potentially disastrous side-effects of digital pollution.  Unplug from the matrix.  Learn digital habits that work for you. 

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That Will Never Work by Marc Randolph

The Blurb On The Back:

The incredible untold story of how Netflix went from concept to company – all revealed by co-founder and first CEO Marc Randolph.

Once upon a time, brick-and-mortar video stores were king.  Late fees were ubiquitous, video-streaming unheard of, and widespread DVD adoption seemed about as imminent as flying cars.  Indeed, these were the widely accepted laws of the land in 1997, when Marc Randolph had an idea.  It was a simple thought – leveraging the internet to rent movies.  With Reed Hastings as the primary investor and Randolph as the CEO, together they founded Netflix.

Now with over 150 million subscribers, Netflix’s triumph feels inevitable, but the twenty-first century’s most disruptive startup began with few believers and calamity at every turn.  Marc Randolph’s transformational journey exemplifies how anyone with grit, gut instincts and determination can change the world – even with an idea that many think will never work.

Full of counterintuitive concepts and written in binge-worthy prose, Marc answers some of our most fundamental questions about taking that leap of faith in business or in life: how do you begin?  How do you weather disappointment and failure?  How do you deal with success?  What even is success?

From idea generation to team building to knowing when it’s time to let go, That Will Never Work is not only the ultimate follow-your-dreams parable, but also one of the most dramatic and insightful entrepreneurial stories of our time. 

You can order THAT WILL NEVER WORK by Marc Randolph from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Artificial Intelligence In Practice by Bernard Marr and Matt Ward

The Blurb On The Back:

Adopt AI-solutions to meet real-world business problems.

Artificial Intelligence In Practice is a practical resource that demystifies how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning can be used to solve common business challenges and open the door to opportunities that often exceed expectations.  The book is filled with insights from some of the most important AI giants including Google, Microsoft, Amazon, ALibaba, and other forward thinking industry leaders.  It also presents compelling case studies from traditional businesses and startups, that detail how AI is being applied in the real world of business. 

Bestselling author and AI expert Bernard Marr offers detailed examinations of 50 companies that have successfully integrated AI into their business practices.  He provides an overview of each company, describes the specific problem AI addressed and explains how AI offered a workable solution.  Each case study contains a comprehensive overview, some technical details as well as key learning summaries.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are the most important modern business trends that are driving today’s (and tomorrow’s) successes.  As the book’s myriad cases demonstrate, AI can be used in industries ranging from banking and finance to media and marketing.  By adopting AI technology, any business, no matter what size, sector or industry, can advance innovative solutions to their most demanding challenges.  

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AI For Marketing And Product Innovation by A K Pradeep, Andrew Appel and Stan Sthanunathan

The Blurb On The Back:

AI For Marketing And Product Innovation offers product innovators, creative talent and marketing professionals a hands-on and highly accessible guide to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).  The authors (a team of experts at the intersection of neuroscience, technology, insights, and marketing) reveal how to harness AI and ML to accelerate product innovation and marketing.  These two powerful new tools stand poised to revolutionize the way we sell products and make innovative breakthroughs.

This vital resource explores a wide range of business-related topics, from innovation, branding, pricing and promotions, creative storytelling to the future of market research and advertising agencies.  All the techniques presented in the book have become algorithms and serve as real-life examples of AI and ML at work.  In addition, the authors outline the resources, the skills, best practices, terminology, and metrics required to harness the unparalleled and rapidly expanding power of these twin technologies.  AI For Marketing And Product Innovation provides an in-depth look at what AI is, what it can – and cannot – do, and contains practical ideas and insights on ways in which to apply that knowledge to your business and career development.

Throughout the book, the authors neither resort to mathematical mumbo-jumbo nor do they present an endless array of irrelevant case studies.  Instead, they challenge us to “Think Different”.  AI For Marketing And Product Innovation is filled with the information needed to understand the practical business implications of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.  In clear terms, the book shows how to put them to work to gain a competitive advantage in today’s increasingly digitally-driven economy.

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Future Politics by Jamie Susskind

The Blurb On The Back:

Politics in the twentieth century was dominated by a single question:

how much of our collective life should be determined by the state, and what should be left to the market and civil society?

Now the debate is different:

to what extent should our lives be directed and controlled by powerful digital systems – and on what terms?

Digital technologies – from artificial intelligence to blockchain, from robotics to virtual reality – are transforming the way we live together.  Those who control the most powerful technologies are increasingly able to control the rest of us.  As time goes on, these powerful entities – usually big tech firms and the state – will set the limit of our liberty, decreeing what may be done and what is forbidden.  Their algorithms will determine vital questions of social justice.  In their hands, democracy will flourish or decay.

A landmark work of political theory, Future Politics challenges readers to rethink what it means to be free or equal, what it means to have power or property, and what it means for a political system to be just or democratic.  In a time of rapid and relentless changes, it is a book about how we can – and must – regain control. 

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Hackerspaces: Making The Maker Movement by Sarah R. Davies

The Blurb On The Back:

A new industrial revolution.  The age of making.  From bits to atoms.  Many people are excited by the possibilities offered by new fabrication technologies like 3D printers, and the ways in which they are being used in hacker and makerspaces.  But why is the power of hacking and making an idea whose time has come?

Hackerspaces: Making The Maker Movement takes the rise of the maker movement as its starting point.  Hacker and makerspaces, Fab Labs, and DIY bio spaces are emerging all over the world.  Based on a study of hacker and makerspaces across the US, this book explores cultures of hacking and making in the context of wider social changes, arguing that excitement about the maker movement is not just about the availability of new technologies, but the kind of citizens we are expected to be. 

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Platform Capitalism by Nick Srnicek

The Blurb On The Back:

What unites Google and Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, Siemens and GE, Uber and Airbnb?  Across a wide range of sectors, these firms are turning into platforms: businesses that provide the hardware and software foundation for others to operate on.  This transformation signals a major shift in how capitalist firms operate and how they interact with the rest of the economy: the emergence of ‘platform capitalism’.

Platform Capitalism critically examines these new business forms, tracing their genesis from the long downturn of the 1970s to the boom and bust of the 1990s and the aftershocks of the 2008 crisis.  It shows how the foundations of the economy are rapidly being carved up among a small number of monopolistic platforms and how the platform introduces new tendencies within capitalism that pose significant challenges to any vision of a post-capitalist future.  This book will be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how the most powerful tech companies of our time are transforming the global economy. 

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Can The Internet Strengthen Democracy? by Stephen Coleman

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From its inception as a public communication network, the Internet was regarded by many people as a potential means of escaping from the stranglehold of top-down, stage-managed politics.  If hundreds of millions of people could be the producers as well as the receivers of political messages, could that invigorate democracy?  If political elites fail to respond to such energy, where will it leave them?

In this book, renowned scholar of political communication Stephen Coleman argues that the best way to strengthen democracy is to reinvent it for the twenty-first century.  Governments and global institutions have failed to seize the opportunity to democratize their ways of operating, but online citizens are ahead of them, developing practices that could revolutionize the exercise of political power. 

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Bad Choices: How Algorithms Can Help You Think Smarter And Live Happier by Ali Almossawi

The Blurb On The Back:

The secret recipe for modern success. 

Ali Almossawi’s first book Bad Arguments (“A flawless collection of flaws” Alice Roberts) was a cult hit all round the world.  In Bad Choices, he takes on algorithms, those perennially misunderstood principles that underlie so many of our everyday activities.  Taking us through twelve very funny, highly illustrated situations – from how we listen to music to finding every item on a shopping list as quickly as possible – Bad Choices explains how algorithms work and how to use them for yourself.

We all have an intuitive knack for solving problems, but can we use this ability to find items in logarithmic time?  Can we create cognitive stacks to cut down on errands?  Can we figure out which book we want to read next with link analysis?  Almossawai shows us how and once we recognise what makes a method faster and more efficient, we’ll all become more nimble, creative thinkers, ready to face new challenges.

Covering everything from maze-solving in Ancient Greece to the Two Ronnies, and from rapping in supermarkets to how Facebook predicts our likes, in opening algorithmic thinking to all readers Bad Choices shows us how to choose better – and live happier.

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