The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches UsAbout Being Alive
Each year, the AI community convenes to administer the famous (and famously controversial) Turing test, pitting sophisticated software programs against humans to determine if a computer can “think.” The machine that most often fools the judges wins the Most Human Computer Award. But there is also a prize, strange and intriguing, for the “Most Human Human.” Brian Christian—a young poet with degrees in computer science and philosophy—was chosen to participate in a recent competition. This playful, profound book is not only a testament to his efforts to be deemed more human than a computer, but also a rollicking exploration of what it means to be human in the first place.
Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization
Immortality investigates whether it just might be possible to live forever and whether we should want to. But it also makes a powerful argument, which is that it’s our very preoccupation with defying mortality that drives civilization. Central to Stephen Cave's book is the metaphor of a mountaintop where one can find the Immortals. Since the dawn of humanity, everyone – whether they know it or not – has been trying to climb that mountain. But there are only four paths up its treacherous slope, and there have only ever been four paths. Throughout history, people have wagered everything on their choice of the correct path, and fought wars against those who’ve chosen differently.
Darwin's Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution
Darwin’s Ghosts tells the story of the collective discovery of evolution, from Aristotle, walking the shores of Lesbos with his pupils, to Al-Jahiz, an Arab writer in the first century, from Leonardo da Vinci, searching for fossils in the mine shafts of the Tuscan hills, to Denis Diderot in Paris, exploring the origins of species while under the surveillance of the secret police, and the brilliant naturalists of the Jardin de Plantes, finding evidence for evolutionary change in the natural history collections stolen during the Napoleonic wars. Evolution was not discovered single-handedly, Rebecca Stott argues, contrary to what has become standard lore, but is an idea that emerged over many centuries, advanced by daring individuals across the globe who had the imagination to speculate on nature’s extraordinary ways, and who had the courage to articulate such speculations at a time when to do so was often considered heresy.
Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe
This groundbreaking book presents a new perspective on three of cosmology’s essential questions: What came before the Big Bang? What is the source of order in our universe? And what cosmic future awaits us? Penrose shows how the expected fate of our ever-accelerating and expanding universe—heat death or ultimate entropy—can actually be reinterpreted as the conditions that will begin a new “Big Bang.” He details the basic principles beneath our universe, explaining various standard and non-standard cosmological models, the fundamental role of the cosmic microwave background, the paramount significance of black holes, and other basic building blocks of contemporary physics.
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