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How to Be Human in the Digital Economy (The\mit Press Ser.)

by Nicholas Agar

An argument in favor of finding a place for humans (and humanness) in the future digital economy.In the digital economy, accountants, baristas, and cashiers can be automated out of employment; so can surgeons, airline pilots, and cab drivers. Machines will be able to do these jobs more efficiently, accurately, and inexpensively. But, Nicholas Agar warns in this provocative book, these developments could result in a radically disempowered humanity.The digital revolution has brought us new gadgets and new things to do with them. The digital revolution also brings the digital economy, with machines capable of doing humans' jobs. Agar explains that developments in artificial intelligence enable computers to take over not just routine tasks but also the kind of “mind work” that previously relied on human intellect, and that this threatens human agency. The solution, Agar argues, is a hybrid social-digital economy. The key value of the digital economy is efficiency. The key value of the social economy is humanness.A social economy would be centered on connections between human minds. We should reject some digital automation because machines will always be poor substitutes for humans in roles that involve direct contact with other humans. A machine can count out pills and pour out coffee, but we want our nurses and baristas to have minds like ours. In a hybrid social-digital economy, people do the jobs for which feelings matter and machines take on data-intensive work. But humans will have to insist on their relevance in a digital age.

Here/There: Telepresence, Touch, and Art at the Interface (Leonardo)

by Kris Paulsen

An examination of telepresence technologies through the lens of contemporary artistic experiments, from early video art through current “drone vision” works."Telepresence” allows us to feel present—through vision, hearing, and even touch—at a remote location by means of real-time communication technology. Networked devices such as video cameras and telerobots extend our corporeal agency into distant spaces. In Here/There, Kris Paulsen examines telepresence technologies through the lens of contemporary artistic experiments, from early video art through current “drone vision” works. Paulsen traces an arc of increasing interactivity, as video screens became spaces for communication and physical, tactile intervention. She explores the work of artists who took up these technological tools and questioned the aesthetic, social, and ethical stakes of media that allow us to manipulate and affect far-off environments and other people—to touch, metaphorically and literally, those who cannot touch us back.Paulsen examines 1970s video artworks by Vito Acconci and Joan Jonas, live satellite performance projects by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, and CCTV installations by Chris Burden. These early works, she argues, can help us make sense of the expansion of our senses by technologies that privilege real time over real space and model strategies for engagement and interaction with mediated others. They establish a political, aesthetic, and technological history for later works using cable TV infrastructures and the World Wide Web, including telerobotic works by Ken Goldberg and Wafaa Bilal and artworks about military drones by Trevor Paglen, Omar Fast, Hito Steyerl, and others. These works become a meeting place for here and there.

Critical Code Studies: Initial Methods (Software Studies)

by Mark C. Marino

An argument that we must read code for more than what it does—we must consider what it means.Computer source code has become part of popular discourse. Code is read not only by programmers but by lawyers, artists, pundits, reporters, political activists, and literary scholars; it is used in political debate, works of art, popular entertainment, and historical accounts. In this book, Mark Marino argues that code means more than merely what it does; we must also consider what it means. We need to learn to read code critically. Marino presents a series of case studies—ranging from the Climategate scandal to a hactivist art project on the US-Mexico border—as lessons in critical code reading.Marino shows how, in the process of its circulation, the meaning of code changes beyond its functional role to include connotations and implications, opening it up to interpretation and inference—and misinterpretation and reappropriation. The Climategate controversy, for example, stemmed from a misreading of a bit of placeholder code as a “smoking gun” that supposedly proved fabrication of climate data. A poetry generator created by Nick Montfort was remixed and reimagined by other poets, and subject to literary interpretation.Each case study begins by presenting a small and self-contained passage of code—by coders as disparate as programming pioneer Grace Hopper and philosopher Friedrich Kittler—and an accessible explanation of its context and functioning. Marino then explores its extra-functional significance, demonstrating a variety of interpretive approaches.

Three Lectures on Post-Industrial Society

by Daniel Cohen

A noted economist analyzes the upheavals caused by revolutions in technology, labor, culture, financial markets, and globalization.In this pithy and provocative book, noted economist Daniel Cohen offers his analysis of the global shift to a post-industrial era. If it was once natural to speak of industrial society, Cohen writes, it is more difficult to speak meaningfully of post-industrial “society.” The solidarity that once lay at the heart of industrial society no longer exists. The different levels of large industrial enterprises have been systematically disassembled: tasks considered nonessential are assigned to subcontractors; engineers are grouped together in research sites, apart from the workers. Employees are left exposed while shareholders act to protect themselves. Never has the awareness that we all live in the same world been so strong—and never have the social conditions of existence been so unequal. In these wide-ranging reflections, Cohen describes the transformations that signaled the break between the industrial and the post-industrial eras. He links the revolution in information technology to the trend toward flatter hierarchies of workers with multiple skills—and connects the latter to work practices growing out of the culture of the May 1968 protests. Subcontracting and outsourcing have also changed the nature of work, and Cohen succinctly analyzes the new international division of labor, the economic rise of China, India, and the former Soviet Union, and the economic effects of free trade on poor countries. Finally, Cohen examines the fate of the European social model—with its traditional compromise between social justice and economic productivity—in a post-industrial world.

How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet (Information Policy)

by Benjamin Peters

How, despite thirty years of effort, Soviet attempts to build a national computer network were undone by socialists who seemed to behave like capitalists.Between 1959 and 1989, Soviet scientists and officials made numerous attempts to network their nation—to construct a nationwide computer network. None of these attempts succeeded, and the enterprise had been abandoned by the time the Soviet Union fell apart. Meanwhile, ARPANET, the American precursor to the Internet, went online in 1969. Why did the Soviet network, with top-level scientists and patriotic incentives, fail while the American network succeeded? In How Not to Network a Nation, Benjamin Peters reverses the usual cold war dualities and argues that the American ARPANET took shape thanks to well-managed state subsidies and collaborative research environments and the Soviet network projects stumbled because of unregulated competition among self-interested institutions, bureaucrats, and others. The capitalists behaved like socialists while the socialists behaved like capitalists. After examining the midcentury rise of cybernetics, the science of self-governing systems, and the emergence in the Soviet Union of economic cybernetics, Peters complicates this uneasy role reversal while chronicling the various Soviet attempts to build a “unified information network.” Drawing on previously unknown archival and historical materials, he focuses on the final, and most ambitious of these projects, the All-State Automated System of Management (OGAS), and its principal promoter, Viktor M. Glushkov. Peters describes the rise and fall of OGAS—its theoretical and practical reach, its vision of a national economy managed by network, the bureaucratic obstacles it encountered, and the institutional stalemate that killed it. Finally, he considers the implications of the Soviet experience for today's networked world.

The Shadows of Consumption: Consequences for the Global Environment (The\mit Press Ser.)

by Peter Dauvergne

An environmentalist maps the hidden costs of overconsumption in a globalized world by tracing the environmental consequences of five commodities.The Shadows of Consumption gives a hard-hitting diagnosis: many of the earth's ecosystems and billions of its people are at risk from the consequences of rising consumption. Products ranging from cars to hamburgers offer conveniences and pleasures; but, as Peter Dauvergne makes clear, global political and economic processes displace the real costs of consumer goods into distant ecosystems, communities, and timelines, tipping into crisis people and places without the power to resist. In The Shadows of Consumption, Peter Dauvergne maps the costs of consumption that remain hidden in the shadows cast by globalized corporations, trade, and finance. Dauvergne traces the environmental consequences of five commodities: automobiles, gasoline, refrigerators, beef, and harp seals. In these fascinating histories we learn, for example, that American officials ignored warnings about the dangers of lead in gasoline in the 1920s; why China is now a leading producer of CFC-free refrigerators; and how activists were able to stop Canada's commercial seal hunt in the 1980s (but are unable to do so now). Dauvergne's innovative analysis allows us to see why so many efforts to manage the global environment are failing even as environmentalism is slowly strengthening. He proposes a guiding principle of “balanced consumption” for both consumers and corporations. We know that we can make things better by driving a high-mileage car, eating locally grown food, and buying energy-efficient appliances; but these improvements are incremental, local, and insufficient. More crucial than our individual efforts to reuse and recycle will be reforms in the global political economy to reduce the inequalities of consumption and correct the imbalance between growing economies and environmental sustainability.

The Cognitive Science of Science: Explanation, Discovery, and Conceptual Change (Handbook Of The Philosophy Of Science Ser.)

by Paul Thagard

A cognitive science perspective on scientific development, drawing on philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and computational modeling.Many disciplines, including philosophy, history, and sociology, have attempted to make sense of how science works. In this book, Paul Thagard examines scientific development from the interdisciplinary perspective of cognitive science. Cognitive science combines insights from researchers in many fields: philosophers analyze historical cases, psychologists carry out behavioral experiments, neuroscientists perform brain scans, and computer modelers write programs that simulate thought processes.Thagard develops cognitive perspectives on the nature of explanation, mental models, theory choice, and resistance to scientific change, considering disbelief in climate change as a case study. He presents a series of studies that describe the psychological and neural processes that have led to breakthroughs in science, medicine, and technology. He shows how discoveries of new theories and explanations lead to conceptual change, with examples from biology, psychology, and medicine. Finally, he shows how the cognitive science of science can integrate descriptive and normative concerns; and he considers the neural underpinnings of certain scientific concepts.

Thieves of Virtue: When Bioethics Stole Medicine (Basic Bioethics)

by Tom Koch

An argument against the “lifeboat ethic” of contemporary bioethics that views medicine as a commodity rather than a tradition of care and caring.Bioethics emerged in the 1960s from a conviction that physicians and researchers needed the guidance of philosophers in handling the issues raised by technological advances in medicine. It blossomed as a response to the perceived doctor-knows-best paternalism of the traditional medical ethic and today plays a critical role in health policies and treatment decisions. Bioethics claimed to offer a set of generally applicable, universally accepted guidelines that would simplify complex situations. In Thieves of Virtue, Tom Koch contends that bioethics has failed to deliver on its promises. Instead, he argues, bioethics has promoted a view of medicine as a commodity whose delivery is predicated not on care but on economic efficiency.At the heart of bioethics, Koch writes, is a “lifeboat ethic” that assumes “scarcity” of medical resources is a natural condition rather than the result of prior economic, political, and social choices. The idea of natural scarcity requiring ethical triage signaled a shift in ethical emphasis from patient care and the physician's responsibility for it to neoliberal accountancies and the promotion of research as the preeminent good. The solution to the failure of bioethics is not a new set of simplistic principles. Koch points the way to a transformed medical ethics that is humanist, responsible, and defensible.

The Systemic Image: A New Theory of Interactive Real-Time Simulations (The\mit Press Ser.)

by Inge Hinterwaldner

A new conceptualization of the relationship between the systemic and the iconic in real-time simulations that distinguishes among four levels of forming.Computer simulations conceive objects and situations dynamically, in their changes and progressions. In The Systemic Image, Inge Hinterwaldner considers not only the technical components of dynamic computer simulations but also the sensory aspects of the realization. Examining the optic, the acoustic, the tactile, and the sensorimotor impressions that interactive real-time simulations provide, she finds that iconicity plays a dominant yet unexpected role. Based on this, and close readings of a series of example works, Hinterwaldner offers a new conceptualization of the relationship between systemic configuration and the iconic aspects in these calculated complexes.Hinterwaldner discusses specifications of sensorialization, necessary to make the simulation dynamic perceivable. Interweaving iconicity with simulation, she explores the expressive possibilities that can be achieved under the condition of continuously calculated explicit changes. She distinguishes among four levels of forming: the systems perspective, as a process and schema that establishes the most general framework of simulations; the mathematical model, which marks off the boundaries of the simulation's actualization; the iconization and its orientation toward the user; and interaction design, necessary for the full unfolding of the simulation. The user makes manifest what is initially latent. Viewing the simulation as an interface, Hinterwaldner argues that not only does the sensorially designed aspect of the simulation seduce the user but the user also makes an impact on the simulation—on the dynamic and perhaps on the iconization, although not on the perspectivation. The influence is reciprocal.

How Smart Machines Think (The\mit Press Ser.)

by Sean Gerrish

Everything you've always wanted to know about self-driving cars, Netflix recommendations, IBM's Watson, and video game-playing computer programs.The future is here: Self-driving cars are on the streets, an algorithm gives you movie and TV recommendations, IBM's Watson triumphed on Jeopardy over puny human brains, computer programs can be trained to play Atari games. But how do all these things work? In this book, Sean Gerrish offers an engaging and accessible overview of the breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and machine learning that have made today's machines so smart.Gerrish outlines some of the key ideas that enable intelligent machines to perceive and interact with the world. He describes the software architecture that allows self-driving cars to stay on the road and to navigate crowded urban environments; the million-dollar Netflix competition for a better recommendation engine (which had an unexpected ending); and how programmers trained computers to perform certain behaviors by offering them treats, as if they were training a dog. He explains how artificial neural networks enable computers to perceive the world—and to play Atari video games better than humans. He explains Watson's famous victory on Jeopardy, and he looks at how computers play games, describing AlphaGo and Deep Blue, which beat reigning world champions at the strategy games of Go and chess. Computers have not yet mastered everything, however; Gerrish outlines the difficulties in creating intelligent agents that can successfully play video games like StarCraft that have evaded solution—at least for now. Gerrish weaves the stories behind these breakthroughs into the narrative, introducing readers to many of the researchers involved, and keeping technical details to a minimum. Science and technology buffs will find this book an essential guide to a future in which machines can outsmart people.

Who Wins in a Digital World?: Strategies to Make Your Organization Fit for the Future (The Digital Future of Management)

by MIT Sloan Management Review

How organizations can adapt to a constantly changing business environment by being flexible but focused, embracing change, and moving fast.In the new digital world, the unknowns are never-ending. Our ability to embrace the demands of change has become a prerequisite for success. It's not easy. We don't work the way we did last year. Next year, it will all change again. If an organization doesn't embrace the realities of change, it will be under siege from those that do. Who Wins in a Digital World explains how organizations can adapt to a constantly changing business environment by being flexible but focused, embracing change in all its messiness, and moving fast.In articles that originally appeared in MIT Sloan Management Review, experts from business and academia discuss digital adaptability, explaining how both organizations and individuals need the ability to excel in what their roles will become as technology and their competitive ecosystem evolve. They highlight strategies and mindsets that can foster change, including boldness in the face of digitization, a focus on collaboration, and an artificial intelligence game plan. And they explore the need for speed, with one contributor declaring: “Implement first, ask questions later (or not at all).” Once an organization accepts the fact that technological change is ongoing and inevitable, it becomes more about opportunity and less about challenge. This book shows that change can be stimulating, exhilarating, and something to be welcomed.ContributorsStephen J. Andriole, Jacques Bughin, Thomas H. Davenport, Nathan Furr, Lynn J. Good, David Kiron, Edward E. Lawler III, Vikram Mahidhar, Paul Michelman, Jeanne Ross, Paul J. H. Schoemaker, Andrew Shipilov, Charles Sull, Donald Sull, Philip E. Tetlock, Stefano Turconi, Nicolas van Zeebroeck, Peter Weill, Thomas Williams, Stephanie L. Woerner, Christopher G. Worley, James Yoder

Open Minds: The Social Making of Agency and Intentionality (The\mit Press Ser.)

by Wolfgang Prinz

A novel proposal that the cognitive architecture for volition and cognition arises from particular kinds of social interaction and communication.In Open Minds, Wolfgang Prinz offers the novel claim that agency and intentionality are first perceived and understood in others, and that it is only through practices and discourses of social mirroring that individuals come to apply these features to themselves and to shape their architectures for volition and cognition accordingly. Developing a (social science) constructive approach within a (cognitive science) representational framework, Prinz argues that the architectures for agency (volition) and intentionality (cognition) arise from particular kinds of social interaction and communication. Rather than working as closed, individual systems, our minds operate in ways that are fundamentally open to other minds.Prinz describes mirror systems and mirror games, particular kinds of representational mechanisms and social games that provide tools for aligning closed individual minds with other minds. He maps the formation of an architecture for volition, addressing issues of agency and intention-based top-down control, then outlines the ways the same basic ideas can be applied to an architecture for cognition, helping to solve basic issues of subjectivity and intentionality.Addressing the reality and efficacy of such social artifacts as autonomy and free will, Prinz contends that our beliefs about minds are not just beliefs about their workings but powerful tools for making them work as we believe. It is through our beliefs that our minds work in a particular way that we actually make them work in that way.

Energy at the End of the World: An Orkney Islands Saga (Infrastructures)

by Laura Watts

Making local energy futures, from marine energy to hydrogen fuel, at the edge of the world.The islands of Orkney, off the northern coast of Scotland, are closer to the Arctic Circle than to London. Surrounded by fierce seas and shrouded by clouds and mist, the islands seem to mark the edge of the known world. And yet they are a center for energy technology innovation, from marine energy to hydrogen fuel networks, attracting the interest of venture capitalists and local communities. In this book, Laura Watts tells a story of making energy futures at the edge of the world. Orkney, Watts tells us, has been making technology for six thousand years, from arrowheads and stone circles to wave and tide energy prototypes. Artifacts and traces of all the ages—Stone, Bronze, Iron, Viking, Silicon—are visible everywhere. The islanders turned to energy innovation when forced to contend with an energy infrastructure they had outgrown. Today, Orkney is home to the European Marine Energy Centre, established in 2003. There are about forty open-sea marine energy test facilities in the world, many of which draw on Orkney expertise. The islands generate more renewable energy than they use, are growing hydrogen fuel and electric car networks, and have hundreds of locally owned micro wind turbines and a decade-old smart grid. Mixing storytelling and ethnography, empiricism and lyricism, Watts tells an Orkney energy saga—an account of how the islands are creating their own low-carbon future in the face of the seemingly impossible. The Orkney Islands, Watts shows, are playing a long game, making energy futures for another six thousand years.

Sympathy for the Traitor: A Translation Manifesto (The\mit Press Ser.)

by Mark Polizzotti

An engaging and unabashedly opinionated examination of what translation is and isn't.For some, translation is the poor cousin of literature, a necessary evil if not an outright travesty—summed up by the old Italian play on words, traduttore, traditore (translator, traitor). For others, translation is the royal road to cross-cultural understanding and literary enrichment. In this nuanced and provocative study, Mark Polizzotti attempts to reframe the debate along more fruitful lines. Eschewing both these easy polarities and the increasingly abstract discourse of translation theory, he brings the main questions into clearer focus: What is the ultimate goal of a translation? What does it mean to label a rendering “faithful”? (Faithful to what?) Is something inevitably lost in translation, and can something also be gained? Does translation matter, and if so, why? Unashamedly opinionated, both a manual and a manifesto, his book invites usto sympathize with the translator not as a “traitor” but as the author's creative partner.Polizzotti, himself a translator of authors from Patrick Modiano to Gustave Flaubert, explores what translation is and what it isn't, and how it does or doesn't work. Translation, he writes, “skirts the boundaries between art and craft, originality and replication, altruism and commerce, genius and hack work.” In Sympathy for the Traitor, he shows us how to read not only translations but also the act of translation itself, treating it not as a problem to be solved but as an achievement to be celebrated—something, as Goethe put it, “impossible, necessary, and important.”

The Outer Limits of Reason: What Science, Mathematics, and Logic Cannot Tell Us

by Noson S. Yanofsky

An exploration of the scientific limits of knowledge that challenges our deep-seated beliefs about our universe, our rationality, and ourselves.Many books explain what is known about the universe. This book investigates what cannot be known. Rather than exploring the amazing facts that science, mathematics, and reason have revealed to us, this work studies what science, mathematics, and reason tell us cannot be revealed. In The Outer Limits of Reason, Noson Yanofsky considers what cannot be predicted, described, or known, and what will never be understood. He discusses the limitations of computers, physics, logic, and our own thought processes.Yanofsky describes simple tasks that would take computers trillions of centuries to complete and other problems that computers can never solve; perfectly formed English sentences that make no sense; different levels of infinity; the bizarre world of the quantum; the relevance of relativity theory; the causes of chaos theory; math problems that cannot be solved by normal means; and statements that are true but cannot be proven. He explains the limitations of our intuitions about the world—our ideas about space, time, and motion, and the complex relationship between the knower and the known.Moving from the concrete to the abstract, from problems of everyday language to straightforward philosophical questions to the formalities of physics and mathematics, Yanofsky demonstrates a myriad of unsolvable problems and paradoxes. Exploring the various limitations of our knowledge, he shows that many of these limitations have a similar pattern and that by investigating these patterns, we can better understand the structure and limitations of reason itself. Yanofsky even attempts to look beyond the borders of reason to see what, if anything, is out there.

Finding Our Place in the Universe: How We Discovered Laniakea#the Milky Way's Home (The\mit Press Ser.)

by Helene Courtois

How a team of researchers, led by the author, discovered our home galaxy's location in the universe.You are here: on Earth, which is part of the solar system, which is in the Milky Way galaxy, which itself is within the extragalactic supercluster Laniakea. And how can we pinpoint our location so precisely? For twenty years, astrophysicist Hélène Courtois surfed the cosmos with international teams of researchers, working to map our local universe. In this book, Courtois describes this quest and the discovery of our home supercluster.Courtois explains that Laniakea (which means “immense heaven” in Hawaiian) is the largest galaxy structure known to which we belong; it is huge, almost too large to comprehend—about five hundred million light-years in diameter. It contains about 100,000 large galaxies like our own, and a million smaller ones. Writing accessibly for nonspecialists, Courtois describes the visualization and analysis that allowed her team to map such large structures of the universe. She highlights the work of individual researchers, including portraits of several exceptional women astrophysicists—presenting another side of astronomy. Key ideas are highlighted in text insets; illustrations accompany the main text.The French edition of this book was named the Best Astronomy Book of 2017 by the astronomy magazine Ciel et espace. For this MIT Press English-language edition, Courtois has added descriptions of discoveries made after Laniakea: the cosmic velocity web and the Dipole and Cold Spot repellers. An engaging account of one of the most important discoveries in astrophysics in recent years, her story is a tribute to teamwork and international collaboration.

Impossible Languages: The Brain And The Enigma Of Impossible Languages (The\mit Press Ser. #46)

by Andrea Moro

An investigation into the possibility of impossible languages, searching for the indelible “fingerprint” of human language.Can there be such a thing as an impossible human language? A biologist could describe an impossible animal as one that goes against the physical laws of nature (entropy, for example, or gravity). Are there any such laws that constrain languages? In this book, Andrea Moro—a distinguished linguist and neuroscientist—investigates the possibility of impossible languages, searching, as he does so, for the indelible “fingerprint” of human language.Moro shows how the very notion of impossible languages has helped shape research on the ultimate aim of linguistics: to define the class of possible human languages. He takes us beyond the boundaries of Babel, to the set of properties that, despite appearances, all languages share, and explores the sources of that order, drawing on scientific experiments he himself helped design. Moro compares syntax to the reverse side of a tapestry revealing a hidden and apparently intricate structure. He describes the brain as a sieve, considers the reality of (linguistic) trees, and listens for the sound of thought by recording electrical activity in the brain. Words and sentences, he tells us, are like symphonies and constellations: they have no content of their own; they exist because we listen to them and look at them. We are part of the data.

Perspectives in Space Surveillance (MIT Lincoln Laboratory Series)

by Ramaswamy Sridharan Antonio Pensa

The development of deep space surveillance technology and its later application to near-Earth surveillance, covering work at Lincoln Laboratory from 1970 to 2000.In the 1950s, the United States and the Soviet Union raced to develop space-based intelligence gathering capability. The Soviets succeeded first, with SPUTNIK I in 1957. The United States began to monitor the growing Soviet space presence by developing technology for the detection and tracking of man-made resident space objects (RSOs) in near-Earth orbit. In 1972, the Soviet Union launched a satellite into deep space orbit, and the U.S. government called on MIT Lincoln Laboratory to develop deep space surveillance technology. This book describes these developments, as well as the later application of deep space surveillance technology to near-Earth surveillance, covering work at Lincoln Laboratory on space surveillance from 1970 to 2000.The contributors, all key participants in developing these technologies, discuss topics that include narrow beam, narrow bandwidth radar for deep surveillance; wide bandwidth radar for RSO monitoring; ground-based electro-optical deep space surveillance and its adaptation for space-based surveillance; radar as the means of real-time search and discovery techniques; methods of analyses of signature data from narrow bandwidth radars; and the collision hazard for satellites in geosynchronous orbit, stemming initially from the failure of TELSTAR 401. They also describe some unintended byproducts of this pioneering work, including the use of optical space surveillance techniques for near-Earth asteroid detection. ContributorsRick Abbott, Robert Bergemann, E.M. Gaposchkin, Israel Kupiec, Richard Lambour, Antonio F. Pensa, Eugene Rork, Jayant Sharma, Craig Solodyna, Ramaswamy Sridharan, J. Scott Stuart, George Zollinger

Bark (The\mit Press Ser.)

by Georges Didi-Huberman

A noted French thinker's poignant reflections, in words and photographs, on his visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.On a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Georges Didi-Huberman tears three pieces of bark from birch trees on the edge of the site. Looking at these pieces after his return home, he sees them as letters, a flood, a path, time, memory, flesh. The bark serves as a springboard to Didi-Huberman's meditations on his visit, recorded in this spare, poetic, and powerful book. Bark is a personal account, drawing not on the theoretical apparatus of scholarship but on Didi-Huberman's own history, memory, and knowledge. The text proceeds as a series of reflections, accompanied by Didi-Huberman's photographs of the visit. The photographs are not meant to be art—Didi-Huberman confesses that he “photographed practically everything without looking”—but approach it nevertheless. Didi-Huberman tells us that his grandparents died at Auschwitz, but his account is more universal than biographical. As he walks from place to place, he observes that in German birches are birken; Birkenau designates the meadow where the birches grow. Didi-Huberman sees and photographs the “reconstructed” execution wall; the floors of the crematorium, forgotten witnesses to killing; and the birch trees, lovely but also resembling prison bars. Taking his own photographs, he thinks of the famous photographs taken in 1944 by a member of the Sonderkommando, the only photographic documentation of the camp before the Germans destroyed it, hoping to hide the evidence of their crimes. Didi-Huberman notices a “bizarre proliferation of white flowers on the exact spot of the cremation pits.” The dead are not departed.

Turing's Vision: The Birth of Computer Science

by Chris Bernhardt

Turing's fascinating and remarkable theory, which now forms the basis of computer science, explained for the general reader.In 1936, when he was just twenty-four years old, Alan Turing wrote a remarkable paper in which he outlined the theory of computation, laying out the ideas that underlie all modern computers. This groundbreaking and powerful theory now forms the basis of computer science. In Turing's Vision, Chris Bernhardt explains the theory, Turing's most important contribution, for the general reader. Bernhardt argues that the strength of Turing's theory is its simplicity, and that, explained in a straightforward manner, it is eminently understandable by the nonspecialist. As Marvin Minsky writes, “The sheer simplicity of the theory's foundation and extraordinary short path from this foundation to its logical and surprising conclusions give the theory a mathematical beauty that alone guarantees it a permanent place in computer theory.” Bernhardt begins with the foundation and systematically builds to the surprising conclusions. He also views Turing's theory in the context of mathematical history, other views of computation (including those of Alonzo Church), Turing's later work, and the birth of the modern computer.In the paper, “On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem,” Turing thinks carefully about how humans perform computation, breaking it down into a sequence of steps, and then constructs theoretical machines capable of performing each step. Turing wanted to show that there were problems that were beyond any computer's ability to solve; in particular, he wanted to find a decision problem that he could prove was undecidable. To explain Turing's ideas, Bernhardt examines three well-known decision problems to explore the concept of undecidability; investigates theoretical computing machines, including Turing machines; explains universal machines; and proves that certain problems are undecidable, including Turing's problem concerning computable numbers.

Architects' Gravesites: A Serendipitous Guide (The\mit Press Ser.)

by Henry H. Kuehn

An illustrated guide to the monumental and non-monumental final resting places of famous architects from Aalto Alvar to Frank Lloyd Wright.All working architects leave behind a string of monuments to themselves in the form of buildings they have designed. But what about the final spaces that architects themselves will occupy? Are architects' gravesites more monumental—more architectural—than others? This unique book provides an illustrated guide to more than 200 gravesites of famous architects, almost all of them in the United States. Led by our intrepid author, Henry Kuehn, we find that most graves of architects are not monumental but rather modest, that many architects did not design their final resting places, and that a surprising number had their ashes scattered.Architects' Gravesites offers an alphabetical listing, from Alvar Aalto and Dankmar Adler (Louis Sullivan's partner) to Frank Lloyd Wright and Minoru Yamasaki (designer of the Word Trade Center's twin towers). Each entry includes a brief note on the architect's career and a color photograph of the site. For example, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is buried in Chicago under a simple granite slab designed by his architect grandson; Louise Bethune, the first American woman to become a professional architect, is buried under a headstone inscribed only with her husband's name (a plaque honoring her achievements was installed later); Philip Johnson's ashes were spread in his rose garden, with no marker, across the street from his famous Glass House; and the grave of Pierre L'Enfant in Arlington National Cemetery offers a breathtaking view of Washington, D.C., the city he designed. Architects' Gravesites is an architectural guide like no other, revealing as much about mortality as about monumentality.

The Artist in the Machine: The World of AI-Powered Creativity (The\mit Press Ser.)

by Arthur I. Miller

An authority on creativity introduces us to AI-powered computers that are creating art, literature, and music that may well surpass the creations of humans.Today's computers are composing music that sounds “more Bach than Bach,” turning photographs into paintings in the style of Van Gogh's Starry Night, and even writing screenplays. But are computers truly creative—or are they merely tools to be used by musicians, artists, and writers? In this book, Arthur I. Miller takes us on a tour of creativity in the age of machines. Miller, an authority on creativity, identifies the key factors essential to the creative process, from “the need for introspection” to “the ability to discover the key problem.” He talks to people on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence, encountering computers that mimic the brain and machines that have defeated champions in chess, Jeopardy!, and Go. In the central part of the book, Miller explores the riches of computer-created art, introducing us to artists and computer scientists who have, among much else, unleashed an artificial neural network to create a nightmarish, multi-eyed dog-cat; taught AI to imagine; developed a robot that paints; created algorithms for poetry; and produced the world's first computer-composed musical, Beyond the Fence, staged by Android Lloyd Webber and friends.But, Miller writes, in order to be truly creative, machines will need to step into the world. He probes the nature of consciousness and speaks to researchers trying to develop emotions and consciousness in computers. Miller argues that computers can already be as creative as humans—and someday will surpass us. But this is not a dystopian account; Miller celebrates the creative possibilities of artificial intelligence in art, music, and literature.

Paid: Tales of Dongles, Checks, and Other Money Stuff (Infrastructures)

by Bill Maurer Lana Swartz

Stories about objects left in the wake of transactions, from cryptocurrencies to leaf-imprinted banknotes to records kept with knotted string.Museums are full of the coins, notes, beads, shells, stones, and other objects people have exchanged for millennia. But what about the debris, the things that allow a transaction to take place and are left in its wake? How would a museum go about curating our scrawls on electronic keypads, the receipts wadded in our wallets, that vast information infrastructure that runs the card networks? This book is a catalog for a museum exhibition that never happened. It offers a series of short essays, paired with striking images, on these often ephemeral, invisible, or unnoticed transactional objects—money stuff.Although we've been told for years that we're heading toward total cashlessness, payment is increasingly dependent on things. Consider, for example, the dongle, a clever gizmo that processes card payments by turning information from a card's magnetic stripe into audio information that can be read by a smart phone's headphone jack. Or dogecoin, a meme of a smiling, bewildered dog's interior monologue that fueled a virtual currency similar to Bitcoin. Or go further back and contemplate the paper currency printed with leaves by Benjamin Franklin to foil counterfeiters, or khipu, Incan records kept in knotted string.Paid's authors describe these payment-adjacent objects so engagingly that for a moment, financial leftovers seem more interesting than finance. Paid encourages us to take a moment to look at the nuts and bolts of our everyday transactions by looking at the stuff that surrounds them.ContributorsBernardo Bátiz-Lazo, Maria Bezaitis, Finn Brunton, Lynn H. Gamble, David Graeber, Jane I. Guyer, Keith Hart, Sarah Jeong, Alexandra Lippman, Julien Mailland, Scott Mainwaring, Bill Maurer, Taylor C. Nelms, Rachel O'Dwyer, Michael Palm, Lisa Servon, David L. Stearns, Bruce Sterling, Lana Swartz, Whitney Anne Trettien, Gary Urton

Spontaneous Venturing: An Entrepreneurial Approach to Alleviating Suffering in the Aftermath of a Disaster (The\mit Press Ser.)

by Dean A. Shepherd Trenton A. Williams

Identifying a new approach to disaster response: spontaneous, compassionate, and impromptu actions to alleviate suffering.In Spontaneous Venturing, Dean Shepherd and Trenton Williams identify and describe a new approach for responding to disaster and suffering: the local organizing of spontaneous, compassionate, and impromptu actions—the rapid emergence of a compassionate venture. This approach, termed by the authors “spontaneous venturing,” can be more effective than the traditional “command-and-control” methods of large disaster relief organizations. It can customize and target resources and deliver them quickly, helping victims almost immediately. For example, during the catastrophic 2009 bushfires in Victoria, Australia—the focal disaster for the book—residents organized an impromptu relief center that collected and distributed urgently needed goods without red tape. Special bonds and friendships formed among the volunteers and victims; some were both volunteer and victim. Many victims were able to mobilize resources despite considerable personal losses.Shepherd and Williams describe the lasting impact of disaster and tell the stories of Victoria residents who organized in the aftermath of the bushfires. They consider the limitations of traditional disaster relief efforts and explain that when victims take action to help others, they develop behavioral, emotional, and assumptive resilience; venturing leads to social interaction, community connections, and other positive outcomes. Finally, they explore spontaneous venturing in a less-developed country, investigating the activities of Haitians after the devastating 2010 earthquake. The lesson for communities hit by disaster: find opportunities for compassionate action.

In 100 Years: Leading Economists Predict the Future (The\mit Press Ser.)

by Ignacio Palacios-Huerta

In this book, ten prominent economists—including Nobel laureates and several likely laureates—offer their ideas about what the future might hold in 100 years.This pithy and engaging volume shows that economists may be better equipped to predict the future than science fiction writers. Economists' ideas, based on both theory and practice, reflect their knowledge of the laws of human interactions as well as years of experimentation and reflection. Although perhaps not as screenplay-ready as a work of fiction, these economists' predictions are ready for their close-ups. In this book, ten prominent economists—including Nobel laureates and several likely laureates—offer their ideas about the world of the twenty-second century.In scenarios that range from the optimistic to the guardedly gloomy, these thinkers consider such topics as the transformation of work and wages, the continuing increase in inequality, the economic rise of China and India, the endlessly repeating cycle of crisis and (projected) recovery, the benefits of technology, the economic consequences of political extremism, and the long-range effects of climate change. For example, 2013 Nobelist Robert Shiller provides an innovative view of future risk management methods using information technology; and Martin Weitzman raises the intriguing but alarming possibility of using geoengineering techniques to mitigate the inevitable effects of climate change.Contributors Daron Acemoglu, Angus Deaton, Avinash K. Dixit, Edward L. Glaeser, Andreu Mas-Colell, John E. Roemer, Alvin E. Roth, Robert J. Shiller, Robert M. Solow, Martin L. Weitzman

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