How developments in science and technology may enable the emergence of purely digital minds -- intelligent machines equal to or greater in power than the human brain. What do computers, cells, and brains have in common? Computers are electronic devices designed by humans; cells are biological entities crafted by evolution; brains are the containers and creators of our minds. But all are, in one way or another, information-processing devices. The power of the human brain is, so far, unequaled by any existing machine or known living being. Over eons of evolution, the brain has enabled us to develop tools and technology to make our lives easier. Our brains have even allowed us to develop computers that are almost as powerful as the human brain itself. In this book, Arlindo Oliveira describes how advances in science and technology could enable us to create digital minds. Exponential growth is a pattern built deep into the scheme of life, but technological change now promises to outstrip even evolutionary change. Oliveira describes technological and scientific advances that range from the discovery of laws that control the behavior of the electromagnetic fields to the development of computers. He calls natural selection the ultimate algorithm, discusses genetics and the evolution of the central nervous system, and describes the role that computer imaging has played in understanding and modeling the brain. Having considered the behavior of the unique system that creates a mind, he turns to an unavoidable question: Is the human brain the only system that can host a mind? If digital minds come into existence -- and, Oliveira says, it is difficult to argue that they will not -- what are the social, legal, and ethical implications? Will digital minds be our partners, or our rivals?
What do computers, cells, and brains have in common? Computers are electronic devices designed by humans; cells are biological entities crafted by evolution; brains are the containers and creators of our minds. But all are, in one way or another, information-processing devices. The power of the human brain is, so far, unequaled by any existing machine or known living being. Over eons of evolution, the brain has enabled us to develop tools and technology to make our lives easier. Our brains have even allowed us to develop computers that are almost as powerful as the human brain itself. In this book, Arlindo Oliveira describes how advances in science and technology could enable us to create digital minds. Exponential growth is a pattern built deep into the scheme of life, but technological change now promises to outstrip even evolutionary change. Oliveira describes technological and scientific advances that range from the discovery of laws that control the behavior of the electromagnetic fields to the development of computers. He calls natural selection the ultimate algorithm, discusses genetics and the evolution of the central nervous system, and describes the role that computer imaging has played in understanding and modeling the brain. Having considered the behavior of the unique system that creates a mind, he turns to an unavoidable question: Is the human brain the only system that can host a mind? If digital minds come into existence -- and, Oliveira says, it is difficult to argue that they will not -- what are the social, legal, and ethical implications? Will digital minds be our partners, or our rivals?
Author: Anne Burdick,Johanna Drucker,Peter Lunenfeld,Todd Presner,Jeffrey Schnapp
Publisher: MIT Press
Category: Social Science
Digital_Humanities is a compact, game-changing report on the state of contemporary knowledge production. Answering the question "What is digital humanities?," it provides an in-depth examination of an emerging field. This collaboratively authored and visually compelling volume explores methodologies and techniques unfamiliar to traditional modes of humanistic inquiry -- including geospatial analysis, data mining, corpus linguistics, visualization, and simulation -- to show their relevance for contemporary culture. Written by five leading practitioner-theorists whose varied backgrounds embody the intellectual and creative diversity of the field, Digital_Humanities is a vision statement for the future, an invitation to engage, and a critical tool for understanding the shape of new scholarship.
In The Second Self, Sherry Turkle looks at the computer not as a "tool," but as part of our social and psychological lives; she looks beyond how we use computer games and spreadsheets to explore how the computer affects our awareness of ourselves, of one another, and of our relationship with the world. "Technology," she writes, "catalyzes changes not only in what we do but in how we think." First published in 1984, The Second Self is still essential reading as a primer in the psychology of computation. This twentieth anniversary edition allows us to reconsider two decades of computer culture -- to (re)experience what was and is most novel in our new media culture and to view our own contemporary relationship with technology with fresh eyes. Turkle frames this classic work with a new introduction, a new epilogue, and extensive notes added to the original text.Turkle talks to children, college students, engineers, AI scientists, hackers, and personal computer owners -- people confronting machines that seem to think and at the same time suggest a new way for us to think -- about human thought, emotion, memory, and understanding. Her interviews reveal that we experience computers as being on the border between inanimate and animate, as both an extension of the self and part of the external world. Their special place betwixt and between traditional categories is part of what makes them compelling and evocative. (In the introduction to this edition, Turkle quotes a PDA user as saying, "When my Palm crashed, it was like a death. I thought I had lost my mind.") Why we think of the workings of a machine in psychological terms -- how this happens, and what it means for all of us -- is the ever more timely subject of The Second Self.
The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together
Author: Thomas W. Malone
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
There are new kinds of intelligence forming in the twenty-first century. Computers are beginning to teach themselves with spectacular results. But in our excitement over the promise of neural networks and deep learning, we have neglected the most important development of all: collective intelligence. Superminds – groups of people and computers together – can act more intelligently than any person, group, or computer has ever done before. They already make many of our most important decisions, whether through the hierarchy of a multinational company or the democracy of a nation state. And they will do a lot more. Groundbreaking and utterly fascinating, this book will change how you think, now and in the future.
How global biotechnology is redefining "life itself." In the age of global biotechnology, DNA can exist as biological material in a test tube, as a sequence in a computer database, and as economically valuable information in a patent. In The Global Genome, Eugene Thacker asks us to consider the relationship of these three entities and argues that—by their existence and their interrelationships—they are fundamentally redefining the notion of biological life itself. Biological science and the biotech industry are increasingly organized at a global level, in large part because of the use of the Internet in exchanging biological data. International genome sequencing efforts, genomic databases, the development of World Intellectual Property policies, and the "borderless" business of biotech are all evidence of the global intersections of biology and informatics—of genetic codes and computer codes. Thacker points out the internal tension in the very concept of biotechnology: the products are more "tech" than "bio," but the technology itself is fully biological, composed of the biomaterial labor of genes, proteins, cells, and tissues. Is biotechnology a technology at all, he asks, or is it a notion of "life itself" that is inseparable from its use in the biotech industry? The three sections of the book cover the three primary activities of biotechnology today: the encoding of biological materials into digital form—as in bioinformatics and genomics; its recoding in various ways—including the "biocolonialism" of mapping genetically isolated ethnic populations and the newly pervasive concern over "biological security"; and its decoding back into biological materiality—as in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Thacker moves easily from science to philosophy to political economics, enlivening his account with ideas from such thinkers as Georges Bataille, Georges Canguilhem, Michel Foucault, Antonio Negri, and Paul Virilio. The "global genome," says Thacker, makes it impossible to consider biotechnology without the context of globalism.
Like it or not, knowing how to make use of online tools without being overloaded with too much information is an essential ingredient to personal success in the twenty-first century. But how can we use digital media so that they make us empowered participants rather than passive receivers, grounded, well-rounded people rather than multitasking basket cases? In Net Smart, cyberculture expert Howard Rheingold shows us how to use social media intelligently, humanely, and, above all, mindfully. Mindful use of digital media means thinking about what we are doing, cultivating an ongoing inner inquiry into how we want to spend our time. Rheingold outlines five fundamental digital literacies, online skills that will help us do this: attention, participation, collaboration, critical consumption of information (or "crap detection"), and network smarts. He explains how attention works, and how we can use our attention to focus on the tiny relevant portion of the incoming tsunami of information. He describes the quality of participation that empowers the best of the bloggers, netizens, tweeters, and other online community participants; he examines how successful online collaborative enterprises contribute new knowledge to the world in new ways; and he teaches us a lesson on networks and network building. Rheingold points out that there is a bigger social issue at work in digital literacy, one that goes beyond personal empowerment. If we combine our individual efforts wisely, it could produce a more thoughtful society: countless small acts like publishing a Web page or sharing a link could add up to a public good that enriches everybody.
Questions about the physical world, the mind, and technology in conversations that reveal a rich seam of interacting ideas. Science today is more a process of collaboration than moments of individual "eurekas." This book recreates that kind of synergy by offering a series of interconnected dialogues with leading scientists who are asked to reflect on key questions and concepts about the physical world, technology, and the mind. These thinkers offer both specific observations and broader comments about the intellectual traditions that inform these questions; doing so, they reveal a rich seam of interacting ideas. The persistent paradox of our era is that in a world of unprecedented access to information, many of the most important questions remain unsolved. These conversations (conducted by a veteran science writer, Adolfo Plasencia) reflect this, with scientists addressing such issues as intelligence, consciousness, global warming, energy, technology, matter, the possibility of another earth, changing the past, and even the philosophical curveball, "is the universe a hologram?" The dialogues discuss such fascinating aspects of the physical world as the function of the quantum bit, the primordial cosmology of the universe, and the wisdom of hewn stones. They offer optimistic but reasoned views of technology, considering convergence culture, algorithms, "Beauty ≠ Truth," the hacker ethic, AI, and other topics. And they offer perspectives from a range of disciplines on intelligence, discussing subjects that include the neurophysiology of the brain, affective computing, collaborative innovation, and the wisdom of crowds. Conversations with Hal Abelson, Ricardo Baeza-Yates, John Perry Barlow, Javier Benedicto, José Bernabéu, Michail Bletsas, Jose M. Carmena, David Casacuberta, Yung Ho Chang, Ignacio Cirac, Gianluigi Colalucci, Avelino Corma, Bernardo Cuenca Grau, Javier Echeverria, José Hernández-Orallo, Hiroshi Ishii, Pablo Jarillo-Herrero, Henry Jenkins, Anne Margulies, Mario J. Molina, Tim O'Reilly, John Ochsendorf, Paul Osterman, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Rosalind W. Picard, Howard Rheingold, Alejandro W. Rodriguez, Israel Ruiz, Sara Seager, Richard Stallman, Antonio Torralba, Bebo White, José María Yturralde
Author: Manuel Castells,Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol,Jack Linchuan Qiu,Araba Sey
Publisher: MIT Press
Category: Technology & Engineering
Wireless networks are the fastest growing communications technology in history. Are mobile phones expressions of identity, fashionable gadgets, tools for life -- or all of the above? Mobile Communication and Society looks at how the possibility of multimodal communication from anywhere to anywhere at any time affects everyday life at home, at work, and at school, and raises broader concerns about politics and culture both global and local. Drawing on data gathered from around the world, the authors explore who has access to wireless technology, and why, and analyze the patterns of social differentiation seen in unequal access.They explore the social effects of wireless communication -- what it means for family life, for example, when everyone is constantly in touch, or for the idea of an office when workers can work anywhere. Is the technological ability to multitask further compressing time in our already hurried existence? The authors consider the rise of a mobile youth culture based on peer-to-peer networks, with its own language of texting, and its own values. They examine the phenomenon of flash mobs, and the possible political implications. And they look at the relationship between communication and development and the possibility that developing countries could "leapfrog" directly to wireless and satellite technology. This sweeping book -- moving easily in its analysis from the United States to China, from Europe to Latin America and Africa -- answers the key questions about our transformation into a mobile network society.
In Theorizing Digital Cultural Heritage, experts offer a critical and theoretical appraisal of the uses of digital media by cultural heritage institutions. Previous discussions of cultural heritage and digital technology have left the subject largely unmapped in terms of critical theory; the essays in this volume offer this long-missing perspective on the challenges of using digital media in the research, preservation, management, interpretation, and representation of cultural heritage. The contributors--scholars and practitioners from a range of relevant disciplines--ground theory in practice, considering how digital technology might be used to transform institutional cultures, methods, and relationships with audiences. The contributors examine the relationship between material and digital objects in collections of art and indigenous artifacts; the implications of digital technology for knowledge creation, documentation, and the concept of authority; and the possibilities for "virtual cultural heritage"--the preservation and interpretation of cultural and natural heritage through real-time, immersive, and interactive techniques.The essays in Theorizing Digital Cultural Heritage will serve as a resource for professionals, academics, and students in all fields of cultural heritage, including museums, libraries, galleries, archives, and archaeology, as well as those in education and information technology. The range of issues considered and the diverse disciplines and viewpoints represented point to new directions for an emerging field.Contributors:Nadia Arbach, Juan Antonio Barceló, Deidre Brown, Fiona Cameron, Erik Champion, Sarah Cook, Jim Cooley, Bharat Dave, Suhas Deshpande, Bernadette Flynn, Maurizio Forte, Kati Geber, Beryl Graham, Susan Hazan, Sarah Kenderdine, José Ripper Kós, Harald Kraemer, Ingrid Mason, Gavan McCarthy, Slavko Milekic, Rodrigo Paraizo, Ross Parry, Scot T. Refsland, Helena Robinson, Angelina Russo, Corey Timpson, Marc Tuters, Peter Walsh, Jerry Watkins, Andrea Witcomb
Joseph P. Huston,Marcos Nadal,Mora Teruel Mora,Luigi Francesco Agnati,Camilo José Cela Conde
Author: Joseph P. Huston,Marcos Nadal,Mora Teruel Mora,Luigi Francesco Agnati,Camilo José Cela Conde
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Humans have engaged in artistic and aesthetic activities since the appearance of our species. Our ancestors have decorated their bodies, tools, and utensils for over 100,000 years. The expression of meaning using color, line, sound, rhythm, or movement, among other means, constitutes a fundamental aspect of our species' biological and cultural heritage. Art and aesthetics, therefore, contribute to our species identity and distinguish it from its living and extinctrelatives. This volume brings together the work on such questions by leading experts in genetics, psychology, neuroimaging, neuropsychology, art history, and philosophy. It sets the stagefor a cognitive neuroscience of art and aesthetics, understood in the broadest possible terms. With sections on visual art, dance, music, neuropsychology, and evolution, the breadth of this volume's scope reflects the richness and variety of topics and methods currently used today by scientists to understand the way our brain endows us with the faculty to produce and appreciate art and aesthetics.
Politics, Ecology, and Infrastructure at the Panama Canal
Author: Ashley Carse
Publisher: MIT Press
Category: Political Science
In this innovative book, Ashley Carse traces the water that flows into and out from the Panama Canal to explain how global shipping is entangled with Panama's cultural and physical landscapes. By following container ships as they travel downstream along maritime routes and tracing rivers upstream across the populated watershed that feeds the canal, he explores the politics of environmental management around a waterway that links faraway ports and markets to nearby farms, forests, cities, and rural communities. Carse draws on a wide range of ethnographic and archival material to show the social and ecological implications of transportation across Panama. The Canal moves ships over an aquatic staircase of locks that demand an enormous amount of fresh water from the surrounding region. Each passing ship drains 52 million gallons out to sea -- a volume comparable to the daily water use of half a million Panamanians. Infrastructures like the Panama Canal, Carse argues, do not simply conquer nature; they rework ecologies in ways that serve specific political and economic priorities. Interweaving histories that range from the depopulation of the U.S. Canal Zone a century ago to road construction conflicts and water hyacinth invasions in canal waters, the book illuminates the human and nonhuman actors that have come together at the margins of the famous trade route. 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal. Beyond the Big Ditch calls us to consider how infrastructures are materially embedded in place, producing environments with winners and losers.
A proposal to redefine design in a way that not only challenges the field's dominant paradigms but also changes the practice of design itself. In Critical Fabulations, Daniela Rosner proposes redefining design as investigative and activist, personal and culturally situated, responsive and responsible. Challenging the field's dominant paradigms and reinterpreting its history, Rosner wants to change the way we historicize the practice, reworking it from the inside. Focusing on the development of computational systems, she takes on powerful narratives of innovation and technology shaped by the professional expertise that has become integral to the field's mounting status within the new industrial economy. To do so, she intervenes in legacies of design, expanding what is considered “design” to include long-silenced narratives of practice, and enhancing existing design methodologies based on these rediscovered inheritances. Drawing on discourses of feminist technoscience, she examines craftwork's contributions to computing innovation—how craftwork becomes hardware manufacturing, and how hardware manufacturing becomes craftwork. She reclaims, for example, NASA's “Little Old Ladies,” the women who built information storage for the Apollo missions by weaving wires through magnetized metal rings. Mixing history, theory, personal experience, and case studies, Rosner reweaves fibers of technoscience by slowly reworking the methods and margins of design. She suggests critical fabulations as ways of telling stories that awaken alternative histories, and offers a set of techniques and orientations for fabulating its future. Critical Fabulations shows how design's hidden inheritances open different possibilities for practice.
How is consciousness created? When did it first appear on Earth, and how did it evolve? What constitutes consciousness, and which animals can be said to be sentient? In this book, Todd Feinberg and Jon Mallatt draw on recent scientific findings to answer these questions -- and to tackle the most fundamental question about the nature of consciousness: how does the material brain create subjective experience? After assembling a list of the biological and neurobiological features that seem responsible for consciousness, and considering the fossil record of evolution, Feinberg and Mallatt argue that consciousness appeared much earlier in evolutionary history than is commonly assumed. About 520 to 560 million years ago, they explain, the great "Cambrian explosion" of animal diversity produced the first complex brains, which were accompanied by the first appearance of consciousness; simple reflexive behaviors evolved into a unified inner world of subjective experiences. From this they deduce that all vertebrates are and have always been conscious -- not just humans and other mammals, but also every fish, reptile, amphibian, and bird. Considering invertebrates, they find that arthropods (including insects and probably crustaceans) and cephalopods (including the octopus) meet many of the criteria for consciousness. The obvious and conventional wisdom--shattering implication is that consciousness evolved simultaneously but independently in the first vertebrates and possibly arthropods more than half a billion years ago. Combining evolutionary, neurobiological, and philosophical approaches allows Feinberg and Mallatt to offer an original solution to the "hard problem" of consciousness.
Author: Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent,William R. Newman
Publisher: MIT Press
Notions of nature and art as they have been defined and redefined in Western culture,from the Hippocratic writers and Aristotle of Ancient Greece to nineteenth-century chemistry andtwenty-first century biomimetics.