Steven Levy has successfully gathered all the details necessary to tell the story of Google - to the present in early 2011. The most interesting sections deal with Google's experience in China, insights into the Google culture in the US and abroad, and how particular decisions were made from the beginning. The growth of Google is here, conflict along the way is presented, and the ethical and technological challenges covered. The only downside of the book - it is too early to know how Google will adjust to being a a "big company." A benefit of the Audible version is the "extra" interview section at the end. The reading of L. J. Ganser is excellent, the writing is engaging, and the book informative.
In Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World, Christopher Steiner drags readers screaming into a brave new world where humans use computers to make complex decisions. I use an algorithm to help my students write better. The program gives comments on grammar, spelling, and content. Other uses are being found in medicine, news reporting, foreign policy analysis, and all sorts of other work. The brave new world of bots is upon us and Steiner aptly tells readers what, when, why, and how they will come to make our lives different - sometimes better and sometimes not so much. The narration of Walter Dixon is a plus.
Miguel Nicolelis, a Duke University neuroscientist, is a leader in brain-machine-interface research. He has produced in “Beyond Boundaries: The New Neuroscience of Connecting Brains with Machines – and How It Will Change Our Lives” a history of neuroscience and a description of the research in the field. In particular, he describes his work with rats and then monkeys which have been able to manipulate robots through the use of their brains – alone. Others have been involved in such research and their work is aptly displayed for the reader and placed into context. This research holds great promise for use with humans particularly having muscular disability. Immediately, I could see the use of this technology with light exoskeletons which would help individuals to walk or use their arms without help. The history of neuroscience may be a little much for those just encountering the field. However, I think that almost anyone can follow Nicolelis’ story and descriptions of his work. This is cutting edge research and Nicolelis allows the uninitiated a window on what is coming to be. The reading is exactly what you have come to expect from Patrick Egan – wonderful.
There seems to be two types of people reading and rating this book, the true believers and the skeptics, but very little has been said on the overal enjoyment of the book. First this is a great concept, the idea that through the law of accelerating returns we are getting closer to a singularity, or a massive explosion in technological advancement that will literally combine humans and technology is truly amazing, and if your a tech buff that grew up dreaming of a holodeck this idea is right up your ally. Unfortunately the right person came up with the idea and the wrong person wrote about it. I think Ray is a fascinating human being and true genius, his career speaks for itself and his intelligent and quirky approach to life and health is a book in itself, but I found the book boring. Actually beyond boring because I am only a third of the way through and had to force myself to this point. I wanted to wait and finish before writing a review, but the umpteenth time he through out some computation or algorithmic equation I lost him, he's a scientist and I get it, but the read is a slow boring walk through mathematics which tries to prove ideas that are fascinating with literal repeated boring facts. I get it, if you tell me the rate on return of technology is increasing and technology is building on itself to make itself smarter I understand, to then go into equation after equation explaining why is just boring, save it for the Scientific American. It's if Ray wanted to prove to his skeptics on his ideas and wrote a Scientific Paper that he later edited for the layman for mass production. I will still read everything about Ray Kurzweil, I just don't know if I am going to read anything from Ray Kurzweil. Great guy, Great Idea, Boring Book.