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.
The author hopes that he will make the reader more self-conscious of his internet behavior. Mission accomplished. I will never think of "on-line" in the same way. This book provides a comprehensive overview of the pitfalls of the internet and should be required reading for anyone who uses or knows someone who uses the internet. I gave it four stars, however, because the narration is painfully slow.