College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
to Nicolas Carr's The Shallows, which I recommend be read first: to get the full warning of what can go wrong when we become slaves to technology and the rapid-fire "information age..." The originator of the Multiple Intelligence Education system, Howard Gardner, and Katie Davis come together to give a very serious look at the "App Generation," those born into a 24/7 "wired" society... I had to be a bit amused at the reviewer who vociferously complains that this book "won't get to the point" and gave up after an hour and a half because the authors wanted to give background for their thesis. (Yes, there is a thorough and necessary historical background of technology's influence on the last few hundred years of human evolution.) Perhaps this person is suffering from some of the negative effects of information at the speed of light: inability to concentrate for long periods of time, impatience, attention deficits...as well as deficits in the areas of identity, creativity and interpersonal relationships. (Again, read Carr first to get the thorough analysis of this foreboding side of the issue in bold letters.) Gardner and Davis are realistic about these side-effects of cellphones, tablets and computers which allow youth to be constantly online and more involved with their Facebook friends than the ones standing right next to them (also busy with their online lives.) But Gardner and Davis also offer hope, showing that, used correctly and wisely--and on a more limited basis, technology COULD help the computer generation to emerge MORE creative, with MORE enhanced self-awareness and with MORE connectedness to others. The key, they say, is being very aware of how one is using the technology: that is, that the human is still in charge and using the machines to enhance reality rather than to replace it. Becoming slave to the machines and their flashing lights and info-bits is what leads to everything Carr warns of in The Shallows... It's a big "COULD," I have to say, and I think I see more Shallows than Depths when it comes to technology use among the young (I teach college English and have for 25 years, and so have seen both sides of the technological divide), but at least Gardner and Davis give us a guideline, a way of becoming aware and helping others become aware of how to control technology rather than letting it come to control us.
"how did I not know about this?" I felt the exact same way. This is the remarkable story of a life sustaining process of which I would guess almost no one in the general population is immediately aware. Elegantly and poetically told, this book proves to be enthralling as well as educating. It is a real "page turner," that is, you will want to listen from beginning to end. What every science based tale should be!
This is a MUST read for anyone interested in AI or, for that matter, pure human psychology. Christian (who, by the way, does a fine job of narrating!) presents, with StevenPinkeresque style and wit, the reasons why the computer, as it becomes stronger and stronger in the ways of logic and computation, ironically becomes farther removed from us rather than more like us. He helps to shake away the still clinging prejudices left over from the Age Of Reason and makes us aware that being a "creature-computer interface" is not such a bad thing, that the emotional, "irrational" part of us is a good bit of what makes us---well, us! All of this in a rich tapestry of science, case histories and personal anecdotes which makes for a very enlightening and enjoyable read. This is the best writing on the human mind I have read since Pinker's How The Mind Works, which would serve as a great companion to this book.
Sidenote: 10/8/2012 I took on several on of noted on-line bots, like Cleverbot and A.L.I.C.E., and was not at all impressed. They might be able to fake surface small talk or even argue (as long as it is in insult and not in reasonable debate)--but sustaining conversation on a topic, wondering, showing genuine insight or awe--I would never mistake them for a human at the other end.
Chet Yarbrough, an audio book addict, exercises two cocker spaniels twice a day with an Ipod in his pocket and earbuds in his ears. Hope these few reviews seduce the public into a similar obsession but walk safely and be aware of the unaware.
With the sub-title—"How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World", Christopher Steiner’s "Automate This" is hyperbolic. Tech geeks are trending toward rule of the world but humans remain too complicated and diverse for this generation of code hackers to dominate the world. Social and political science have not reached a state of measurement and predictable outcome that reaches Karl Popper’s criteria for science. Popper’s requirement for empirical falsification is not true with social and political algorithms; at least, not as reliable, reproducible experiments. Social and political analysis, even with the use of algorithms, is not science.
Of particular interest is Steiner’s explanation of algorithm impact on jobs. Like the industrial revolution, the world’s work force will dramatically change with continued automation. More product production will be automated through algorithms that manipulate machines to do the work formerly done by humans. Steiner believes primary growth industries will be ruled by technology. No jobs will be unaffected by algorithms. Steiner notes that even medical services for common colds and routine visits will be served by algorithmic analysis and drug prescription services. Code hackers will be offered the greatest job opportunities. Call centers will become bigger employers but even those jobs will be increasingly handled by algorithms that minimize employee involvement. A conclusion one may draw from Steiner’s book is that middle managers of call centers, sales people for algorithmic products, teachers, personal service providers, and organization executives will be in demand but many traditional labor positions will disappear.
Steiner’s book is a recruitment tool for today’s and tomorrow’s code hackers. That is where jobs will be. Steiner suggests that young and future populations should plan to acquire basic math skills, learn to code, and plan for a future of automation and exploration.