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  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

  • By: Yuval Noah Harari
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 11 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,877
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,556
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,539

Yuval Noah Harari's 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today's most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A world controlled by cognitive dissonance

  • By Philomath on 09-05-18

Broad, Outrageous, Idiotic

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-11-18

Broad in topic coverage, outrageous political-social solutions (self-serving socialist-elitist with a dehumanized humanity as mere marionettes), and idiotic on the philosophical front (and absolutely clueless). I suffered much for the little gained.

  • Calculating the Cosmos

  • How Mathematics Unveils the Universe
  • By: Ian Stewart
  • Narrated by: Dana Hickox
  • Length: 12 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 61
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57

In Calculating the Cosmos, Ian Stewart presents an exhilarating guide to the cosmos, from our solar system to the entire universe. He describes the architecture of space and time, dark matter and dark energy, how galaxies form, why stars implode, how everything began, and how it's all going to end. He considers parallel universes, the fine-tuning of the cosmos for life, what forms extraterrestrial life might take, and the likelihood of life on Earth being snuffed out by an asteroid.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Narrator's Dilemma

  • By R. Yu on 12-18-16

Broad and Current, No Math

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-24-18

Covers a lot of ground, presents current challenges to current theories (formation of moon, Big Bang), and there is no math - it is mentioned, but not crunched. A bonus is the young narrator, who is, it can be reasonably assumed, is blissfully science-free, math-free, engineering-free, and history-free, where you are treated with a steady stream of mispronunciations (courtesy of the humanities).

  • AI Superpowers

  • China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order
  • By: Kai-Fu Lee
  • Narrated by: Mikael Naramore
  • Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 453
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 386
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 386

In his provocative new book, Dr. Kai-Fu Lee - one of the world’s most respected experts on artificial intelligence - reveals that China has suddenly caught up to the US, the leader in AI, at an astonishingly rapid pace. Building upon his longstanding US-Sino technology career (working at Apple, Microsoft, and Google) and his much-heralded New York Times Op-Ed from June 2017, Dr. Lee predicts that Chinese and American AI will have a stunning impact on not just traditional blue-collar industries but will also have a devastating effect on white-collar professions.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Compelled to listen at 2x speed

  • By Jaccred on 09-26-18

Good AI, Naive Prophesy, Philosophy, and Politics

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-02-18

There was some Chinese pride, and some Chinese propaganda, but he balanced it with some criticism of the lumbering, paranoid government.

Fascinating accounts of the new Chinese Capitalism, which, going on the book, they embraced with a mad, ravenous fervor. I'd say that is good, but given continued universal human cluelessness, any good will be hit or miss, and it won't last without philosophical enlightenment.

He said the Chinese government was giving AI a 5 Year Plan (which will fail, as usual - my note).

On philosophy, he admits the philosophical issues concerning AI still need addressing (I already have), and I would rather have been spared hisweak, vague, slogan-driven philosophical platitudes (which were instantly forgotten, since platitudes are not worth remembering)..

On the prophesy, his general prophesy was future mass human unemployment (a negative, unenlightened view).

On the political front, his solution to his mass unemployment scenario was Universal Basic Income, which is foolish in a philosophically clueless world. How foolish? He cited a trial program in Oakland, CA, where 1000 people will receive UBI for 3 years, and at the end, those running the program will collect their data by giving a questionnaire to the con-artists. The author thinks that all people are noble - that they will be appreciative and use the money productively. I know the flip-side of humanity, especially in America. They will take the money, laugh and call those running the program suckers, play cards and remain drunk for three years, and then lie on the questionnaire. Typical crap science. He does refer to UBI as 'social pacification' - citing those profiting from AI as the next elite (a vision which assumes, I must note again, continued universal human cluelessness).

He covers a lot of related topics (it is a long book) - from history to the new Internet-based Capitalist enterprises Chinese entrepreneurs, whom he lionizes for their gritty Capitalism. It does illustrate the trend toward the electronic age, which will power AI (supposedly - you never know what new thinking or technology is on the horizon).

He stays with the real, what is happening now, meaning he does not project so far into the future that it becomes wild fantasy. He is well-grounded in that respect.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Machine, Platform, Crowd

  • Harnessing Our Digital Future
  • By: Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee
  • Narrated by: Jeff Cummings
  • Length: 10 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 768
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 656
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 648

We live in strange times. A machine plays the strategy game Go better than any human; upstarts like Apple and Google destroy industry stalwarts such as Nokia; ideas from the crowd are repeatedly more innovative than corporate research labs. MIT's Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson know what it takes to master this digital-powered shift: we must rethink the integration of minds and machines, of products and platforms, and of the core and the crowd.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Both How AND Why for Techies

  • By Dan Collins on 08-11-17

What Business Scholars are Thinking

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-17-18

That would have been a more accurate title. Worthwhile, foward-looking book, beginning with the present, addressing automation (minds/machjnes), current mega corps (products and platforms, which was a curious way to look at things), and the current evolution of The Crowd. He throws in some weak platitude-driven philosophy, which, unbeknownst to him, is the real root of all the problems he touched on (and which would be another book). A bit slow and ponderous in the middle, but the last third was worth it.

  • Out of the Shadow of a Giant

  • Hooke, Halley and the Birth of Science
  • By: John Gribbin, Mary Gribbin
  • Narrated by: John Curless
  • Length: 12 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 4

Robert Hooke and Edmond Halley, whose place in history has been overshadowed by the giant figure of Newton, were pioneering scientists within their own right and instrumental in establishing the Royal Society. Although Newton is widely regarded as one of the greatest scientists of all time and the father of the English Scientific Revolution, John and Mary Gribbin uncover the fascinating story of Robert Hooke and Edmond Halley, whose scientific achievements neatly embrace the hundred years or so during which science as we know it became established.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An 'Alternate Perspective' Book

  • By wbiro on 09-16-18

An 'Alternate Perspective' Book

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-16-18

Makes the case that the main shoulder that Newton was standing on was Hook's, while giving some recognition to Haley as well. A bit of a slam on Newton in some respects, some points well known, others eye openings...

  • The Future of the Mind

  • The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind
  • By: Michio Kaku
  • Narrated by: Feodor Chin
  • Length: 15 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,482
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,348
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,343

For the first time in history, the secrets of the living brain are being revealed by a battery of high-tech brain scans devised by physicists. Now what was once solely the province of science fiction has become a startling reality. Recording memories, telepathy, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis are not only possible; they already exist.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • More breadth than depth

  • By Gary on 03-20-14

Nearly as Many Fanciful Notions as Nietzsche

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-16-18

Dr. Kaku may be a fine theoretical physicist, but outside of his arena his dabblings are weak (I will not say 'dumb', but that word crossed my mind many times) (and dabblings they are, especially his simplistic projections). To me, his 'dabbler' status is most evident in the philosophical forum (my area of focus), where he never rose above cliche and clueless (not his fault - humanity is still universally clueless).

Nevertheless it is a stimulating book that covers a lot of ground. I find that Kaku is more geared for the wild eyes of young audiences having their initial exposure to these areas of thought.

The narrator's delivery was staccato, which did not lend itself toward long thoughts - each machine-gun sequence risked losing the listener's attention (as it did many times with me).

  • Augmented

  • Life in the Smart Lane
  • By: Brett King, Andy Lark, Alex Lightman, and others
  • Narrated by: Steven Jay Cohen
  • Length: 12 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 343
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 315
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 314

The Internet and smartphone are just the latest in a 250-year-long cycle of disruption that has continuously changed the way we live, the way we work, and the way we interact. The coming Augmented Age, however, promises a level of disruption, behavioral shifts, and changes that are unparalleled. While consumers today are camping outside of an Apple store waiting to be one of the first to score a new Apple Watch or iPhone, the next generation of wearables will be able to predict if we're likely to have a heart attack and recommend a course of action.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • All Headlines

  • By Stephen D. Brown on 10-18-17

Fresh Voices, Good Observations

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-10-18

The young narrator was a good fit for the forward thinking, which was also in touch with current and upcoming technology. It is not philosophically enlightened, but I did not penalize the book for that, considering continued universal human cluelessness, when they were not philosophers.

  • Sci-Phi: Science Fiction as Philosophy

  • By: The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Professor David K. Johnson PhD University of Oklahoma
  • Length: 13 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 191
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 175
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 171

The science fiction genre has become increasingly influential in mainstream popular culture, evolving into one of the most engaging storytelling tools we use to think about technology and consider the shape of the future. Along the way, it has also become one of the major lenses we use to explore important philosophical questions. The origins of science fiction are most often thought to trace to Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, a story born from a night of spooky tale-telling by the fireside that explores scientific, moral, and ethical questions that were of great concern in the 19th century - and that continue to resonate today.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • It only scratches the surface

  • By Marcos Trujillo Cue on 06-14-18

Too Flawed

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-10-18

There were a few gems, and the Science Fiction presented was interesting, but there was little philosophy, and none of substance, meaning what was presented was very weak (reflecting the current state of human philosophy). The author was historically illiterate (Hiroshima was a terrorist act, the Kim's in Noth Korea was the US's fault, misdefining Colonialism). He used 'sentient' wrong (applying it to intelligence rather than to the senses), and he was politically naive, still pushing Marxist concepts (when free societies have rendered it obsolete).

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • 36 Books That Changed the World

  • By: The Great Courses, Andrew R. Wilson, Brad S. Gregory, and others
  • Narrated by: Andrew R. Wilson, Brad S. Gregory, Charles Kimball, and others
  • Length: 18 hrs and 41 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 356
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 314
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 313

Certain works of literature, history, science, philosophy, political theory and religion offer powerful examples of how books can spark revolutions, birth great religions, spur scientific advancements, shape world economies, teach us new ways of thinking, and much more. And with this fascinating collection crafted from our extensive library of courses, you can now get a single course that represents 36 of our best lectures on literary works that changed the world.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • too many trees not enough forest

  • By Bay Area Girl on 10-11-14

A Few Chapters Were Worth It for Me

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-30-18

I was already familiar with many of the books and authors covered, but personally I gained new insight into, and respect for, Francis Bacon, Diderot, John Stewart Mill, and even Ben Franklin. I also found many new examples of continued universal human cluelessness (even philosophers that I had not examined yet, such as Heidegger),

  • The Efficiency Paradox

  • What Big Data Can't Do
  • By: Edward Tenner
  • Narrated by: Jason Culp
  • Length: 11 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 40
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 38

Melding the long-term history of technology with the latest headlines and findings of computer science and social science, The Efficiency Paradox questions our ingrained assumptions about efficiency, persuasively showing how relying on the algorithms of digital platforms can in fact lead to wasted efforts, missed opportunities, and above all an inability to break out of established patterns. Edward Tenner offers a smarter way of thinking about efficiency, revealing what we and our institutions can learn from the random and unexpected.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An extremely useful book, told slightly monotonically

  • By Ovidiu on 05-15-18

Good Listen

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-28-18

It was more about efficiency than big data, but the author did cover a lot of ground, from smart cars to innovation, and he made a lot of points (which I call Potentially Useful Perspectives), while going on interesting side excursions, which were inefficient, but perhaps a good demonstration of the value of inefficiency (argued in the book).