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FROM THE PREFACE
Atheists assert that the natural world has no meaning or purpose. Dr Denis Alexander, Emeritus Director of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St. Edmunds College, Cambridge, draws a different conclusion. Not only do recent evolutionary biological data appear inconsistent with the claim that the world is purposeless, but the Christian doctrine of creation has provided and continues to provide both context and stimulus for the study of the natural world. Christians started biology! However, is a belief in an omnipotent, benign Creator consistent with a world of pain and suffering? From a lifetime's study in the biological sciences, Denis Alexander believes that whilst the cost of existence is extremely high, it can nonetheless be squared with the idea of a God of love whose ultimate purposes for humankind render that cost more comprehensible.
A simple walk around the block set journalist Spike Carlsen, bestselling author of A Splintered History of Wood, off to investigate everything he could about everything we take for granted in our normal life-from manhole covers and recycling bins to bike lanes and stoplights. In this celebration of the seemingly mundane, Carlsen opens our eyes to the engineering marvels, human stories, and natural wonders right outside our front door. He guides us through the surprising allure of sewers, the intricacies of power plants, the extraordinary path of an everyday letter, and the genius of recycling centers-all the while revealing that this awesome world isn't just a spectator sport. Engaging as it is endearing, A Walk Around the Block will change the way you see things in your everyday life. Join Carlsen as he strolls through the trash museum of New York City, explores the quirky world of squirrels, pigeons, and roadkill, and shows us how understanding stoplights, bike lanes, and fine art of walking can add years to our lives. In the end, he brings a sense of wonder into your average walk around the block, wherever you are. Guaranteed.
Robots may one day rule the world, but what is a robot-ruled Earth like? Many think the first truly smart robots will be brain emulations or ems. Scan a human brain, then run a model with the same connections on a fast computer, and you have a robot brain, but recognizably human. Train an em to do some job and copy it a million times: an army of workers is at your disposal. When they can be made cheaply, within perhaps a century, ems will displace humans in most jobs. In this new economic era, the world economy may double in size every few weeks. Some say we can't know the future, especially following such a disruptive new technology, but Professor Robin Hanson sets out to prove them wrong. Applying decades of expertise in physics, computer science, and economics, he uses standard theories to paint a detailed picture of a world dominated by ems. While human lives don't change greatly in the em era, em lives are as different from ours as our lives are from those of our farmer and forager ancestors. Ems make us question common assumptions of moral progress, because they reject many of the values we hold dear. Read about em mind speeds, body sizes, job training and career paths, energy use and cooling infrastructure, virtual reality, aging and retirement, death and immortality, security, wealth inequality, religion, teleportation, identity, cities, politics, law, war, status, friendship and love. This book shows you just how strange your descendants may be, though ems are no stranger than we would appear to our ancestors. To most ems, it seems good to be an em.
Few issues engender so much heat between Christians as the topic of creation. Reasonable, calm, and supremely well informed, this is a book written by someone who is passionate about both science and the Bible. 'I hope,' says Denis Alexander, 'that reading it will encourage you to believe, as I do, that the 'Book of God's Word' and the 'Book of God's Works' can be held firmly together in harmony.' This substantial new edition updates the science, and extends the author's discussion of the theological implications.
Tension exists between technologists and social thinkers because of the impact technology and innovation have on social values and norms, which is often viewed as damaging to the cultural fabric of a nation or society. Since the global business environment is the context in which implementation of technology and innovation takes place, it is widely accepted as the major reason for such conflicts. In this backdrop, this edited book integrates independent research from across the globe. It deals with the nature and significance of technology, innovation and social change as well as the relationships between them, and discusses the significance of social entrepreneurship from social innovation and technology perspectives. Research areas covered are related to the development and deployment of technology, innovation and knowledge in social change, capabilities of institutions, models, role of government and corporate social responsibility and community involvement. Multiple aspects of social change are discussed in the context of India, Mexico, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Nigeria and other African countries. But society does not silently accept technologically enforced changes; sometimes technology is seen as an enemy of inclusive growth and for many, economic development is an anti-thesis of social change. Selected case studies on sector-specific technologies, such as the use of genetically modified seeds in agriculture, which has impacted the market and society, are critically analyzed to develop insights into the adoption of technology and its impact. At the same time it examines policy related issues, without any bias in favor of, or against, a specific technology.
Combining postmodernism with technoscience, this work considers the viability of public works such as the superconducting supercollider in a postmodern age. Contending that technoscientific projects are contingent upon economic and political support, and not simply upon their scientific feasibility, Sassower illuminates the cultural context of postmodernism vis-a-vis an examination of postmodernism and the philosophy of late 20th-century technoscience. Drawing upon conflicts between Popperians, postmodernists and feminists, Sassower claims that "translation" between competing discourses about technoscience is necessary to avoid cultural collisions and foster fruitful exchange between divergent discourses; also that a discussion of reality, both natural and social, is the common ground for this debate. He emphasizes also the material, political and economic conditions which underlie technoscientific projects, and stresses the indespensible role imagination and art play in teaching the responsible development of technology in the next century.
The internet was meant to set us free.
Tech has radically changed the way we live our lives. But have we unwittingly handed too much away to shadowy powers behind a wall of code, all manipulated by a handful of Silicon Valley utopians, ad men, and venture capitalists? And, in light of recent data breach scandals around companies like Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, what does that mean for democracy, our delicately balanced system of government that was created long before big data, total information and artificial intelligence? In this urgent polemic, Jamie Bartlett argues that through our unquestioning embrace of big tech, the building blocks of democracy are slowly being removed. The middle class is being eroded, sovereign authority and civil society is weakened, and we citizens are losing our critical faculties, maybe even our free will.
The People Vs Tech is an enthralling account of how our fragile political system is being threatened by the digital revolution. Bartlett explains that by upholding six key pillars of democracy, we can save it before it is too late. We need to become active citizens; uphold a shared democratic culture; protect free elections; promote equality; safeguard competitive and civic freedoms; and trust in a sovereign authority. This essential book shows that the stakes couldn’t be higher and that, unless we radically alter our course, democracy will join feudalism, supreme monarchies and communism as just another political experiment that quietly disappeared.
The gripping and definitive in-the-room account of the revolution that has swept the news industry over the last decade and reshaped our world.
The last decade has seen the News industry face unprecedented change. The sometimes-century old institutions which were once the bastions of truth have had their dominance eroded by vast innovations in viral technology and, as millennial appetites force the industry to choose between principles of objectivity and impartiality, the survivors must confront the horrifying cost of their success: sexual scandal, fake news, the election of President Trump and the shaking of democracy.
Taking us behind the scenes at four media titans - BuzzFeed, VICE, The New York Times and The Washington Post - Abramson reveals the human drama behind this shift: one involving deal-making tycoons, thrusting reporters, hard-bitten editors, egomaniacs, bullshitters, provocateurs and bullies, with some surfing and others drowning in the breaking wave of change.
'A cracking, essential read… Abramson knows where most of the bodies are buried and is prepared to draw the reader a detailed map' Guardian
Japan is the only country in the world to have been attacked with nuclear weapons. Her anti-nuclear Civil Society Organisations - with their experiences of coping with the fallout of the atom bomb blasts - are passionately committed to their cause. While international treaties are final objectives, there is another effective diplomatic approach towards nuclear disarmament: CSO diplomacy might open the window of deadlocked inter-state negotiations. The role of civil society in the field of security is relatively new, coming to prominence during the establishment of the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines, the so-called Ottawa Treaty. The Treaty signalled that the role, presence and decision of governments are essential. This is an investigation into how Japanese CSOs have influenced the Japanese official policy with regards to nuclear disarmament. It focuses on the private diplomacy of CSOs; on the mitigation of inter-state conflicts that lie behind nuclear issues; and on the involvement of governments in social movements of nuclear disarmament. Dr Kazuhiro Tobisawa suggests that developing a solid understand of the pertinent issues surrounding Japaneses CSOs could lead to the resolution of half-a-century of failed attempts at nuclear disarmament.
The use of animals in research has always been surrounded by ethical controversy. This book provides an overview of the central ethical issues focusing on the interconnectedness of science, law and ethics. It aims to make theoretical ethical reasoning understandable to non-ethicists and provide tools to improve ethical decision making on animal research. It focuses on good scientific practice, the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement), ethical theories applied to specific cases and an overview of regulatory issues. The book is co-authored by experts in animal research, animal welfare, social sciences, law and ethics, and provides both animal researchers and members of animal ethics committees with knowledge that can facilitate their work and communication with stakeholders and the public. The book is written to provide knowledge, not to argue a certain position, and is intended to be used in training that aims to fulfil EU Directive 2010/63/EU.
The first decade of the twenty-first century marked the demise of the current world order. Despite widespread acknowledgement of these disruptive crises, the proposed response from the mainstream remains the same. Against the confines of this increasingly limited politics, a new paradigm has emerged. Fully Automated Luxury Communism claims that new technologies will liberate us from work, providing the opportunity to build a society beyond both capitalism and scarcity. Automation, rather than undermining an economy built on full employment, is instead the path to a world of liberty, luxury and happiness. For everyone. In his first book, radical political commentator Aaron Bastani conjures a new politics: a vision of a world of unimaginable hope, highlighting how we move to energy abundance, feed a world of nine billion, overcome work, transcend the limits of biology and build meaningful freedom for everyone. Rather than a final destination, such a society heralds the beginning of history.
'A manual for the 21st-century citizen... accessible, refreshingly critical, relevant and urgent' - Financial Times 'Fascinating and deeply disturbing' - Yuval Noah Harari, Guardian Books of the Year In this New York Times bestseller, Cathy O'Neil, one of the first champions of algorithmic accountability, sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life -- and threaten to rip apart our social fabric. We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives - where we go to school, whether we get a loan, how much we pay for insurance - are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated. And yet, as Cathy O'Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and incontestable, even when they're wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination. Tracing the arc of a person's life, O'Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future, both as individuals and as a society. These "weapons of math destruction" score teachers and students, sort CVs, grant or deny loans, evaluate workers, target voters, and monitor our health. O'Neil calls on modellers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it's up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.
Who has decided how Europeans have dressed and dwelled? Traveled
and dined? Worked and played? Who, in fact, can be credited with
the shaping of Europe?
Shrouds have long held a special place among the sacred relics of Christendom. In the Middle Ages, shrouds, like holy relics, were the prize possessions of churches and cities. Cloaked in mystery, these artifacts have long been objects of reverence and awe, as well as sources of debates, quarrels, thefts, and excommunications. Shroudsaso some claimaprovide visible testimony to faith. One in particular has drawn the interest of scholars, clergy, and the public alike: the Shroud of Turin. In The Shroud of Turin ,Andrea Nicolotti chronicles the history of this famous cloth, including its circuitous journey from the French village of Lirey to its home in the Italian city of Turin, as well as the fantastical claims surrounding its origin and modern scientific efforts to prove or disprove its authenticity. Full of intrigue and mystery, The Shroud of Turin dismantles hypotheses that cannot survive the rigors of historical analysis. Nicolotti directly addresses the thorny problem of the authenticity of the relic and the difficult relationship between history, faith, and science.
The internet is an everyday part of our contemporary lives. This book explores how it is shaped and embedded within society, fostering new social worlds and ways of talking. Using a wide range of examples to examine economic, political and cultural issues, this book is crucial reading for all those studying society, media and technology.
Data science has never had more influence on the world. Large companies are now seeing the benefit of employing data scientists to interpret the vast amounts of data that now exists. However, the field is so new and is evolving so rapidly that the analysis produced can be haphazard at best. The 9 Pitfalls of Data Science shows us real-world examples of what can go wrong. Written to be an entertaining read, this invaluable guide investigates the all too common mistakes of data scientists - who can be plagued by lazy thinking, whims, hunches, and prejudices - and indicates how they have been at the root of many disasters, including the Great Recession. Gary Smith and Jay Cordes emphasise how scientific rigor and critical thinking skills are indispensable in this age of Big Data, as machines often find meaningless patterns that can lead to dangerous false conclusions. The 9 Pitfalls of Data Science is loaded with entertaining tales of both successful and misguided approaches to interpreting data, both grand successes and epic failures. These cautionary tales will not only help data scientists be more effective, but also help the public distinguish between good and bad data science.
Today we hear renewed calls for a dialogue between science and religion: why has the old question of the relations between science and religion now returned to the public domain and what is at stake in this debate? To answer these questions, historian and sociologist of science Yves Gingras retraces the long history of the troubled relationship between science and religion, from the condemnation of Galileo for heresy in 1633 until his rehabilitation by John Paul II in 1992. He reconstructs the process of the gradual separation of science from theology and religion, showing how God and natural theology became marginalized in the scientific field in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In contrast to the dominant trend among historians of science, Gingras argues that science and religion are social institutions that give rise to incompatible ways of knowing, rooted in different methodologies and forms of knowledge, and that there never was, and cannot be, a genuine dialogue between them. Wide-ranging and authoritative, this new book on one of the fundamental questions of Western thought will be of great interest to students and scholars of the history of science and of religion as well as to general readers who are intrigued by the new and much-publicized conversations about the alleged links between science and religion.
Can computers be conscious?
A classic since its first appearance in the 1980s, this comprehensive reference continues to be the history of the spread of new ideas, for academics and professionals alike. In an age of ever-increasing technological innovation, this renowned volume--which has sold more than 30,000 copies in each edition--is more important than ever. Diffusion of Innovations lucidly explains how inventions and new concepts spread via communication channels over time. As professor Everett Rogers explains, such innovations are almost always perceived as uncertain or even risky. To overcome this, most people seek out others like themselves who have already adopted the new idea. The diffusion process, then, is most often shaped by a few individuals who spread the world amongst their circle of acquaintances, a process that typically takes months or years. But there are exceptions: use of the Internet in the 1990s, for instance, may have spread more rapidly than any other innovation in human history--and it continues to influence the very nature of diffusion by decreasing the significance of physical distance between people. As thought-provoking as it is instructive, this fully updated, widely acclaimed work of scholarship is itself a great idea that continues to spread.
Future Politics confronts one of the most important questions of our time: how will digital technology transform politics and society? The great political debate of the last century was about how much of our collective life should be determined by the state and what should be left to the market and civil society. In the future, the question will be how far our lives should be directed and controlled by powerful digital systems - and on what terms? Jamie Susskind argues that rapid and relentless innovation in a range of technologies - from artificial intelligence to virtual reality - will transform the way we live together. Calling for a fundamental change in the way we think about politics, he describes a world in which certain technologies and platforms, and those who control them, come to hold great power over us. Some will gather data about our lives, causing us to avoid conduct perceived as shameful, sinful, or wrong. Others will filter our perception of the world, choosing what we know, shaping what we think, affecting how we feel, and guiding how we act. Still others will force us to behave certain ways, like self-driving cars that refuse to drive over the speed limit. Those who control these technologies - usually big tech firms and the state - will increasingly control us. They will set the limits of our liberty, decreeing what we may do and what is forbidden. Their algorithms will resolve vital questions of social justice, allocating social goods and sorting us into hierarchies of status and esteem. They will decide the future of democracy, causing it to flourish or decay. A groundbreaking work of political analysis, Future Politics challenges readers to rethink what it means to be free or equal, what it means to have power or property, what it means for a political system to be just or democratic, and proposes ways in which we can - and must - regain control.
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