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'Thrilling, brilliant, radical ... an admirable defence of humans against machines' Guardian A passionate defence of humanity and a work of radical optimism from the international bestselling author of Postcapitalism How do we preserve what makes us human in an age of uncertainty? Are we now just consumers shaped by market forces? A sequence of DNA? A collection of base instincts? Or will we soon be supplanted by algorithms and A.I. anyway? In Clear Bright Future, Paul Mason calls for a radical, impassioned defence of the human being, our universal rights and freedoms and our power to change the world around us. Ranging from economics to Big Data, from neuroscience to the culture wars, he draws from his on-the-ground reporting from mass protests in Istanbul to riots in Washington, as well as his own childhood in an English mining community, to show how the notion of humanity has become eroded as never before. In this book Paul Mason argues that we are still capable - through language, innovation and co-operation - of shaping our future. He offers a vision of humans as more than puppets, customers or cogs in a machine. This work of radical optimism asks: Do you want to be controlled? Or do you want something better?
In today's world, numbers are in the ascendancy. Societies dominated by star ratings, scores, likes and lists are rapidly emerging, as data are collected on virtually every aspect of our lives. From annual university rankings, ratings agencies and fitness tracking technologies to our credit score and health status, everything and everybody is measured and evaluated. In this important new book, Steffen Mau offers a critical analysis of this increasingly pervasive phenomenon. While the original intention behind the drive to quantify may have been to build trust and transparency, Mau shows how metrics have in fact become a form of social conditioning. The ubiquitous language of ranking and scoring has changed profoundly our perception of value and status. What is more, through quantification, our capacity for competition and comparison has expanded significantly - we can now measure ourselves against others in practically every area. The rise of quantification has created and strengthened social hierarchies, transforming qualitative differences into quantitative inequalities that play a decisive role in shaping the life chances of individuals. This timely analysis of the pernicious impact of quantification will appeal to students and scholars across the social sciences, as well as anyone concerned by the cult of numbers and its impact on our lives and societies today.
This book systematically addresses the issue of assessing the normative nature of visions of emerging technologies in an epistemologically robust way. In the context of democratic governance of emerging technologies, not only it is important to reflect on technologies' moral significance, but also to address their emerging and future oriented character. The book proposes an original approach to deal with the issue of "plausible" ethical evaluation of new technologies. Taking its start from current debates about Technology Assessment, the proposed solution emerges as a combination of theoretical and methodological insights from the fields of Philosophy of Technology, Science and Technology Studies and a normative justification based on pragmatist ethics. The book's main contribution is to engage a diverse and interdisciplinary audience (ethicists, philosophers, social scientists, technology assessment researchers and practitioners) in a reflection concerning the epistemological challenges that are associated to the endeavour of appraising the moral significance of emerging technologies in the attempt of democratically governing them. It brings together concepts and methodologies from different disciplines and shows their synergy in applying them to two specific case studies of emerging biomedical technologies.
Artificial Intelligence is here, today. How can society make the best use of it?Until recently, "artificial intelligence" sounded like something out of science fiction. But the technology of artificial intelligence, AI, is becoming increasingly common, from self-driving cars to e-commerce algorithms that seem to know what you want to buy before you do. Throughout the economy and many aspects of daily life, artificial intelligence has become the transformative technology of our time. Despite its current and potential benefits, AI is little understood by the larger public and widely feared. The rapid growth of artificial intelligence has given rise to concerns that hidden technology will create a dystopian world of increased income inequality, a total lack of privacy, and perhaps a broad threat to humanity itself. In their compelling and readable book, two experts at Brookings discuss both the opportunities and risks posed by artificial intelligence and how near-term policy decisions could determine whether the technology leads to utopia or dystopia. Drawing on in-depth studies of major uses of AI, the authors detail how the technology actually works. They outline a policy and governance blueprint for gaining the benefits of artificial intelligence while minimizing its potential downsides. The book offers major recommendations for actions that governments, businesses, and individuals can take to promote trustworthy and responsible artificial intelligence. Their recommendations include: creation of ethical principles, strengthening government oversight, defining corporate culpability, establishment of advisory boards at federal agencies, using third-party audits to reduce biases inherent in algorithms, tightening personal privacy requirements, using insurance to mitigate exposure to AI risks, broadening decision-making about AI uses and procedures, penalizing malicious uses of new technologies, and taking pro-active steps to address how artificial intelligence affects the workforce. Turning Point is essential reading for anyone concerned about how artificial intelligence works and what can be done to ensure its benefits outweigh its harm.
In our brave new world of Big Tech, work is automated and money melts into air. What comes next as the global capitalist edifice crumbles? Slavoj Zizek shows how the answer is already stealing into sight, like a thief in broad daylight. What we must do is wake up and see it. 'In a world determined to crush hope of radical change, where moral corruption poses as pragmatism and systemic oppression as the new freedom, Slavoj Zizek's excellent new book serves humanity in a way that only authentic philosophy can' Yanis Varoufakis 'The Elvis of cultural theory' New Statesman 'Master of the counterintuitive observation' New Yorker
Suicides, excessive overtime, and hostility and violence on the factory floor in China. Drawing on vivid testimonies from rural migrant workers, student interns, managers and trade union staff, Dying for an iPhone is a devastating expose of two of the world's most powerful companies: Foxconn and Apple. As the leading manufacturer of iPhones, iPads, and Kindles, and employing one million workers in China alone, Taiwanese-invested Foxconn's drive to dominate global electronics manufacturing has aligned perfectly with China's goal of becoming the world leader in technology. This book reveals the human cost of that ambition and what our demands for the newest and best technology means for workers. Foxconn workers have repeatedly demonstrated their power to strike at key nodes of transnational production, challenge management and the Chinese state, and confront global tech behemoths. Dying for an iPhone allows us to assess the impact of global capitalism's deepening crisis on workers.'
"The Fourth Age not only discusses what the rise of A.I. will mean for us, it also forces readers to challenge their preconceptions. And it manages to do all this in a way that is both entertaining and engaging." -The New York Times As we approach a great turning point in history when technology is poised to redefine what it means to be human, The Fourth Age offers fascinating insight into AI, robotics, and their extraordinary implications for our species. In The Fourth Age, Byron Reese makes the case that technology has reshaped humanity just three times in history: - 100,000 years ago, we harnessed fire, which led to language. - 10,000 years ago, we developed agriculture, which led to cities and warfare. - 5,000 years ago, we invented the wheel and writing, which lead to the nation state. We are now on the doorstep of a fourth change brought about by two technologies: AI and robotics. The Fourth Age provides extraordinary background information on how we got to this point, and how-rather than what-we should think about the topics we'll soon all be facing: machine consciousness, automation, employment, creative computers, radical life extension, artificial life, AI ethics, the future of warfare, superintelligence, and the implications of extreme prosperity. By asking questions like "Are you a machine?" and "Could a computer feel anything?", Reese leads you through a discussion along the cutting edge in robotics and AI, and, provides a framework by which we can all understand, discuss, and act on the issues of the Fourth Age, and how they'll transform humanity.
Sharing is central to how we live today: it is what we do online; it is a model of economic behaviour; and it is also a type of therapeutic talk. Sharing embodies positive values such as empathy, communication, fairness, openness and equality. The Age of Sharing shows how and when sharing became caring, and explains how its meanings have changed in the digital age. But the word 'sharing' also camouflages commercial or even exploitative relations. Websites say they share data with advertisers, although in reality they sell it, while parts of the sharing economy look a great deal like rental services. Ultimately, it is argued, practices described as sharing and critiques of those practices have common roots. Consequently, the metaphor of sharing now constructs significant swathes of our social practices and provides the grounds for critiquing them; it is a mode of participation in the capitalist order as well as a way of resisting it. Drawing on nineteenth-century literature, Alcoholics Anonymous, the American counterculture, reality TV, hackers, Airbnb, Facebook and more, The Age of Sharing offers a rich account of a complex contemporary keyword. It will appeal to students and scholars of the internet, digital culture and linguistics.
The work of John Charles Fremont, Richard Byrd, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, John Wesley Powell, Susan Cooper, Rachel Carson, and Loren Eiseley represents a widely divergent body of writing. Yet despite their range of genres--including exploration narratives, technical reports, natural histories, scientific autobiographies, fictional utopias, nature writing, and popular scientific literature--these seven authors produced strikingly connected representations of nature and the practice of science in America from about 1840 to 1970. Michael A. Bryson provides a thoughtful examination of the authors, their work, and the ways in which science and nature unite them.
Visions of the Land explores how our environmental attitudes have influenced and been shaped by various scientific perspectives from the time of western expansion and geographic exploration in the mid-nineteenth century to the start of the contemporary environmental movement in the twentieth century. Bryson offers a literary-critical analysis of how writers of different backgrounds, scientific training, and geographic experiences represented nature through various kinds of natural science, from natural history to cartography to resource management to ecology and evolution, and in the process, explored the possibilities and limits of science itself.
Visions of the Land examines the varied, sometimes conflicting, but always fascinating ways in which we have defined the relations among science, nature, language, and the human community. Ultimately, it is an extended meditation on the capacity of using science to live well within nature.
Fracking is a novel but contested energy technology - so what makes some countries embrace it whilst others reject it? This book argues that the reason for policy divergence lies in procedures and processes, stakeholder inclusion and whether a strong narrative underpins governmental policies. Based on a large set of primary data gathered in Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, it explores shale gas policies in Central Eastern Europe (a region strongly dependent on Russian gas imports) to unveil the importance of policy regimes for creating a 'social license' for fracking. Its findings suggest that technology transfer does not happen in a vacuum but is subject to close mutual interaction with political, economic and social forces; and that national energy policy is not a matter of 'objective' policy imperatives, such as Russian import dependence, but a function of complex domestic dynamics pertaining to institutional procedures and processes, and winners and losers.
A provocative and inspiring look at the future of humanity and science from world-renowned scientist and bestselling author Martin Rees Humanity has reached a critical moment. Our world is unsettled and rapidly changing, and we face existential risks over the next century. Various outcomes-good and bad-are possible. Yet our approach to the future is characterized by short-term thinking, polarizing debates, alarmist rhetoric, and pessimism. In this short, exhilarating book, renowned scientist and bestselling author Martin Rees argues that humanity's prospects depend on our taking a very different approach to planning for tomorrow. The future of humanity is bound to the future of science and hinges on how successfully we harness technological advances to address our challenges. If we are to use science to solve our problems while avoiding its dystopian risks, we must think rationally, globally, collectively, and optimistically about the long term. Advances in biotechnology, cybertechnology, robotics, and artificial intelligence-if pursued and applied wisely-could empower us to boost the developing and developed world and overcome the threats humanity faces on Earth, from climate change to nuclear war. At the same time, further advances in space science will allow humans to explore the solar system and beyond with robots and AI. But there is no "Plan B" for Earth-no viable alternative within reach if we do not care for our home planet. Rich with fascinating insights into cutting-edge science and technology, this accessible book will captivate anyone who wants to understand the critical issues that will define the future of humanity on Earth and beyond.
Approach the future as a conversation, not a declaration. How can you be prepared for what's next when emerging trends constantly threaten to turn your strategic plan on its head? The world of business is experiencing a state of hyperchange influenced by global movements, disruptive technologies, political uprisings and new consumer expectations. If your world is turned upside down, will you know how to pivot and thrive, or will you be roadkill in the 'adapt or die' business race? Futuring is the art of anticipating and testing the trade-offs of different futures by making sense of key trends, signals and emerging patterns. How to Future is the only book that will teach you how to become a strategy wayfinder, allowing you to evaluate, plan and prepare for better futures for you and your business. How to Future is a guidebook to futuring and arms you with tools, strategies and practices that illuminate new strategic pathways. Renowned futurists Scott Smith and Madeline Ashby teach you how to manage the daily flood of information and signals, and discern emergent patterns that have a direct impact on the direction of your business. How to Future isn't about the "one future" you expect. Instead, this book equips you with valuable tools and concepts, builds a future-focused mindset and enables you to envision, stress-test and prototype adaptable, informed and agile strategic visioning. These tools will empower you, your team and your organization to anticipate whatever futures emerge.
In June 2017, Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, was ousted in a boardroom coup that capped a brutal year for the transportation giant. Uber had catapulted to the top of the tech world, yet for many came to symbolise everything wrong with Silicon Valley. In the tradition of Brad Stone's Everything Store and John Carreyrou's Bad Blood, award-winning investigative reporter Mike Isaac's Super Pumped delivers a gripping account of Uber's rapid rise, its pitched battles with taxi unions and drivers, the company's toxic internal culture and the bare-knuckle tactics it devised to overcome obstacles in its quest for dominance. Based on hundreds of interviews with current and former Uber employees, along with previously unpublished documents, Super Pumped is a page-turning story of ambition and deception, obscene wealth and bad behaviour, that explores how blistering technological and financial innovation culminated in one of the most catastrophic twelve-month periods in American corporate history.
The current crisis of democracy, the growing economic inequality between rich and poor, our narcissistic social media culture and the looming menace of AI all threaten us as never before. The challenges presented by technology have long been central in these issues, but how can we take advantage of the opportunities it provides to shape a better twenty-first century? The most important division of our age is between the 'tomorrows', those who believe that the future can be better than the past, and the 'yesterdays' who harbor a nostalgic desire to return to a rose-tinted past. This division is encapsulated by how we answer a simple question: can we trust the future? In Tomorrows Versus Yesterdays, Andrew Keen discusses the issue with some of the most influential thinkers of our time. The book is split into four sections. The first identifies the challenges of our digital age. The second focuses on the failure of the internet revolution to realize its ambitious goals. The third untangles the complex relationship between populism and digital media, before the final part presents possible solutions to the challenges of our age. The result is an insightful examination of the most important issues facing us today, and essential reading for anyone interested in the impact of the digital revolution.
Merchants of Truth by Jill Abramson, former editor of The New York Times, is 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. 'A cracking, essential read ... [Abramson] knows where most of the bodies are buried and is prepared to draw the reader a detailed map' Guardian 'A masterwork ... vastly useful' Financial Times Drawing on revelatory access, Abramson takes us behind the scenes at four media titans during the most volatile years in news history. Two are maverick upstarts: BuzzFeed, the brain-child of virtuoso clickbait scientist Jonah Perretti, and VICE, led by the booze-fuelled anarcho-hipster Shane Smith. Their viral technology and disregard for the long-established standards of news journalism allow them to build game-changing billion-dollar businesses out of the millennial taste for puppies and nudity. The two others are among the world's most venerable news institutions: The New York Times, owned and run for generations by the Sulzberger dynasty, and The Washington Post, also family-owned but soon to be bought by the world's richest merchant of all, Jeff Bezos. Here Abramson reveals first-hand the seismic clashes that take place in the boardrooms and newsrooms as they are forced to choose between their cherished principles - objectivity and impartiality - and survival in a world where online advertising via Facebook and Google seems the only life-raft. We are with the deal-making tycoons, thrusting reporters and hard-bitten editors, the egomaniacs, bullshitters, provocateurs and bullies, as some surf and others drown in the breaking wave of change. And we watch as the survivors confront the horrifying cost of their success: sexual scandal, fake news, the election of President Trump, the shaking of democracy. Exposing the people and decisions that brought us to now, Merchants of Truth is a major book that breaks the ultimate news story of our times.
Biologists rely on theories, apply models and construct explanations, but rarely reflect on their nature and structure. This book introduces key topics in philosophy of science to provide the required philosophical background for this kind of reflection, which is an important part of all aspects of research and communication in biology. It concisely and accessibly addresses fundamental questions such as: Why should biologists care about philosophy of science? How do concepts contribute to scientific advancement? What is the nature of scientific controversies in the biological sciences? Chapters draw on contemporary examples and case studies from across biology, making the discussion relevant and insightful. Written for researchers and advanced undergraduate and graduate students across the life sciences, its aim is to encourage readers to become more philosophically minded and informed to enable better scientific practice. It is also an interesting and pertinent read for philosophers of science.
Colin Farrelly contemplates the various ethical and social quandaries raised by the genetic revolution. Recent biomedical advances such as genetic screening, gene therapy and genome editing might be used to promote equality of opportunity, reproductive freedom, healthy aging, and the prevention and treatment of disease. But these technologies also raise a host of ethical questions: Is the idea of "genetically engineering" humans a morally objectionable form of eugenics? Should parents undergoing IVF be permitted to screen embryos for the sex of their offspring? Would it be ethical to alter the rate at which humans age, greatly increasing longevity at a time when the human population is already at potentially unsustainable levels? Farrelly applies an original virtue ethics framework to assess these and other challenges posed by the genetic revolution. Chapters discuss virtue ethics in relation to eugenics, infectious and chronic disease, evolutionary biology, epigenetics, happiness, reproductive freedom and longevity. This fresh approach creates a roadmap for thinking ethically about technological progress that will be of practical use to ethicists and scientists for years to come. Accessible in tone and compellingly argued, this book is an ideal introduction for students of bioethics, applied ethics, biomedical sciences, and related courses in philosophy and life sciences.
More than half of American adults and more than seventy-five percent of young Americans believe in intelligent extraterrestrial life. This level of belief rivals that of belief in God. American Cosmic examines the mechanisms at work behind the thriving belief system in extraterrestrial life, a system that is changing and even supplanting traditional religions. Over the course of a six-year ethnographic study, D.W. Pasulka interviewed successful and influential scientists, professionals, and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who believe in extraterrestrial intelligence, thereby disproving the common misconception that only fringe members of society believe in UFOs. She argues that widespread belief in aliens is due to a number of factors including their ubiquity in modern media like The X-Files, which can influence memory, and the believability lent to that media by the search for planets that might support life. American Cosmic explores the intriguing question of how people interpret unexplainable experiences, and argues that the media is replacing religion as a cultural authority that offers believers answers about non-human intelligent life.
From DNA sequences stored on computer databases to archived forensic samples and biomedical records, bioinformation comes in many forms. Its unique provenance the fact that it is 'mined' from the very fabric of the human body makes it a mercurial resource; one that no one seemingly owns, but in which many have deeply vested interests. Who has the right to exploit and benefit from bioinformation? The individual or community from whom it was derived? The scientists and technicians who make its extraction both possible and meaningful or the commercial and political interests which fund this work? Who is excluded or even at risk from its commercialisation? And what threats and opportunities might the generation of 'Big Bioinformational Data' raise? In this groundbreaking book, authors Bronwyn Parry and Beth Greenhough explore the complex economic, social and political questions arising from the creation and use of bioinformation. Drawing on a range of highly topical cases, including the commercialization of human sequence data; the forensic use of retained bioinformation; biobanking and genealogical research, they show how demand for this resource has grown significantly driving a burgeoning but often highly controversial global economy in bioinformation. But, they argue, change is afoot as new models emerge that challenge the ethos of privatisation by creating instead a dynamic open source 'bioinformational commons' available for all future generations.
There are many who believe Moses parted the Red Sea and Jesus came back from the dead. Others are certain that exorcisms occur, ghosts haunt attics, and the blessed can cure the terminally ill. Though miracles are immensely improbable, people have embraced them for millennia, seeing in them proof of a supernatural world that resists scientific explanation. Helping us to think more critically about our belief in the improbable, The Miracle Myth casts a skeptical eye on attempts to justify belief in the supernatural, laying bare the fallacies that such attempts commit. Through arguments and accessible analysis, Larry Shapiro sharpens our critical faculties so we become less susceptible to tales of myths and miracles and learn how, ultimately, to evaluate claims regarding vastly improbable events on our own. Shapiro acknowledges that belief in miracles could be harmless, but cautions against allowing such beliefs to guide how we live our lives. His investigation reminds us of the importance of evidence and rational thinking as we explore the unknown.
Light is changing, dramatically. Our world is getting brighter - you can see it from space. But is brighter always better? Artificial light is voracious and spreading. Vanquishing precious darkness across the planet, when we are supposed to be using less energy. The quality of light has altered as well. Technology and legislation have crushed warm incandescent lighting in favour of harsher, often glaring alternatives. Light is fundamental - it really matters. It interacts with life in profound yet subtle ways: it tells plants which way to grow, birds where to fly and coral when to spawn. It tells each and every one of us when to sleep, wake, eat. We mess with the eternal rhythm of dawn-day-dusk-night at our peril. But mess with it we have, and we still don't truly understand the consequences. In Incandescent, journalist Anna Levin reveals her own fraught relationship with changes in lighting, and she explores its real impact on nature, our built environment, health and psychological well-being. We need to talk about light, urgently. And ask the critical question: just how bright is our future?
Political revolutions, economic meltdowns, mass ideological conversions and collective innovation adoptions occur often, but when they do happen, they tend to be the least expected. Based on the paradigm of 'leading from the periphery', this groundbreaking analysis offers an explanation for such spontaneity and apparent lack of leadership in contentious collective action. Contrary to existing theories, the author argues that network effects in collective action originating from marginal leaders can benefit from a total lack of communication. Such network effects persist in isolated islands of contention instead of overarching action cascades, and are shown to escalate in globally dispersed, but locally concentrated networks of contention. This is a trait that can empower marginal leaders and set forth social dynamics distinct from those originating in the limelight. Leading from the Periphery and Network Collective Action provides evidence from two Middle Eastern uprisings, as well as behavioral experiments of collective risk-taking in social networks.
In an era of accelerating technology and increasing complexity, how should we reimagine the emancipatory potential of feminism? How should gender politics be reconfigured in a world being transformed by automation, globalization and the digital revolution? These questions are addressed in this bold new book by Helen Hester, a founding member of the 'Laboria Cuboniks' collective that developed the acclaimed manifesto 'Xenofeminism: A Politics for Alienation'. Hester develops a three-part definition of xenofeminism grounded in the ideas of technomaterialism, anti-naturalism, and gender abolitionism. She elaborates these ideas in relation to assistive reproductive technologies and interrogates the relationship between reproduction and futurity, while steering clear of a problematic anti-natalism. Finally, she examines what xenofeminist technologies might look like in practice, using the history of one specific device to argue for a future-oriented gender politics that can facilitate alternative models of reproduction. Challenging and iconoclastic, this visionary book is the essential guide to one of the most exciting intellectual trends in contemporary feminism.
Privacy is gravely endangered in the digital age, and we, the digital citizens, are its principal threat, willingly surrendering it to avail ourselves of new technology, and granting the government and corporations immense power over us. In this highly original work, Firmin DeBrabander begins with this premise and asks how we can ensure and protect our freedom in the absence of privacy. Can-and should-we rally anew to support this institution? Is privacy so important to political liberty after all? DeBrabander makes the case that privacy is a poor foundation for democracy, that it is a relatively new value that has been rarely enjoyed throughout history-but constantly persecuted-and politically and philosophically suspect. The vitality of the public realm, he argues, is far more significant to the health of our democracy, but is equally endangered-and often overlooked-in the digital age.
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