How to Create a Mind - Ray Kurzweil

If artificial intelligence once seemed daunting or simply unrealistic, those days are gone. As Ray Kurzweil, one of AI’s most energetic visionaries points out, today we’re surrounded by the fruits of AI, from email and smart phones to Watson, the “15-terabyte” Jeopardy! Champion—not to mention the automated factories that built these machines. In How to Create a Mind (Viking, $27.95), Kurzweil tells us what’s next. But first, like the innovative science he describes, he looks back. Surveying the human mind’s great accomplishments, such as the theories of evolution and relativity (and problems it’s still working on, like the nature of consciousness and free will), Kurzweil lays out the fascinating neuroscience of thinking, focusing on the brain’s predilection for patterns. The brain doesn’t only identify patterns, it’s made of them itself, and by turning this information back on its source, we can create ever more complex synthetic versions of mind. As he did in his ground-breaking The Age of Spiritual Machines, Kurzweil makes cutting-edge technology clear and vivid; after all, everyone is part computer geek now.

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed By Ray Kurzweil Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143124047
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - August 27th, 2013

A Little History of Science - William Bynum

Whatever first prompted people to ask why? and how?, the questions have led to discoveries ranging from photosynthesis to genes to gravity to quarks. This ongoing “human endeavor to understand the world” is the theme of A Little History of Science (Yale Univ., $25), William Bynum’s contribution to the popular series modeled on E. H. Gombrich’s enchanting A Little History of the World. Bynum, too, was charmed by the 1935 survey for young people, and he has followed his predecessor’s winning formula of brief, brisk chapters that cover an astonishing number of topics in clear, conversational language. “Science is special,” Bynum declares—and proves it, delving into its many branches and outlining the work not just of major European thinkers but those of ancient and Eastern peoples. He also defines terms, explains technologies, and traces how one experiment leads to the next. In short, the book tells a story of wonder and surprise; designed for young people, yes—but written for everyone.

A Little History of Science By William Bynum Cover Image
ISBN: 9780300136593
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Yale University Press - October 15th, 2012

A Little History of Science (Little Histories) By William Bynum Cover Image
ISBN: 9780300197136
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Yale University Press - September 10th, 2013

Spillover - David Quammen

In his new book Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic (W.W. Norton, $28.95), the veteran science and nature writer David Quammen explores the origins of zoonotic diseases, i.e., infections that jump from animals to humans, such as Ebola, AIDS, SARS, and others. His investigation into the origins of these diseases evokes a peculiar and chilling epidemiological landscape. Quammen goes out into the field and visits places like Bangladesh, Gabon, Australia, and China to talk to scientists, researchers, and survivors of these new maladies. He speculates about the source of the next big pandemic and whether we can predict, let alone prevent, its emergence. This is a masterfully done piece of scientific writing that’s as informative as it is unsettling.

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic By David Quammen Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393346619
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 9th, 2013