book review

A -post collection

The Robots Are Coming: Grappling with Our AI Future

A superintelligent computer seizing control of the world's nuclear arsenal. Robots for every human need, from housecleaning to filing your taxes. A dystopian future in which social scores determine who you marry, what job you get, and where you live. These may sound like plots for this year's top science fiction novels, but to the authors reviewed in this essay, they are anything but imagined realities—they are our possible future. This review tackles introductory reading material about AI from three angles: why AI might destroy humanity, why AI might destroy the economy, and the new who's who of in the international AI race. If you read all three, you will reach expert-level AI doomsayer—just in time for the robot apocalypse. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, and

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Book Review: Birth of a Theorem by Cédric Villani

Have you ever thought about your ideal guest list for the best dinner party imaginable? One with never-ending conversation on a range of topics? Mine would include several favorite authors and artists. However, no truly amazing dinner party would be complete without a cohort of mathematicians (and a few physicists, but I'll leave my love of physicists for future articles). Some may think I'm joking, but those of you who have spent hours in dark corners of bars in the presence of this noble, calculating breed know why: these super-human creatures turn set theory and topology into intellectual delights for those of us who were lucky to even pass calculus. For those poor souls who have not had yet the pleasure of spontaneous, beer-infused mathematics lectures,

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What Happens When We Read Like David Bowie

Our minds are the sum of what we absorb from our environment, who we surround ourselves with, and how we choose to spend our days. We aren't what we eat; we are what we read, see, hear, smell, do, and eat. Each human mind is the totality of one flesh bag's experience in this crazy universe, colliding and collaborating with everything we encounter as we hurl through space. It follows, then, that we cannot become more like someone else because duplicating an entire life is impossible. Although reading lists abound promising brains like Bill Gates and investing prowess like Warren Buffet, we are only adding a small piece of someone's experience to our own. We cannot isolate one aspect of a being, absorb it, and become

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Book Review: Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom by Ken Ilgunas

Ah, the coming of age adventure memoir - one of my favorite genres. Ken Illgunas's book Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom shares plot points with others in the genre: boy becomes disillusioned with modern American society and disdains the 9 to 5 cubicle grind. Boy makes the harrowing journey hitchhiking across the country, encountering the great grizzly bear in Alaska's wilderness, and falling in love on the trail. Throw in a little financial advice - in this case, how to get out of student loan debt, or any large debt, and fast - and you've got a winning piece of nonfiction for the millennial generation. Illgunas writes for a generation that was promised a certain level of financial freedom after

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Book Review: The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King by Rich Cohen

Bananas, it turns out, don't grow on trees, but instead are large herbs and are best classified as berries. The plant, which is actually a tall grass, can grow - from a cutting and not a seed - twenty inches in twenty-four hours. The banana we eat in the United States, the Cavendish variety, is not the one that first graced our grocery store aisles; that banana, the Big Mike, is now extinct. In fact, we get our "slippery banana peel" comedy from the Big Mike, with its slimy skin. To the dismay of grade-school comedians everywhere, the Cavendish isn't slippery at all. If these banana facts astonish you, you may be delighted to know that these and more are buried in the pages

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