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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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: 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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Book Review: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway wrote and rewrote A Moveable Feast, the memoir of his impoverished years as a young writer in Paris, but was never satisfied. He could not decide on a title, or an ending, or which chapters to include or reject. In the end, he did not decide any of this. His editors (first his fourth wife and then, in a later edition, his grandson) chose for him posthumously. This is the version of A Moveable Feast we read today: a pieced together memoir Hemingway himself never finished. Yet, the fragments lend humanity to a literary legend, bringing author and reader closer together. A Moveable Feast is a jaunt through the St. Germaine district of Paris. As he drinks at bars, writes and dines in cafes,

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Book Review: Luck Favors the Prepared by Nathaniel Barber

In the first sentence of what turns into an uncommonly poignant and funny book, Nathaniel Barber dives headlong into a familiar topic: the interview for the job your don't want. We've all been there, sitting across from our future boss, being talked out of a position we never really wanted anyway. We all come to the same conclusion: My team would be cordial, for a day or two. But they'd eventually come to believe, as a district implant, I'd stolen their rightful path to middle management. He passes on the job and gets a new one. Unfortunately for Barber, as he walks to work on his first day, a man in a window somewhere above pisses on him. This, we learn, is just his luck. What

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