A technology company, Eden, matches people's profiles so accurately that everyone matched as been a great couple. No mis-matches. A few unique couplesA technology company, Eden, matches people's profiles so accurately that everyone matched as been a great couple. No mis-matches. A few unique couples were 100% perfect personality matches that are called super couples. The story begins when one of those couples are found dead by apparent suicide. A forensic psychologist is called as a consultant in to help solve the mystery of why they would kill themselves. Then another super couple is found dead and it's a race to solve this mystery before the third couple dies.
Some of the story here was fairly predicable. I could see the ending from nearly a quarter of the way in. Yet I kept going because some of it was interesting and entertaining. Nothing very unique in this story, particularly when looking at A.I. that's described in a book written 15 years ago now. Maybe when it came it out it was more cutting edge. Despite that, the book went along at a good clip.
One slight critique was there never was a mention at any point about matching same sex couples. And it was always assumed these couples would marry and have children. Anyway, the couple matching was secondary to the story. What really marred the story was overlooking some obvious clues. Also the main character, the psychologist continually ignoring all these annoying quirks that kept happening to him, like his mail missing and declined credit cards. The story was not as good as it could have been....more
There's something about this book, about the writing style that annoyed me. In the beginning it was the repetition of information. As the story went oThere's something about this book, about the writing style that annoyed me. In the beginning it was the repetition of information. As the story went on it didn't seems so obvious, but still there was something about this book that just didn't work. The occasional drop in of someone else’s story maybe. Put there for some purpose but didn't really help too well overall. Maybe the extra dreamland of the main character that also seemed to have no real purpose.
The basic premise of the story was interesting, and some might think we as humans are leading towards this, which is nanotechnology inside our body to fix where the biology goes wrong. In the book they call the tech biomites. And sometimes is isn't the biology that goes wrong, it's just someone wants to change something about their body, like maybe eye color. The book explores, perhaps and not very well, where is the line between human and machine. In the book they shut people down, i.e. kill, when they become half-skin, or have 50% biomites. There isn't any consideration on why a particular human was seeded with biomites, but once they do they seem to replicate, much like cancer. Now if the book explored more the machine vs. human aspect that may have made for a better book. The story was more about action than philosophy, and this one needed a little more of the later.
I didn’t think the book ended well either. It felt like the story wasn’t over. I get that authors do this to begin a series, get you hooked to keep reading. But I just read another book by a classic SF author, and it was also the first in a series as well and it didn't leave you hanging. It didn't resolve everything, of course, but there wasn't this huge obvious ploy to get to the next book. To me it's a sign of weak writing. The author can't trust the reader will stick around for the next book unless there's a big cliffhanger or nearly everything is unresolved. Starting to think maybe I should stop reading modern science fiction that is a start of a series.
I received a free copy of the audio version of the book by the narrator for a fair review. I think the narrator did a fine job, my disappointment was more about the writing and story not the narration.
Pre-Reading Note: Admittedly skeptical about the premise of this book. I want self-driving cars! And don't think this is going to make me less human iPre-Reading Note: Admittedly skeptical about the premise of this book. I want self-driving cars! And don't think this is going to make me less human if a computer drives my car. Instead it will give me more time in my day, which is what automation should do for us, take out the tedious so we have that time for other pursuits. In any case, will attempt this book....more
First part reminded me of Terminator without the determinism. The story is unfolded in reports from Cormac Wallace, each character viewpoint begins anFirst part reminded me of Terminator without the determinism. The story is unfolded in reports from Cormac Wallace, each character viewpoint begins and ends with short comments of Wallace. I think it detracted from the story. As the book went on I got bored with it, hardly cared the outcome since it was predictable. Generous with a rating of three stars....more
The book covers many topics in a broad way, while not getting into any good depth. Despite the title the last few chapters are hopeful, as they look aThe book covers many topics in a broad way, while not getting into any good depth. Despite the title the last few chapters are hopeful, as they look at the possibility of alien life or our potential to get off the planet where we reside. Written over ten years ago now, this is surprisingly not a dated book at all, still quite relevant, with a few exceptions of course. Just an okay book, not stunning or revelatory; more for someone just getting into the topics of how humans can fail big. If you have any knowledge about asteroid impacts or grey goo, this book will be too cursory. Three and a half stars....more
In this book Kaku tackles many of the ideas and technologies that keep popping up in science fiction books, movies and television shows. He discussesIn this book Kaku tackles many of the ideas and technologies that keep popping up in science fiction books, movies and television shows. He discusses each topic with details about what this may entail. Kaku looks at what scientists and physicists are researching and studying and concludes by classifying into one of three categories of impossibility.
The first class is what is actually possible, but will likely take a long time to get there, maybe within 100 years. The second class is also possible, maybe. We humans will have to advance quite a lot to get there, perhaps in 1,000 years or 100,000 years, a very long while before we can realize it. Under the class 2 impossibilities Kaku lists things such as faster than light travel, time travel and parallel universes. And the last class is what really is impossible as it defies the laws of physics. Turns out he claims there are only two things impossible: perpetual motion machines and precognition, that is to know the future.
So good news teleporters, force fields and invisibility is possible! We just have to wait.
Waiting, the downside. Well in some cases the waiting is not that long. There are a few cases that Kaku says is technologically possible, but not for a long while, in the class 1 impossibility. But actually we will have this much, much sooner. Kaku downplays the timeline too much. Take self-driving cars, or as he calls it driverless vehicles. Kaku discusses how impossible this is in the near future due to the lack of computer processing power for the real-time navigation which a driverless car would need. This is under the section of robots, where he says they have an extreme difficulty interpreting our world which they see as lines and curves, and we process as objects in an instant. Basically our technology and computing power will need to develop much further before this is possible.
Kaku did cite the tremendous leap forward in self-driving cars that was made between the years 2004 and 2005, but discounted it since the 2005 cars used GPS navigation instead of responding to live conditions and seeing what was on the road. But today there are self-driving cars. In 2011 Nevada changed their DMV laws to permit autonomous cars, since at least one was using the roads already. Certainly there are not many around, and not sure when you can buy one (Nissan claims they will be selling them by 2020), in any case there are only a few on the road today. And they aren’t being run on GPS systems, but seeing the road, other vehicles and responding. We also see in a larger number cars with self-parking features. So, Kaku missed this one by many decades as it does exist.
Another miss was under the psychokinesis section during the discussion of replicators, like you’d find on Star Trek. Now one of those would be cool! We can get there, and we are closer than Kaku thinks. What he missed when he wrote this book is 3D printers. Granted right now they are printing primarily only plastic objects, but this current technology wasn’t on his radar when the book was written (2008 published, so maybe a year earlier). The 3D printers also have to be programed to print out your object, so not so easy as walking up to a computer panel and asking for Earl Grey, hot and it instantly appearing. During this discussion Kaku mentions that nanorobots would need to be used in order to truly have a replicator type machine. He also talks about Neil Gershenfeld at MIT who has been making it his mission to develop this technology that he calls a personal fabricator. Kaku states that we are trying to accomplish in a few decades what nature did in 3 ½ billion years, so it will take a while. But will it?
Undeniably it is tricky to predict exactly when certain technologies will become a reality. While Kaku does place nearly everything into the possible, albeit a long way off, it’s much closer than you think. And I think closer than Kaku thought in 2008.
In the end I would recommend this book. There is a huge wealth of information about science and physics, past and future, and the joy about hearing how popular science fiction technologies can be a reality. ...more
Nexus takes place in the near future and doesn’t look too different than the world of today. Ramez Naam attempts to write about a future that is entirNexus takes place in the near future and doesn’t look too different than the world of today. Ramez Naam attempts to write about a future that is entirely plausible. The story itself revolves around a young grad student, Kade, who gets sucked into becoming a spy for an agency he does not believe in. His research and work is around a drug called Nexus that links people’s minds together temporarily. But Kade and his group has worked with version 5.0 which is installed more like a computer program within the drug and can be permanent. This is verging on becoming transhuman which is outlawed.
The book goes at a good clip, not too fast but not too slow either. Often the issues behind the actions are discussed by the characters, either with each other or in Kade’s case with himself. Kade keeps bumping against his morality, what is the right thing to do. For example, when Kade was busted over 100 people could go to jail and other serious consequences, but if he cooperates with the feds then they would go free.
It’s an interesting book. At times it felt more like a spy thriller than anything, which isn’t what I normally like to read. Fight scenes are easier watched than read about. This is the start of a series, and will look for the next book. Last year I read Naam’s non-fiction book which is very similar in topic. I will say he writes better fiction.
As civilizations learn and add new technologies their wisdom doesn't not always advance as fast as science. So with these new tools you can do something stupid and destroy your species, or use them and enhance yourselves. (Kaku says this is one reason why we may not know about other alien beings yet.) Which way will we go?
For a better idea of what is covered: The Chapters: 1. Future of the Computer: Mind over Matter 2. Future of AI: Rise of the Machines 3. Future of Medicine: Perfection and Beyond 4. Nanotechnology: Everything from Nothing? 5. Future of Energy: Energy from the Stars 6. Future of Space Travel: To the Stars 7. Future of Wealth 8. Future of Humanity: Planetary Civilization 9. A Day in the Life in 2100.
I could have done without the last chapter "A day in 2100," which was extended much longer than one day. I think it made the book weaker overall.
The book is about technology more than physics. Interesting and informative of where we could be going. ...more
Jan. 13 2014 update: finally got around to finishing brief summaries on each article. Essay Title (author) then page # it starts on. Gives an idea howJan. 13 2014 update: finally got around to finishing brief summaries on each article. Essay Title (author) then page # it starts on. Gives an idea how long each essay is.
Introduction (Clive Thompson) -pg. 1 Doctor Delicious (Ted Allen) -pg. 7 Over-the-top tech cooking, starts out with most time consuming making of a gin & tonic. New ways to cook with invented tools.
Say Everything (Emily Nussbaum) -pg. 19 The younger generation is completely online. Nussbaum investigates how privacy is not an issue for those born with the computer age already running full force as they grow up. Their online presence is taken much differently than people even of my age....for them it’s almost like - if it isn't online it isn't real. Here is a rough quote from one girl she interviews: "if you go to a party what's the point of being there if you don't get a photo and post it."
The Pedal-to-the-Metal, Totally Illegal, Cross-Country Sprint for Glory (Charles Graeber) -pg. 39 About a rich man's obsession with driving & breaking records, particularly the across the US. Also mentions the speed film Le Rendezvous done in Paris, he tried to film one similar in New York City. Not sure it ever did get done...had lots of problems with getting it done. Main part of story is one of his attempts at a cross county speed record, and since technology is getting better at tracking it may be his last chance.
The Polarization of Extremes (Cass R. Sunstein) -pg. 62 Short article about news feeds and everything you read on the internet being catered to your own interest, unlike a typical printed newspaper with articles on other subjects. The catering will lead to entrenchment of already held beliefs, or so the author proposes. Something that seems logical.
Fragmentary Knowledge (John Seabrook) -pg. 69 About the Antikythera Mechanism found in 1900 the Angean Sea (Greece) and approximately 2,000 years old. Unknown what it does, complicated clock or world’s first computer. Years of research has gone into this device, and some people have become obsessed with discovering its purpose. Better scanning devices have revealed writing, and latest theory is a complicated type of toy that shows the rotation of the known planets at that time.
The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer (Julian Dibbell) –pg. 91 Very enjoyable article about WoW (World of Warcraft) and gold farming.
How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook (Cory Doctorow) -pg. 107 How everyone is on facebook, especially those people you want to leave in your past. Yes! So do you ignore them, add them, modify your posts to cater to different groups?
The Meteor Farmer (Ben Paynter) -pg. 112 Reminded me of The Meteor Hunters TV program….maybe even this article is about one of those guys.
Breaking D-Wave (Alex Hutchinson) -pg. 123 Quantum Computers. Wow!! If they could get up and running.
Your DNA Decoded (Thomas Goetz) -pg. 132 How you could find out about potential genetic health issues, and a company that just started (although a while ago now) to provide for cheap DNA sequencing. The article also poses the idea that once everyone has their DNA sequenced it will change everything. Once you know your DNA it changes your life…but when everyone does it the scientists have significantly more data, so how we will live will be vastly different (maybe).
The Autumn of the Multitaskers (Walter Kirn) -pg. 152 How young people claim to be able to multitask, but really our brains can’t handle it, so they are actually harming themselves.
The Brain on the Stand (Jeffrey Rosen) -pg. 172 Neurology and the Law. Things are a changing.
Twilight of the Books (Caleb Crain) -pg. 197 The demise of reading literature. Americans don’t read anymore, on decline for decades. And this isn’t good for a democracy. So we readers should encourage non-readers to pick up a book or two.
These Images Document an Atrocity (Robin Mejia) -pg. 212 Trying to track genocide and other atrocities in countries that are remote, or refuse to let any international agencies into the country. Uses digital satellite images to track burnings of villages and mass movements of peoples.
The Prophet of Garbage (Michael Behar) -pg. 226 Technology that burns garbage with plasma and use the energy created (steam) as a clean energy source. Some skeptical that the small amount of waste stuff isn’t harmful to the environment, but likely is. In the end it may be the best solution, runs itself and burns all types of garbage (medical waste, chemicals, just about everything) and cleans the garbage due to the extremely hot temperatures. At time of article just getting started….is it selling yet or failed?
The (Josh) Marshall Plan (David Glenn) -pg. 235 About news reporting, via the web, but more engaged with the readership, who sometimes helps with the stories, etc.
About the Contributors -pg. 255
Sept. 2013 upon completion: I really enjoyed this collection of essays. Too bad the publisher didn't continue the series. There are two other collections, but from prior years. I may take a look at them anyway, although technology ages super fast.
Oct. 2 2013 update: found that Yale University Press published the next two years, 2009 & 2010. Still not recent years, at least in technology terms, but will look for these....more
Uses a modified Maslow's hierarchy of needs as an organizing principle to the book (water, food, energy, healthcare, education, & freedom) to showUses a modified Maslow's hierarchy of needs as an organizing principle to the book (water, food, energy, healthcare, education, & freedom) to show how the world's population will become better off than you may think, and in the near future. The authors discuss recent research in science and technology, along with some past amazing accomplishments. They dip slightly into the arena of Ray Kurzweil as well, as Diamandis is a co-founder of the Singularity University. And don't forget the law of exponential growth. They make it sound very attainable, but there may be setbacks and issues that arise that have not been considered at all in the book. An overwhelming positive view for the future....more