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Science Books

May 17, 2007

Beyond AI: Creating the Conscience of the Machine
J. Storrs Hall (2007)
ISBN: 1591025117

Whether or not scientists will ever create an artificial intelligence (AI) that can match, or surpass, our own abilities is open to debate. There are already robots competent enough to drive cars, play sports, and organize information beyond that of human capabilities, but one question that is beginning to nag away at AI analysts is whether or not developing a conscience, or an ethical sensibility, comes as standard with the whole intelligence package. Put simply, would an intelligent android capable of parlaying with humans automatically recognize and adhere to human principles, mores, and moral codes? Or, alternatively, would an android need to be programmed to understand such social graces? One man willing to confront this complex techno-philosophical problem head-on is J. Storrs Hall, founding chief scientist of Nanorex Inc. and the author of Nanofuture. Hall presents a future where 'bots may write news stories, novels, or even laws; and posits why, in such circumstances, it would be essential for them to have a conscience. Drawing on thirty years of experience in the field, Hall takes a multifaceted approach to the problem of AI ethics, including discussions on computer science, cybernetics, psychology, economics, philosophy of mind, neurophysiology, and game theory. Beyond AI is a fascinating insight into today's cutting-edge AI research.

The Lazy Environmentalist: Your Guide to Easy, Stylish, Green Living
Josh Dorfman (2007)
ISBN: 1584796022

Ok, the idea of chaining yourself to a tree doesn't appeal to you, yet you are anxious to do your bit for the environment. Thankfully, Josh Dorfman, creator and host of the radio program The Lazy Environmentalist, explains that we don't have to rise before the sun on a cold morning to lie-down in front of a bulldozer to establish our green credentials. In fact, now you can care about the environment just as much as you care about home improvements. In The Lazy Environmentalist, Dorfman makes it easy for consumers to find out which are the greenest - and, importantly, most stylish - products on the market, be they cars, home décor, toothbrushes, electronic gadgetry, or even products for your pets. Chris Paine, writer and director of Who Killed the Electric Car?, puts it best when he says of The Lazy Environmentalist; "Everything you always wanted to know about greener living but were afraid to spend the rest of your life researching." Now everybody can live a greener life and make the world a better place, and at the same time doing it in style!

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