Given below are my reviews and personal opinions on books I have read, enjoyed, and learned a great deal from. They consist of different genres (both fiction and nonfiction) that have extended my understanding and knowledge on a wide array of topics, such as software development, science and technology, the liberal arts, the future of our world, and much more.
*The list decreases in chronological order, i.e. the latest book will be at the top of the list…
Future Science: Essays from the cutting edge is a fantastic array of write-ups collected and compiled together by Max Brockman in this book. It contains essays from scientists who are conducting cutting edge research and investigating ideas at the very edge of our understanding. The essays span across ideas such as how learning about our oceans here on earth can help astrobiological explorations in the oceans of Jupiter’s moon Europa, how analytics on massive data sets teach us about ourselves, a refreshingly new perspective on the concept of infinity, primates being taught how to use money and barter in order to investigate how strategy and reward systems evolved in human ancestors, and much more. A great book to read if you are curious about current research topics and ideas that are at the forefront of our understanding and investigative capabilities.
Ray Kurzweil is an author, computer scientist, inventor, and futurist. Apart from receiving twenty one honorary doctorates, as well as honors from three US presidents, he is coined as the ‘restless genius’ by the Wall Street Journal and as the ‘ultimate thinking machine’ by Forbes. He is also a proponent of the transhumanist and futurist movements, which is reflected in How to Create a Mind, his latest book at the time of this writing. The book has some very interesting premises, touching on a wide array of topics. Mainly, the author presents his pattern recognition theory of mind, as a model of the human neocortex, and goes on to describe the journey of how the blueprint of the mind can be mapped, understood, and replicated one day. Many topics are discussed, ranging from applications of vector quantization, hidden markov models, and the biology of the brain, to turing machines, consciousness, free will, the rise of intelligent machines, and human transcendence via technology. One of my favourite quotes from the book goes as follows: “The last invention that biological evolution needed to make-the neocortex-is inevitably leading to the last invention that humanity needs to make-truly intelligent machines-and the design of one is inspiring the other”. If a truly intelligent machine can invent anything humans can invent (including other intelligent machines), a thousand times better, then they are truly the last invention we will ever need to make.
‘The Dark Net: Inside the digital underworld’ is an amazing journey through the underbelly of the internet that we never see in everyday life. Unless you have been navigating the dark web using a TOR browser, it’s more akin to a fairy tale where we go on in life believing it never exists. This book shows the darkest recesses of the dark web/net, the strangest things that can happen there, how it impacts personal lives and society, and more importantly, how it could actually be driving political change in the real world (Book image credits: image credits link)
Seveneves is a work of science fiction by one of the best authors in the techno-punk/Scifi genres, Neal Stephenson. It is an epic tale spanning a large time scale within the story, and I have written more about it in a blog post here (Book image credits: image credits link)