I’ve been traveling in Asia this week which affords me more time than usual to read. Either the other side of the world is asleep or I’m stuck in transit constantly without wifi so I write, and read. Here’s what I’m reading this week:
Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom
I had a unique opportunity to meet Nick in Munich not too long ago and didn’t realize that the man I met wrote this book until after I started reading it, and looked at the back cover.
Nick is pretty far out there. He writes and talks about the development of the digital or virtual mind as something that is already real. As someone described to me, it’s because in his mind it’s a guarantee these things exist in the future. The book is entirely about what happens when digital brains or AI start to develop in the world and the ramifications for the rest of us walking around in these organic suits, so to speak.
One of the things I truly appreciate about this book is the healthy use of the notes section in the back of the book. Nick repeatedly beats you over the head with facts and cites their source and meaning. I’d hate to get stuck in a debate with him about why what he believes may or may not be possible.
The book is written like a computer wrote it. The notes are referenced by what feels like a computer making sure that us humans aren’t confused by reading it since we don’t know as much as the computer.
On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss
I’ve been trying to finish this book for a while. The author writes so eloquently that I feel the need to re-read sentences quite frequently not because of the complexity but because of how thoughtful they are.
The book, is really what reads as a memoir and internal thoughts of whether or not vaccination is good written by an extremely eloquent and intelligent author.
The most intriguing sections to me are the parts of the book that consider the effects of that which we can’t know, describe, or measure yet. The things which medical science allows us to measure may actually be exceeded by the things which it can’t. It’s thoughtful.