October 15, 2013
I almost wish this WAS only science fiction
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is not something only relegated to science fiction. It is a reality. Most people immediately think of their smartphones but what about the machinery that powers cities? Would you consider that to be a facet of AI? It could be argued that because many pieces of an electrical grid are run without human interference (or understanding as to why certain parts work the way that they do) that it is a type of AI. However, the book Our Final Invention is about what happens when AI turns from AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) to ASI (Artificial Super Intelligence). At that stage, machinery becomes self-sufficient, self-aware, and self-improving. It's surpassed human intelligence and can continue to improve itself and become even more intelligent. Barrat believes that at this point the machinery which should not be compared to humans will not have "feelings" about its creators. It will wipe us out in its quest to fulfill its own goals and agendas. Replication on a global scale will occur and all matter than can be used for that purpose will be used even if that matter is humanity as a whole. There are some decidedly scary concepts housed within the pages of this book. As if to ram the point home I ran across this article today which talks about the rapid growth of Artificial Intelligence and how the vast majority of the populace is completely unaware of the advances being made RIGHT NOW. Chilling, eye-opening stuff. Conspiracy theorists will be eating this book up.
Blood Work: A tale of medicine & murder in the scientific revolution by Holly Tucker is more than just a history of blood transfusions. It is more than historical nonfiction wrapped up in scientific jargon. It is a political discourse on humanity and its moral and political evolution. The same issues that plagued people in the 17th century seem to be plaguing us today. Is it morally wrong to experiment on humans if it will help the human race as a whole? Is it an abomination against God to put animal's blood inside of a person's body in the hopes that it will help them to survive? I have no idea if this book will even come close to answering these questions but I'm fairly positive it will raise even more intriguing questions while delivering a fascinating depiction of science unfolding.