Books to add to your "to be read" pile for 2024. I have not read all of these, but I hope to get to them all soon. If you are looking for a monthly read, I have 12 books listed here. If you have read one of these and would like to leave comments, please do so. Some of the last books on the list are not yet out, as of the posting of this, but will be out soon.
Brainwashed: A New History of Thought Control by Daniel Pick (2022)
This is on my to-be-read list. This explores the history of brainwashing, the concept of a "Manchurian Candidate", advertising, online algorithms, etc. We see a lot of these concepts in dystopian and sci-fi novels.
FutureGood: How to Use Futurism to Save the World by Trista Harris (2018)
This is a social and business perspective on positive futurism to change the world, as the title states. Includes insights from current visionary thinkers.
Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier by Katie Hafner and John Markoff (2016)
Cyberpunk, originally published in 1991 and considered a timeless classic, explores the exploits of three international computer hackers. Cyberpunk provides a fascinating tour of a bizarre subculture populated by outlaws who penetrate even the most sensitive computer networks. The three hackers profiled are Kevin Mitnick, Robert Tappan Morris (who released the infamous Internet Worm in 1988) and a young German named Pengo who, together with a band of other West Germans, sold purloined data to the KGB.
Bugs for Beginners by Michela Dai Zovi (2018)
This is a great cookbook if you are interested in exploring entomophagy (eating insects). It explains preparation, cooking, and making recipes that range from not-super-buggy to pretty-buggy. Bugs are considered the new potential food of the future since it's a renewable source of protein. Insects may be a future food item seen in space.
Robot Ethics 2.0 by Patrick Lin, Keith Abney, Ryan Jenkins (2017)
The robot population is rising on Earth and other planets. (Mars is inhabited entirely by robots.) As robots slip into more domains of human life--from the operating room to the bedroom--they take on our morally important tasks and decisions, as well as create new risks from psychological to physical. This makes it all the more urgent to study their ethical, legal, and policy impacts.
Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford (2016)
What are the jobs of the future? How many will there be? And who will have them? As technology continues to accelerate and machines begin taking care of themselves, fewer people will be necessary. Artificial intelligence is already well on its way to making "good jobs" obsolete: many paralegals, journalists, office workers, and even computer programmers are poised to be replaced by robots and smart software. As progress continues, blue and white collar jobs alike will evaporate, squeezing working -- and middle-class families ever further. At the same time, households are under assault from exploding costs, especially from the two major industries-education and health care-that, so far, have not been transformed by information technology. The result could well be massive unemployment and inequality as well as the implosion of the consumer economy itself.
A City on Mars by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith (2023)
Earth is not well. The promise of starting life anew somewhere far, far away—no climate change, no war, no Twitter—beckons, and settling the stars finally seems within our grasp. Or is it? Critically acclaimed, bestselling authors Kelly and Zach Weinersmith set out to write the essential guide to a glorious future of space settlements, but after years of research, they aren’t so sure it’s a good idea. Space technologies and space business are progressing fast, but we lack the knowledge needed to have space kids, build space farms, and create space nations in a way that doesn’t spark conflict back home. In a world hurtling toward human expansion into space, A City on Mars investigates whether the dream of new worlds won’t create nightmares, both for settlers and the people they leave behind. In the process, the Weinersmiths answer every question about space you’ve ever wondered about, and many you’ve never considered: Can you make babies in space? Should corporations govern space settlements? What about space war? Are we headed for a housing crisis on the Moon’s Peaks of Eternal Light—and what happens if you’re left in the Craters of Eternal Darkness? Why do astronauts love taco sauce? Speaking of meals, what’s the legal status of space cannibalism?
Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century by Mark Dery (2007)
Mark Dery takes us on an electrifying tour of the high-tech underground. Investigating the shadowy byways of cyberculture, we meet would-be cyborgs who believe the body is obsolete and dream of downloading their minds into computers, cyberhippies who boost their brainpower with smart drugs and mind machines, techno-primitives who sport “biomechanical” tattoos of computer circuitry, and cyberpunk roboticists whose dystopian contraptions duel to the death before howling crowds.
Not the End of the World: How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet by Hannah Ritchie (2024)
It’s become common to tell kids that they’re going to die from climate change. We are constantly bombarded by doomsday headlines that tell us the soil won’t be able to support crops, fish will vanish from our oceans, and that we should reconsider having children. Packed with the latest research, practical guidance, and enlightening graphics, this book will make you rethink almost everything you’ve been told about the environment. Not the End of the World will give you the tools to understand our current crisis and make lifestyle changes that actually have an impact. Hannah cuts through the noise by outlining what works, what doesn’t, and what we urgently need to focus on so we can leave a sustainable planet for future generations.
The Allure of the Multiverse: Extra Dimensions, Other Worlds, and Parallel Universes by Paul Halpern (2024)
In The Allure of the Multiverse, physicist Paul Halpern tells the epic story of how science became besotted with the multiverse, and the controversies that ensued. The questions that brought scientists to this point are big and deep: Is reality such that anything can happen, must happen? How does quantum mechanics “choose” the outcomes of its apparently random processes? And why is the universe habitable? Each question quickly leads to the multiverse. Drawing on centuries of disputation and deep vision, from luminaries like Nietzsche, Einstein, and the creators of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Halpern reveals the multiplicity of multiverses that scientists have imagined to make sense of our reality. Whether we live in one of many different possible universes, or simply the only one there is, might never be certain. But Halpern shows one thing for sure: how stimulating it can be to try to find out.
AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future by Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan (2021)
In this “inspired collaboration” (The Wall Street Journal), Lee and Chen join forces to imagine our world in 2041 and how it will be shaped by AI. In ten gripping, globe-spanning short stories and accompanying commentary, their book introduces readers to an array of eye-opening settings and characters grappling with the new abundance and potential harms of AI technologies like deep learning, mixed reality, robotics, artificial general intelligence, and autonomous weapons.
Perplexing Paradoxes: Unraveling Enigmas in the World Around Us by George G Szpiro (2024)
George G. Szpiro guides readers through the puzzling world of paradoxes, from Socratic dialogues to the Monty Hall problem. Perplexing Paradoxes presents sixty counterintuitive conundrums drawn from diverse areas of thought―not only mathematics, statistics, logic, and philosophy but also social science, physics, politics, and religion. Szpiro offers a brisk history of each paradox, unpacks its inner workings, and considers where one might encounter it in daily life. Ultimately, he argues, paradoxes are not simple brain teasers or abstruse word games―they challenge us to hone our reasoning and become more alert to the flaws in received wisdom and common habits of thought.