Tag: Technology

Isaac Asimov – The Stars Like Dust | Review

Title: The Stars Like Dust

Author: Isaac Asimov

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 192

Rating: 4/5

This book is pretty cool because it’s home to an interesting little mix of genres. It’s basically a cross between a science fiction novel and a political thriller, but with little bits of a detective novel thrown in. Asimov’s at his best like that, because he’s really good at using technology as a worldbuilding device and to ask questions about the worlds that he creates.

It was a pretty short but sweet read and I’m glad that I picked it up, but it also has a hell of a lot to offer considering how short it is. I read it over the space of a couple of days, but many of the ideas are going to weigh on my mind for the weeks and months to come. That’s the sign of a good book, and it seems to happen a lot when I read Asimov.

This one’s far from his most famous book and so perhaps you’ll want to start somewhere else, but definitely get to it if you can.

Learn more about The Stars Like Dust.

 


Garry Kasparov – Deep Thinking | Review

Title: Deep Thinking

Author: Garry Kasparov

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 294

Rating: 3.5/5

I was expecting this book to be a lot more about artificial intelligence than it actually was, mainly because that’s the way that it’s marketed. Instead, it’s almost entirely about chess, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I got pretty interested in it and indeed now I’m in the mood to play it, and so I’ll probably rope my other half into a game or two.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of stuff in here about the way that AI works and how it’s revolutionized our society, including a fascinating little section on how automated elevators first became a thing. The technology was available early on, but nobody wanted to get into one unless there was a human operator. Then elevator operators went on strike and public perception changed, and Kasparov says that something similar is happening when it comes to our approach to self-driving cars.

Still, if you’re picking up this book because you’re interested in artificial intelligence, there are definitely better ones to go for. You’re better off going with this if you’re interested specifically in chess, especially because the bulk of this book basically involves going over the lead up to the big competition between Kasparov and IBM’s Deep Blue.

I’m glad that I read it, but I don’t think I would have picked it up if I’d known what I know about it now. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it should certainly give you pause for thought. Other than that, there’s some cool stuff on machine learning and natural language processing, as well as a well-deserved shoutout for Alan Turing. So not bad.

Click here to learn more about Deep Thinking.