A comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society throughout history, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today''s fossil fuel-driven civilization. "I wait for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next ''Star Wars'' movie. In his latest book, Energy and Civilization: A History , he goes deep and broad to explain how innovations in humans'' ability to turn energy into heat, light, and motion have been a driving force behind our cultural and economic progress over the past 10,000 years. --Bill Gates, Gates Notes , Best Books of the Year Energy is the only universal currency; it is necessary for getting anything done. The conversion of energy on Earth ranges from terra-forming forces of plate tectonics to cumulative erosive effects of raindrops. Life on Earth depends on the photosynthetic conversion of solar energy into plant biomass. Humans have come to rely on many more energy flows--ranging from fossil fuels to photovoltaic generation of electricity--for their civilized existence. In this monumental history, Vaclav Smil provides a comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today''s fossil fuel-driven civilization. Humans are the only species that can systematically harness energies outside their bodies, using the power of their intellect and an enormous variety of artifacts--from the simplest tools to internal combustion engines and nuclear reactors. The epochal transition to fossil fuels affected everything: agriculture, industry, transportation, weapons, communication, economics, urbanization, quality of life, politics, and the environment. Smil describes humanity''s energy eras in panoramic and interdisciplinary fashion, offering readers a magisterial overview. This book is an extensively updated and expanded version of Smil''s Energy in World History (1994). Smil has incorporated an enormous amount of new material, reflecting the dramatic developments in energy studies over the last two decades and his own research over that time.
From the New York Times-bestselling author, a new volume on the history of human ingenuity-and its attendant breakthroughs and busts.
The world is never finished catching up with Vaclav Smil. In his latest and perhaps most readable book, Invention and Innovation, the prolific author-a favorite of Bill Gates-pens an insightful and fact-filled jaunt through the history of human invention. Impatient with the hype that so often accompanies innovation, Smil offers in this book a clear-eyed corrective to the overpromises that accompany everything from new cures for diseases to AI. He reminds us that even after we go quite far along the invention-development-application trajectory, we may never get anything real to deploy. Or worse, even after we have succeeded by introducing an invention, its future may be marked by underperformance, disappointment, demise, or outright harm.
Drawing on his vast breadth of scientific and historical knowledge, Smil explains the difference between invention and innovation. He then looks at three different types of inventions.
Inventions that failed to dominate as promised:
Inventions that turned disastrous:
Inventions we have long been promised (and that would be highly beneficial):
Travel in vacuum (hyperloop).
Finally, he offers a «wish list» of inventions that we most urgently need to confront the staggering challenges of the twenty-first century.
Filled with engaging examples and pragmatic approaches, this book is a sobering account of the folly that so often attends human ingenuity-and how we can, and must, better align our expectations with reality.
A Lacanian approach to murder scene investigation.
What if Jacques Lacan--the brilliant and eccentric Parisian psychoanalyst--had worked as a police detective, applying his theories to solve crimes? This may conjure up a mental film clip starring Peter Sellers in a trench coat, but in Lacan at the Scene, Henry Bond makes a serious and provocative claim: that apparently impenetrable events of violent death can be more effectively unraveled with Lacan's theory of psychoanalysis than with elaborate, technologically advanced forensic tools. Bond's exposition on murder expands and develops a resolutely Zizekian approach. Seeking out radical and unexpected readings, Bond unpacks his material utilizing Lacan's neurosis-psychosis-perversion grid.
Bond places Lacan at the crime scene and builds his argument through a series of archival crime scene photographs from the 1950s--the period when Lacan was developing his influential theories. It is not the horror of the ravished and mutilated corpses that draws his attention; instead, he interrogates seemingly minor details from the everyday, isolating and rephotographing what at first seems insignificant: a single high heeled shoe on a kitchen table, for example, or carefully folded clothes placed over a chair. From these mundane details he carefully builds a robust and comprehensive manual for Lacanian crime investigation that can stand beside the FBI's standard-issue Crime Classification Manual.
A new examination of mass digitization as an emerging sociopolitical and sociotechnical phenomenon that alters the politics of cultural memory. Today, all of us with internet connections can access millions of digitized cultural artifacts from the comfort of our desks. Institutions and individuals add thousands of new cultural works to the digital sphere every day, creating new central nexuses of knowledge. How does this affect us politically and culturally? In this book, Nanna Bonde Thylstrup approaches mass digitization as an emerging sociopolitical and sociotechnical phenomenon, offering a new understanding of a defining concept of our time. Arguing that digitization has become a global cultural political project, Thylstrup draws on case studies of different forms of mass digitization--including Google Books, Europeana, and the shadow libraries Monoskop, lib.ru, and Ubuweb--to suggest a different approach to the study of digital cultural memory archives. She constructs a new theoretical framework for understanding mass digitization that focuses on notions of assemblage, infrastructure, and infrapolitics. Mass digitization does not consist merely of neutral technical processes, Thylstrup argues, but of distinct subpolitical processes that give rise to new kinds of archives and new ways of interacting with the artifacts they contain. With this book, she offers important and timely guidance on how mass digitization alters the politics of cultural memory to impact our relationship with the past and with one another.
Gornick on V. S. Naipaul, James Baldwin, George Gissing, Randall Jarrell, H. G. Wells, Loren Eiseley, Allen Ginsberg, Hayden Carruth, Saul Bellow, and Philip Roth and the intimate relationship between emotional damage and great literature. Vivian Gornick, one of our finest critics, tackled the theme of love and marriage in her last collection of essays, The End of the Novel of Love, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. In this new collection, she turns her attention to another large theme in literature: the struggle for the semblance of inner freedom. Great literature, she believes, is not the record of the achievement, but of the effort. Gornick, who emerged as a major writer during the second-wave feminist movement, came to realize that "ideology alone could not purge one of the pathological self-doubt that seemed every woman''s bitter birthright." Or, as Anton Chekhov put it so memorably: "Others made me a slave, but I must squeeze the slave out of myself, drop by drop." Perhaps surprisingly, Gornick found particular inspiration for this challenge in the work of male writers--talented, but locked in perpetual rage, self-doubt, or social exile. From these men--who had infinitely more permission to do and be than women had ever known--she learned what it really meant to wrestle with demons. In the essays collected here, she explores the work of V. S. Naipaul, James Baldwin, George Gissing, Randall Jarrell, H. G. Wells, Loren Eiseley, Allen Ginsberg, Hayden Carruth, Saul Bellow, and Philip Roth. Throughout the book, Gornick is at her best: interpreting the intimate interrelationship of emotional damage, social history, and great literature.
An argument that the commons is neither tragedy nor paradise but can be a way to understand environmental sustainability. The history of the commons--jointly owned land or other resources such as fisheries or forests set aside for public use--provides a useful context for current debates over sustainability and how we can act as "good ancestors." In this book, Derek Wall considers the commons from antiquity to the present day, as an idea, an ecological space, an economic abstraction, and a management practice. He argues that the commons should be viewed neither as a "tragedy" of mismanagement (as the biologist Garrett Hardin wrote in 1968) nor as a panacea for solving environmental problems. Instead, Walls sees the commons as a particular form of property ownership, arguing that property rights are essential to understanding sustainability. How we use the land and its resources offers insights into how we value the environment. After defining the commons and describing the arguments of Hardin''s influential article and Elinor Ostrom''s more recent work on the commons, Wall offers historical case studies from the United States, England, India, and Mongolia. He examines the power of cultural norms to maintain the commons; political conflicts over the commons; and how commons have protected, or failed to protect ecosystems. Combining intellectual and material histories with an eye on contemporary debates, Wall offers an applied history that will interest academics, activists, and policy makers.
A survey of computational methods for understanding, generating, and manipulating human language, which offers a synthesis of classical representations and algorithms with contemporary machine learning techniques. This textbook provides a technical perspective on natural language processing--methods for building computer software that understands, generates, and manipulates human language. It emphasizes contemporary data-driven approaches, focusing on techniques from supervised and unsupervised machine learning. The first section establishes a foundation in machine learning by building a set of tools that will be used throughout the book and applying them to word-based textual analysis. The second section introduces structured representations of language, including sequences, trees, and graphs. The third section explores different approaches to the representation and analysis of linguistic meaning, ranging from formal logic to neural word embeddings. The final section offers chapter-length treatments of three transformative applications of natural language processing: information extraction, machine translation, and text generation. End-of-chapter exercises include both paper-and-pencil analysis and software implementation. The text synthesizes and distills a broad and diverse research literature, linking contemporary machine learning techniques with the field''s linguistic and computational foundations. It is suitable for use in advanced undergraduate and graduate-level courses and as a reference for software engineers and data scientists. Readers should have a background in computer programming and college-level mathematics. After mastering the material presented, students will have the technical skill to build and analyze novel natural language processing systems and to understand the latest research in the field.
According to Thomas Metzinger, no such things as selves exist in the world: nobody ever had or was a self. All that exists are phenomenal selves, as they appear in conscious experience. The phenomenal self, however, is not a thing but an ongoing process; it is the content of a "transparent self-model." In Being No One, Metzinger, a German philosopher, draws strongly on neuroscientific research to present a representationalist and functional analysis of what a consciously experienced first-person perspective actually is. Building a bridge between the humanities and the empirical sciences of the mind, he develops new conceptual toolkits and metaphors; uses case studies of unusual states of mind such as agnosia, neglect, blindsight, and hallucinations; and offers new sets of multilevel constraints for the concept of consciousness. Metzinger''s central question is: How exactly does strong, consciously experienced subjectivity emerge out of objective events in the natural world? His epistemic goal is to determine whether conscious experience, in particular the experience of being someone that results from the emergence of a phenomenal self, can be analyzed on subpersonal levels of description. He also asks if and how our Cartesian intuitions that subjective experiences as such can never be reductively explained are themselves ultimately rooted in the deeper representational structure of our conscious minds.
A physician-anthropologist explores how public health practices--from epidemiological modeling to outbreak containment--help perpetuate global inequities. In Epidemic Illusions , Eugene Richardson, a physician and an anthropologist, contends that public health practices--from epidemiological modeling and outbreak containment to Big Data and causal inference--play an essential role in perpetuating a range of global inequities. Drawing on postcolonial theory, medical anthropology, and critical science studies, Richardson demonstrates the ways in which the flagship discipline of epidemiology has been shaped by the colonial, racist, and patriarchal system that had its inception in 1492.