References

Sites

  • Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. An existential risk is one that threatens the existence of our entire species. The Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) — a joint initiative between a philosopher, a scientist, and a software entrepreneur — was founded on the conviction that these risks require a great deal more scientific investigation than they presently receive. CSER is a multidisciplinary research centre dedicated to the study and mitigation of risks that could lead to human extinction.
  • Future of Humanity Institute. Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute is a leading research centre looking at big-picture questions for human civilization. The last few centuries have seen tremendous change, and this century might transform the human condition in even more fundamental ways. Using the tools of mathematics, philosophy, and science, we explore the risks and opportunities that will arise from technological change, weigh ethical dilemmas, and evaluate global priorities. Our goal is to clarify the choices that will shape humanity’s long-term future.
  • Future of Life Institute. FLI catalyzes and supports research and initiatives for safeguarding life and developing optimistic visions of the future, including positive ways for humanity to steer its own course considering new technologies and challenges.
  • Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence. Launched in 2001, KurzweilAI explores the forecasts and insights on accelerating change articulated in Ray Kurzweil’s landmark books — notably The Singularity Is Near and  How to Create a Mind — and updates these books daily with key breakthroughs in science and technology. The “AI” in KurzweilAI refers to “accelerating intelligence,” a core concept that underlies the exponential growth of the pervasive information-based technologies — both biological and machine — that are radically changing our world. These include biotechnology, nanotechnology & materials science, molecular electronics, computation, artificial intelligence, robotics, neuroscience, physics, Internet, energy, electronics, pattern recognition, virtual reality, human brain reverse engineering, and brain and body augmentation. The leading visionaries represented on this site cover these and other topics, and examine the trends that are profoundly impacting science, economics, the arts, politics, government, warfare, medicine, health, education, disabilities, behavior, and society.
  • Machine Intelligence Research Institute. The Machine Intelligence Research Institute is a research nonprofit focused on the mathematical underpinnings of intelligent behavior. Our mission is to develop formal tools for the clean design and analysis of general-purpose artificially intelligent systems, with the intent of making such systems safe and reliable when they are developed.
  • Natasha Vita-More. Natasha’s research concerns the design aesthetics of human enhancement and radical life extension, with a focus on sciences and technologies of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive and neuro sciences (NBIC). Her conceptual future human design “Primo Posthuman” has been featured in Wired, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, Net Business, Teleopolis, and Village Voice.
  • Singularity Hub. Singularity Hub chronicles technological progress by highlighting the breakthroughs, players, and issues shaping the future as well as supporting a global community of smart, passionate, action-oriented people who want to change the world.
  • Singularity University. Singularity University is a benefit corporation that provides educational programs, innovative partnerships and a startup accelerator to help individuals, businesses, institutions, investors, NGOs and governments understand cutting-edge technologies, and how to utilize these technologies to positively impact billions of people.
  • Singularity Weblog & Podcast. Singularity Weblog started as a personal journal of thoughts on trends, news, issues, films and people related the technological singularity. However, due to the active involvement of readers like you, it is evolving into a growing community of people interested in exploring and shaping our future.

Books

Kaku, Michio (2014). The future of the mind : the scientific quest to understand, enhance, and empower the mind. The Future of the Mind brings a topic that once belonged solely to the province of science fiction into a startling new reality. This scientific tour de force unveils the astonishing research being done in top laboratories around the world—all based on the latest advancements in neuroscience and physics—including recent experiments in telepathy, mind control, avatars, telekinesis, and recording memories and dreams. The Future of the Mind is an extraordinary, mind-boggling exploration of the frontiers of neuroscience. Dr. Kaku looks toward the day when we may achieve the ability to upload the human brain to a computer, neuron for neuron; project thoughts and emotions around the world on a brain-net; take a “smart pill” to enhance cognition; send our consciousness across the universe; and push the very limits of immortality.

Armstrong, Karen (2014). Fields of blood : religion and the history of violence. From the renowned and best-selling author of A History of God, a sweeping exploration of religion and the history of human violence. With deep learning and sympathetic understanding, Karen Armstrong sets out to discover the truth about religion and violence in each of the world’s great traditions, taking us on an astonishing journey from prehistoric times to the present. While many historians have looked at violence in connection with particular religious manifestations (jihad in Islam or Christianity’s Crusades), Armstrong looks at each faith—not only Christianity and Islam, but also Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Judaism—in its totality over time.

Haidt, Jonathan (2012). The righteous mind : why good people are divided by politics and religion. As America descends deeper into polarization and paralysis, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has done the seemingly impossible—challenged conventional thinking about morality, politics, and religion in a way that speaks to everyone on the political spectrum. Drawing on his twenty five years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, he shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings. He shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and he shows why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns. In this subtle yet accessible book, Haidt gives you the key to understanding the miracle of human cooperation, as well as the curse of our eternal divisions and conflicts. If you’re ready to trade in anger for understanding, read The Righteous Mind.

Hawking, Stephen and Mlodinow, Leonard (2012). The Grand DesignWhen and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? What is the nature of reality? Is the apparent “grand design” of our universe evidence of a benevolent creator who set things in motion—or does science offer another explanation? In this startling and lavishly illustrated book, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow present the most recent scientific thinking about these and other abiding mysteries of the universe, in nontechnical language marked by brilliance and simplicity.

Kurzweil, Ray (2012). How to create a mind : the secret of human thought revealed. Ray Kurzweil is arguably today’s most influential futurist. In How to Create a Mind, he presents a provocative exploration of the most important project in the human-machine civilization: reverse-engineering the brain to understand precisely how it functions and using that knowledge to create even more intelligent machines. Kurzweil discusses how the brain works, how the mind emerges, brain-computer interfaces, and the implications of vastly increasing the powers of our intelligence to address the world’s problems. Certain to be one of the most widely discussed and debated science books of the year, How to Create a Mind is sure to take its place alongside Kurzweil’s previous classics.

Greene, Brian (2011). The hidden reality : parallel universes and the deep laws of the cosmos. There was a time when “universe” meant all there is. Everything. Yet, a number of theories are converging on the possibility that our universe may be but one among many parallel universes populating a vast multiverse. Here, Briane Greene, one of our foremost physicists and science writers, takes us on a breathtaking journey to a multiverse comprising an endless series of big bangs, a multiverse with duplicates of every one of us, a multiverse populated by vast sheets of spacetime, a multiverse in which all we consider real are holographic illusions, and even a multiverse made purely of math–and reveals the reality hidden within each. Using his trademark wit and precision, Greene presents a thrilling survey of cutting-edge physics and confronts the inevitable question: How can fundamental science progress if great swaths of reality lie beyond our reach? The Hidden Reality is a remarkable adventure through a world more vast and strange than anything we could have imagined.

Kaku, Michio (2011). Physics of the future : how science will shape human destiny and our daily lives by the year 2100. Space elevators. Internet-enabled contact lenses. Cars that fly by floating on magnetic fields. This is the stuff of science fiction—it’s also daily life in the year 2100. Renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku details the developments in computer technology, artificial intelligence, medicine, space travel, and more, that are poised to happen over the next hundred years. He also considers how these inventions will affect the world economy, addressing the key questions: Who will have jobs? Which nations will prosper? Kaku interviews three hundred of the world’s top scientists—working in their labs on astonishing prototypes. He also takes into account the rigorous scientific principles that regulate how quickly, how safely, and how far technologies can advance. In Physics of the Future, Kaku forecasts a century of earthshaking advances in technology that could make even the last centuries’ leaps and bounds seem insignificant.

Kaku, Michio (2008). Physics of the impossible : a scientific exploration into the world of phasers, force fields, teleportation, and time travelTeleportation, time machines, force fields, and interstellar space ships—the stuff of science fiction or potentially attainable future technologies? Inspired by the fantastic worlds of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Back to the Future, renowned theoretical physicist and bestselling author Michio Kaku takes an informed, serious, and often surprising look at what our current understanding of the universe’s physical laws may permit in the near and distant future.Entertaining, informative, and imaginative, Physics of the Impossible probes the very limits of human ingenuity and scientific possibility.

Haidt, Jonathan (2006). The happiness hypothesis : finding modern truth in ancient wisdom. In his widely praised book, award-winning psychologist Jonathan Haidt examines the world’s philosophical wisdom through the lens of psychological science, showing how a deeper understanding of enduring maxims-like Do unto others as you would have others do unto you, or What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger-can enrich and even transform our lives.

Kurzweil, Ray (2005). The Singularity is Near. The great inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil is one of the best-known and most controversial advocates for the role of machines in the future of humanity. In his latest book, he envisions an event—the “singularity”—in which technological change becomes so rapid and so profound that our bodies and brains will merge with our machines. The Singularity Is Near portrays what life will be like after this event— a human- machine civilization where our experiences shift from real reality to virtual reality and where our intelligence becomes nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful. In practical terms, this means that human aging and pollution will be reversed; world hunger will be solved; our bodies and environment transformed by nanotechnology to overcome the limitations of biology, including death; and virtually any physical product can be created from information alone. The Singularity Is Near also considers the social and philosophical ramifications of these changes, and is certain to be one of the most widely discussed and provocative books of 2005.

Greene, Brian (2004). The fabric of the cosmos : space, time, and the texture of reality. Space and time form the very fabric of the cosmos. Yet they remain among the most mysterious of concepts. Is space an entity? Why does time have a direction? Could the universe exist without space and time? Can we travel to the past? Greene has set himself a daunting task: to explain non-intuitive, mathematical concepts like String Theory, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and Inflationary Cosmology with analogies drawn from common experience. From Newton’s unchanging realm in which space and time are absolute, to Einstein’s fluid conception of spacetime, to quantum mechanics’ entangled arena where vastly distant objects can instantaneously coordinate their behavior, Greene takes us all, regardless of our scientific backgrounds, on an irresistible and revelatory journey to the new layers of reality that modern physics has discovered lying just beneath the surface of our everyday world.

Greene, Brian (2000). The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. In a rare blend of scientific insight and writing as elegant as the theories it explains, Brian Greene, one of the world’s leading string theorists, peels away the layers of mystery surrounding string theory to reveal a universe that consists of 11 dimensions where the fabric of space tears and repairs itself, and all matter-from the smallest quarks to the most gargantuan supernovas-is generated by the vibrations of microscopically tiny loops of energy.

Lynn, Jonathan and Jay, Antony (1989). The Complete Yes Minister and The Complete Yes Prime Minister. The Diaries Of A Cabinet Minister By Right Hon. James Hacker MP. “Left me crying with laughter … the piece achieves one of those blissful peaks of great farce when it becomes physically impossible to stop laughing … a smash hit if ever I saw one” – Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph “Hilarious … Almost every line of this vivacious play challenges the audience to think against received opinion” – John Lahr, The New Yorker

Wodehouse, P. G. (Pelham Grenville) (1921). The adventures of Sally (free download). 2015 review by a teen reviewer at The Guardian (spoiler alert):

After reading a few books written by one of the most widely-read humourists of the twentieth century, the books by P.G. Wodehouse promise you great joy, pleasure and lots of laughable extracts. When you start enjoying Wodehouse’s work for i’ts own sake, the wonderful phrases, the multi-layered (even if similar) plots, the endearing if not exactly heroic protagonists are all as you would expect from any of his many books. Personally, I expected no more before picking up The Adventures of Sally.

But then I read the book. With a rich, consuming plot, this book is quite different from most of the famous writer’s books (well not totally different – the writing is still amusing and profound). Rather than containing the usual set of varied but short stories about a single protagonist, this book revolves around building up a plot, which spreads over several months in which the characters develop, their feelings are evaluated and what not. This is a Wodehouse novel as no other.

Sally Nicholas is a young, pretty, and popular American woman who lives in a boarding house in New York and works as a taxi dancer. The book opens with Sally throwing a party on the occasion of her twenty-first birthday, with the neighbours discussing all sorts of ways in which Sally could spend her million dollars, which is the grand sum she has inherited. The discussion soon takes a different curve when she reminds the audience of how she has only inherited 25,000 dollars and not a million dollars.

The book then sets on the path of Sally travelling to France for a holiday and how she meets Ginger, an amateur pugilist, office assistant, and among scores of other things, a dog trainer, one with an uncanny talent of screwing up everything he ever does. She also runs into a sophisticated businessman, wise in the ways of the world, and Ginger’s cousin, Bruce Carmyle. Soon both the cousins fall in love with Sally.

Sally decides to finance a theater that was organizing a play, owned by her dear brother Fillmore after coming back to her hometown.The play becomes a runaway success, and with Fillmore finding his love in life, all seems to be going okay when suddenly Sally finds her fiance marrying an actress. She is grief stricken and flees to London to escape the agony of remembering the romantic evenings spent with Gerald Foster.

Shortly she falls in love with another man as London sways her heart and soothes the pain. Meanwhile there is a ruined marriage for Gerald, when things suddenly change after the guy loses most of his wealth, a betting business in boxing which goes awfully wrong. All of this ensues a happy ending for the sweet dear lady Sally.

Similar to the rest of Wodehouse’s books The Adventures of Sally promises as much humour as the Jeeves collection does, but also contains an intriguing plot. The characters grow and mature, but not in the ways of those in the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winners. They do it in the Wodehousian way. And they sure as hell make you smile with their quirks and eccentricities like Wodehouse characters always do.