Hello World. How to be Human in the Age of the Machine
You are accused of a crime. Who would you rather determined your fate – a human or an algorithm?
An algorithm is more consistent and less prone to error of judgment. Yet a human can look you in the eye before passing sentence. Welcome to the age of the algorithm, the story of a not-too-distant future where machines rule supreme, making important decisions – in healthcare, transport, finance, security, what we watch, where we go even who we send to prison. So how much should we rely on them? What kind of future do we want?
Hannah Fry takes us on a tour of the good, the bad and the downright ugly of the algorithms that surround us, she lifts the lid on their inner workings, demonstrates their power, exposes their limitations, and examines whether they really are an improvement on the humans they are replacing.
Transpub Publishing, March 2019
Atlas of Poetic Zoology
This Atlas of Poetic Zoology leads readers into a world of wonders where turtles fly under the sea, lizards walk on water, insects impersonate flowers, birds don’t fly, frogs come back from the dead, and virgin sharks give birth. Animals, writes Emmanuelle Pouydebat, are lyric poets; they discover and shape the world when they sing, dance, explore, and reproduce. The animal kingdom has been evolving for 700,000 million years, weathering many crises of extinction; this book allows us to draw inspiration from animals’ enduring vitality. Emmanuelle Pouydebat is a permanent researcher employed by the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research), working at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris.
The MIT Press, March 2019
Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic
Mescaline was isolated in 1897 from the peyote cactus, first encountered by Europeans during the Spanish conquest of Mexico. During the twentieth century it was used by psychologists investigating the secrets of consciousness, spiritual seekers from Aleister Crowley to the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, artists exploring the creative process, and psychiatrists looking to cure schizophrenia. Meanwhile peyote played a vital role in preserving and shaping Native American identity. Drawing on botany, pharmacology, ethnography, and the mind sciences and examining the mescaline experiences of figures from William James to Walter Benjamin to Hunter S. Thompson, this is an enthralling narrative of mescaline’s many lives.
Yale University Press, June 2019
High Weirdnes. Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies
An exploration of the emergence of a new psychedelic spirituality in the work of Philip K. Dick, Terence McKenna, and Robert Anton Wilson.
America’s leading scholar on things extraordinary examines the writings of three iconoclastic thinkers and their life-changing mystical experiences. After a sound theoretical and scholarly introduction to various strange states, their meaning and possible origins (the author writes we can skip if we want), we get to the core experiences of our three proponents: Terence and Dennis McKenna and their – psychotic or shamanic – adventures in La Chorrera, Columbia; Robert Anton Wilson and the synchronicities and altered states he experienced while writing CosmicTrigger and last but not least, Philip K. Dick and an occurrence that goes by the name of 2-3-74. As beyond the norm these experiences may be, Davis’ finds a fascinating context for them, as well as presenting them seriously, which elevates them beyond mere lore and lends them respectability. This is not an easy book but it is highly worthwhile, a true Bible of Weirdness shedding light on the mystical thinking of an entire generation. (sgs)
MindApps. Multistate Theory and Tools for Mind Desig
Thomas B. Roberts (Introduction: James Fadiman)
Using psychedelics as the prime example, Thomas B. Roberts explores the many different kinds of mindapps, including meditation, other psychoactive plants and chemicals, sensory overload and deprivation, biofeedback and neurofeedback, hypnosis and suggestion, sleep and lucid dreaming, creative imagery, transcranial brain stimulation and optical brain stimulation, rites of passage, martial arts and exercise routines, yoga, breathing techniques, and contemplative prayer. He also looks at the future of mindapps, the potential for new mindapps yet to be invented, and how installing multiple mindapps can produce new, yet to be explored mind states. Drawing on decades of research, he shows how psychedelics in particular are «ideagens»–powerful tools for generating new ideas and new ways of thinking. Reformulating how we think about the human mind, MindApps unveils the new multistate landscape of the mind and how we can each enter the world of mind design.