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A BIT of The Digital Rights Movement

What began as an assertion of consumer rights to digital content has become something broader: a movement concerned not just with consumers and gadgets but with cultural ownership. In this BIT, Hector Postigo examines the evolution of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, showing that citizens’ concerns were largely ignored in the policy process.

A BIT of Solar Revolution

Fund manager and former corporate buyout specialist Travis Bradford argues—on the basis of standard business and economic forecasting models—that over the next two decades solar energy will increasingly become the best and cheapest choice for most electricity and energy applications. In this BIT, Bradford provides the basic facts about solar energy and describes a variety of economic and political incentives that would encourage its use.

A BIT of Interface Fantasy

In this BIT, AndrĂ© Nusselder uses the core psychoanalytic notion of fantasy to examine our relationship to computers and digital technology. Lacanian psychoanalysis considers fantasy to be an indispensable “screen” for our interaction with the outside world; Nusselder argues that, at the mental level, computer screens and other human-computer interfaces incorporate this function of fantasy: they mediate the real and the virtual.

A BIT of The Consciousness Paradox

Consciousness is perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the world and yet it is so very familiar to each of us. In this BIT, tackling a central paradox of consciousness (namely, how it is possible to hold a number of seemingly inconsistent views about it), Rocco Gennaro proposes a version of the HOT (higher order thought) thesis that is consistent with animal consciousness. Gennaro’s integration of empirical and philosophical concerns will make his argument of interest to both philosophers and nonphilosophers.

A BIT of Democracy Despite Itself

Voters often make irrational decisions based on inaccurate and irrelevant information. Politicians are often inept, corrupt, or out of touch with the will of the people. This BIT examines how democracy can lead to successful outcomes even when the defining characteristic of democracy, elections, is flawed.

A BIT of Learnability and Cognition, new edition

Bestselling author Steven Pinker’s early works on language acquisition have become classics in cognitive science. This BIT offers Pinker’s look back at this work and two pivotal chapters from Learnability and Cognition.

Purchasers of this MIT Press BIT will also receive a discount code (good on the MIT Press website only) for 40% off the price of the book Learnability and Cognition, from which this BIT is excerpted. Please email mitbits@mit.edu with your order number to receive your discount code.

A BIT of Recoding Gender

Few people know that women were a significant presence in the early decades of computing in both the United States and Britain; programming in postwar years was considered woman’s work (perhaps in contrast to the more manly task of building the computers themselves).

A BIT of Borges and Memory

Imagine the astonishment felt by neuroscientist Rodrigo Quian Quiroga when he found a fantastically precise interpretation of his research findings in a story written by the great Argentinian fabulist Jorge Luis Borges fifty years earlier. In this BIT, Quian Quiroga explores real-life cases that recall Borges’s fictional “Funes the Memorious,” investigating a man who couldn’t forget, and another who could not form new memories.

A BIT of The Really Hard Problem

How is meaning possible in a material world? Owen Flanagan proposes a naturalistic (rather than supernaturalistic) way to live meaningfully, to live a life that really matters, to flourish, to achieve eudaimonia—to be a “happy spirit.” In this BIT, Flanagan draws on insights from neuroscience and on the transformative mindfulness and self-cultivation practices in Buddhism.

A BIT of Uncertainty in Games

Uncertainty in games—from Super Mario Bros. to Rock/Paper/Scissors—engages players and shapes play experiences. This BIT examines the sources of that uncertainty, from doubts about performance to a game’s elements of randomness.

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