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Neuroscience research has exploded, with more than fifty thousand neuroscientists applying increasingly advanced methods. A mountain of new facts and mechanisms has emerged. And yet a principled framework to organize this knowledge has been missing. In this book, Peter Sterling and Simon Laughlin, two leading neuroscientists, strive to fill this gap, outlining a set of organizing principles to explain the whys of neural design that allow the brain to compute so efficiently.

Setting out to “reverse engineer” the brain—disassembling it to understand it—Sterling and Laughlin first consider why an animal should need a brain, tracing computational abilities from bacterium to protozoan to worm. They examine bigger brains and the advantages of “anticipatory regulation”; identify constraints on neural design and the need to “nanofy”; and demonstrate the routes to efficiency in an integrated molecular system, phototransduction. They show that the principles of neural design at finer scales and lower levels apply at larger scales and higher levels; describe neural wiring efficiency; and discuss learning as a principle of biological design that includes “save only what is needed.”

Sterling and Laughlin avoid speculation about how the brain might work and endeavor to make sense of what is already known. Their distinctive contribution is to gather a coherent set of basic rules and exemplify them across spatial and functional scales.

Not so long ago, people North and South had little reason to believe that wealth from oil, gas, and coal brought anything but great prosperity. But the presumption of net benefits from fossil fuels is eroding as widening circles of people rich and poor experience the downside.

A positive transition to a post-fossil fuel era cannot wait for global agreement, a swap-in of renewables, a miracle technology, a carbon market, or lifestyle change. This book shows that it is now possible to take the first step toward the post-fossil fuel era, by resisting the slow violence of extreme extraction and combustion, exiting the industry, and imagining a good life after fossil fuels. It shows how an environmental politics of transition might occur, arguing for going to the source rather than managing byproducts, for delegitimizing fossil fuels rather than accommodating them, for engaging a politics of deliberately choosing a post-fossil fuel world.

Six case studies reveal how individuals, groups, communities, and an entire country have taken first steps out of the fossil fuel era, with experiments that range from leaving oil under the Amazon to ending mountaintop removal in Appalachia.

Between Humanities and the Digital offers an expansive vision of how the humanities engage with digital and information technology, providing a range of perspectives on a quickly evolving, contested, and exciting field. It documents the multiplicity of ways that humanities scholars have turned increasingly to digital and information technology as both a scholarly tool and a cultural object in need of analysis.

The contributors explore the state of the art in digital humanities from varied disciplinary perspectives, offer a sample of digitally inflected work that ranges from an analysis of computational literature to the collaborative development of a “Global Middle Ages” humanities platform, and examine new models for knowledge production and infrastructure. Their contributions show not only that the digital has prompted the humanities to move beyond traditional scholarly horizons, but also that the humanities have pushed the digital to become more than a narrowly technical application.

Ian Bogost, Anne Cong-Huyen, Mats Dahlström, Cathy N. Davidson, Johanna Drucker, Amy E. Earhart, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Maurizio Forte, Zephyr Frank, David Theo Goldberg, Jennifer González, Jo Guldi, N. Katherine Hayles, Geraldine Heng, Larissa Hjorth, Tim Hutchings, Henry Jenkins, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Cecilia Lindhé, Alan Liu, Elizabeth Losh, Tara McPherson, Chandra Mukerji, Nick Montfort, Jenna Ng, Bethany Nowviskie, Jennie Olofsson, Lisa Parks, Natalie Phillips, Todd Presner, Stephen Rachman, Patricia Seed, Nishant Shah, Ray Siemens, Jentery Sayers, Jonathan Sterne, Patrik Svensson, William G. Thomas III, Whitney Anne Trettien, Michael Widner

Edited by Mark J. P. Wolf

Video games have become a global industry, and their history spans dozens of national industries where foreign imports compete with domestic productions, legitimate industry contends with piracy, and national identity faces the global marketplace. This volume describes video game history and culture across every continent, with essays covering areas as disparate and far-flung as Argentina and Thailand, Hungary and Indonesia, Iran and Ireland. Most of the essays are written by natives of the countries they discuss, many of them game designers and founders of game companies, offering distinctively firsthand perspectives. Some of these national histories appear for the first time in English, and some for the first time in any language.

Readers will learn, for example, about the rapid growth of mobile games in Africa; how a meat-packing company held the rights to import the Atari VCS 2600 into Mexico; and how the Indonesian MMORPG Nusantara Online reflects that country’s cultural history and folklore. Every country or region’s unique conditions provide the context that shapes its national industry; for example, the long history of computer science in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia, the problems of piracy in China, the PC Bangs of South Korea, or the Dutch industry’s emphasis on serious games. As these essays demonstrate, local innovation and diversification thrive alongside productions and corporations with global aspirations.

Africa • Arab World • Argentina • Australia • Austria • Brazil • Canada • China • Colombia • Czech Republic • Finland • France • Germany • Hong Kong • Hungary • India • Indonesia • Iran • Ireland • Italy • Japan • Mexico • The Netherlands • New Zealand • Peru • Poland • Portugal • Russia • Scandinavia • Singapore • South Korea • Spain • Switzerland • Thailand • Turkey • United Kingdom • United States of America • Uruguay • Venezuela

Electronic Music Devices and Computer Encodings in China

Technical objects constrain what users do with them. They are not neutral entities but embody information, choices, values, assumptions, or even mistakes embedded by designers. What happens when a technology is designed in one culture and used in another? What happens, for example, when a Chinese user is confronted by Roman-alphabet-embedded interfaces? In this book, Basile Zimmermann examines the relationship between technical objects and culture in contemporary China, drawing on concepts from science and technology studies (STS). He presents a new theoretical framework for “culture” based on the notions of waves and forms, which provides a powerful descriptive toolkit for technology and culture.

The materials Zimmermann uses to develop and illustrate his theoretical arguments come from three groups of case studies about the use of technical devices in today’s China. The first and most extensive group consists of observations of electronic music devices in Beijing; the second is a study of a Chinese networking site, “Happy Network”; and the third is a collection of personal, small-scale observations on the way Chinese characters behave when located in alphabet-encoded devices such as mobile phones, web pages, or printed documents. Zimmermann discusses well-known frameworks from STS and combines them with propositions and topics from Chinese studies. Each of the case studies advances his theoretical argument. Zimmermann’s account shows how cultural differences can be integrated into STS research, and how sinologists can turn their attention from ancient texts and traditional art to everyday things in present-day China.

The recent financial crisis has shattered all standard approaches to banking regulation. Regulators now recognize that banking regulation cannot be simply based on individual financial institutions’ risks. Instead, systemic risk and macroprudential regulation have come to the forefront of the new regulatory paradigm. Yet our knowledge of these two core aspects of regulation is still limited and fragmented. This book offers a framework for understanding the reasons for the regulatory shift from a microprudential to a macroprudential approach to financial regulation. It defines systemic risk and macroprudential policy, cutting through the generalized confusion as to their meaning; contrasts macroprudential to microprudential approaches; discusses the interaction of macroprudential policy with macroeconomic policy (monetary policy in particular); and describes macroprudential tools and experiences with macroprudential regulation around the world.

The book also considers the remaining challenges for establishing effective macroprudential policy and broader issues in regulatory reform. These include the optimal size and structure of the financial system, the multiplicity of regulatory bodies in the United States, the supervision of cross-border financial institutions, and the need for international cooperation on macroprudential policies.

Adaptivity and Search in Evolving Neural Systems

Emergence—the formation of global patterns from solely local interactions—is a frequent and fascinating theme in the scientific literature both popular and academic. In this book, Keith Downing undertakes a systematic investigation of the widespread (if often vague) claim that intelligence is an emergent phenomenon. Downing focuses on neural networks, both natural and artificial, and how their adaptability in three time frames—phylogenetic (evolutionary), ontogenetic (developmental), and epigenetic (lifetime learning)—underlie the emergence of cognition. Integrating the perspectives of evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence, Downing provides a series of concrete examples of neurocognitive emergence. Doing so, he offers a new motivation for the expanded use of bio-inspired concepts in artificial intelligence (AI), in the subfield known as Bio-AI.

One of Downing’s central claims is that two key concepts from traditional AI, search and representation, are key to understanding emergent intelligence as well. He first offers introductory chapters on five core concepts: emergent phenomena, formal search processes, representational issues in Bio-AI, artificial neural networks (ANNs), and evolutionary algorithms (EAs). Intermediate chapters delve deeper into search, representation, and emergence in ANNs, EAs, and evolving brains. Finally, advanced chapters on evolving artificial neural networks and information-theoretic approaches to assessing emergence in neural systems synthesize earlier topics to provide some perspective, predictions, and pointers for the future of Bio-AI.

Diversifying Participation in the Network Society

Shared public access to computers and the Internet in developing countries is often hailed as an effective, low-cost way to share the benefits of digital technology. Yet research on the economic and social effects of public access to computers is lacking. This volume offers the first systematic assessment of the impact of shared public access in the developing world, with findings from ten countries in South America, Asia, and Africa. It provides evidence that the benefits of diversified participation in digital society go beyond providing access to technology. Public access venues—most often Internet cafés in cities and state-run telecenters in rural areas—are places for learning, sharing, working, empowerment and finding opportunities.

The book documents the impact of public access on individuals, on society and networks, and on women. Chapters report findings and examine policy implications of research on such topics as users’ perceptions of the benefits of Internet café use in Jordan; ICT job training in Rwanda; understanding user motivations and risk factors for overuse and Internet addiction in China; the effect of technology use on social inclusion among low-income urban youth in Argentina; productive uses of technologies by grassroots organizations in Peru; use of technology by migrant ethnic minority Burmese women in Thailand to maintain ties with their culture and their family and friends; and women’s limited access to the most ubiquitous type of venue, cybercafés, in practically all countries studied—and quite severely in some places, e.g. Uttar Pradesh, India.

Contributing Editors
Erwin A. Alampay, Roxana Barrantes Cáceres, Hernan Galperin, Abiodun Jagun, George Sciadas, Ramata Molo Thioune, Kentaro Toyama

Chapter authors
Ali Farhan AbuSeileek, Carolina Aguerre, Oluwasefunmi ‘Tale Arogundade, Nor Aziah Alias, Sebastián Benítez Larghi, Jorge Bossio, Juan Fernando Bossio, Marina Laura Calamari, Nikos Dacanay, Jean Damascène Mazimpaka, Laurent Aristide Eyinga Eyinga, Mary Luz Feranil, Ariel Fontecoba, Omar Fraihat, Martin S. Hagger, Jianbin Hao, Sulaiman Hashim, Izaham Shah Ismail, Haziah Jamaludin, Xuemei Jiang, Laura León, Guoxin Li, Balwant Singh Mehta, Nidhi Mehta, Marina Moguillansky, Marhaini Mohd Noor, Avis Momeni, Théodomir Mugiraneza, Jimena Orchuela, Patricia Peña Miranda, Alejandra Phillippi, Jimena Ponce de León, Ghaleb Rabab’ah, Saif Addeen AlRababah, Wei Shang, Ryan V. Silverio, Sylvie Siyam Siwe, Efenita M. Taqueban, Olga Balbine Tsafack Nguekeng, Xiaoguang Yang

Art and Conflict in the 21st Century
Edited by Peter Weibel

Today political protest often takes the form of spontaneous, noninstitutional, mass action. Mass protests during the Arab Spring showed that established systems of power—in that case, the reciprocal support among Arab dictators and Western democracies—can be interrupted, at least for a short moment in history. These new activist movements often use online media to spread their message. Mass demonstrations from Tahrir Square in Cairo to Taksim Square in Istanbul show the power of networked communication to fuel “performative democracy”—at the center of which stands the global citizen. Art is emerging as a public space in which the individual can claim the promises of constitutional and state democracy. Activism may be the first new art form of the twenty-first century.

global aCtIVISm (the capitalized letters form the Latin word civis, emphasizing the power of citizens) describes and documents politically inspired art—global art practices that draw attention to grievances and demand the transformation of existing conditions through actions, demonstrations, and performances in public space. Essays by leading thinkers—including Noam Chomsky, Antonio Negri, Peter Sloterdijk, and Slavoj Žižek—consider the emerging role of the citizen in the new performative democracy. The essays are followed by images of art objects, illustrations, documents, and other material (first shown in an exhibition at ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe) as well as case studies by artists and activists.

Essays by
Can Altay, Sruti Bala and Veronika Zangl, Tatiana Bazzichelli, Olaf Bertram-Nothnagel, Angela Bonadies, Robin Celikates, Korhan Gümüs, Dietrich Heißenbüttel, Bruno Latour, Sarah Maske, Ugo Mattei, Graham Meikle, André Mesquita, Marcus Michaelsen, Walter D. Mignolo, MTL, Antonio Negri, Dimitris Papadopoulos, Vassilis Tsianos and Margarita Tsomou, Rita Raley, Arman and Arash T. Riahi, Martha Rosler, Peter Sloterdijk, Karl-Peter Sommermann, Guido Strack, Jackie Sumell, Zixue Tai, Tatiana Volkova, Christoph Wachter and Mathias Jud, Dan S. Wang and Sarah Augusta Lewison, Peter Weibel, Ahmad Zatari, Bo Zheng, Ragip Zik, Slavoj Žižek.

Interviews with
Ammar Abo Bakr and Ganzeer, Younes Belghazi and Hadeer Elmahdawy, Erdem Gündüz, Joulia Strauss

Policies for a Sustainable World

Today, there are thousands of synthetic chemicals used to make our clothing, cosmetics, household products, electronic devices, even our children’s toys. Many of these chemicals help us live longer and more comfortable lives, but some of these highly useful chemicals are also persistent, toxic, and dangerous to our health and the environment. For fifty years, the conventional approach to hazardous chemicals has focused on regulation, barriers, and protection. In Chemicals without Harm, Ken Geiser proposes a different strategy, based on developing and adopting safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals rather than focusing exclusively on controlling them.

Geiser reviews past government policies focused on controlling chemicals, describes government initiatives outside the United States that have begun to implement a more sustainable chemical policy, and offers an overview of the chemicals industry and market. He develops a safer chemicals policy framework that includes processes for characterizing, classifying, and prioritizing chemicals; generating and using new chemical information; and promoting transitions to safer chemicals.

The shift in strategy described by Geiser will require broad changes in science, the chemicals economy, and government policy. Geiser shows that it is already beginning, identifying an emerging movement of scientists, corporate managers, environmental activists, and government leaders who are fashioning a new, twenty-first-century approach to chemicals.

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