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Technoscientific Organisms and the History of Fascism

In the fascist regimes of Mussolini’s Italy, Salazar’s Portugal, and Hitler’s Germany, the first mass mobilizations involved wheat engineered to take advantage of chemical fertilizers, potatoes resistant to late blight, and pigs that thrived on national produce. Food independence was an early goal of fascism; indeed, as Tiago Saraiva writes in Fascist Pigs, fascists were obsessed with projects to feed the national body from the national soil.

Robots are entering the mainstream. Technologies have advanced to the point of mass commercialization—Roomba, for example—and adoption by governments—most notably, their use of drones. Meanwhile, these devices are being received by a public whose main sources of information about robots are the fantasies of popular culture. We know a lot about C-3PO and Robocop but not much about Atlas, Motoman, Kiva, or Beam--real-life robots that are reinventing warfare, the industrial workplace, and collaboration.

Technology’s Attack on Referees and Umpires and How to Fix It

Good call or bad call, referees and umpires have always had the final say in sports. Bad calls are more visible: plays are televised backward and forward and in slow motion. New technologies—the Hawk-Eye system used in tennis and cricket, for example, and the goal-line technology used in English football—introduced to correct bad calls sometimes get it right and sometimes get it wrong, but always undermine the authority of referees and umpires.

66 Ways Experts Think

What makes an expert software designer? It is more than experience or innate ability. Expert software designers have specific habits, learned practices, and observed principles that they apply deliberately during their design work. This book offers sixty-six insights, distilled from years of studying experts at work, that capture what successful software designers actually do to create great software.

Public Conversations and Participatory Media

Internet memes—digital snippets that can make a joke, make a point, or make a connection—are now a lingua franca of online life. They are collectively created, circulated, and transformed by countless users across vast networks. Most of us have seen the cat playing the piano, Kanye interrupting, Kanye interrupting the cat playing the piano. In The World Made Meme, Ryan Milner argues that memes, and the memetic process, are shaping public conversation. It’s hard to imagine a major pop cultural or political moment that doesn’t generate a constellation of memetic texts.

The Writings of Hans Haacke

Hans Haacke’s art articulates the interdependence of multiple elements. An artwork is not merely an object but is also its context—the economic, social, and political conditions of the art world and the world at large.

Toward a Test of Rational Thinking

Why are we surprised when smart people act foolishly? Smart people do foolish things all the time. Misjudgments and bad decisions by highly educated bankers and money managers, for example, brought us the financial crisis of 2008. Smart people do foolish things because intelligence is not the same as the capacity for rational thinking. The Rationality Quotient explains that these two traits, often (and incorrectly) thought of as one, refer to different cognitive functions.

Social Movements, Mobilized Publics, and Industrial Transitions

As the fields of social movement studies (SMS) and science and technology studies (STS) have diversified in topical focus, they have moved closer to each other. SMS has turned toward the study of nonstate targets and institutionalized repertoires of action, just as STS has turned to expertise and publics. In Undone Science, David Hess argues that a theoretical integration of core concepts in the two fields is now possible, and he presents just such a synthesis.

The Manufacture of Religious Offense and Its Threat to Democracy

In the United States, elements of the religious right fuel fears of an existential Islamic threat, spreading anti-Muslim rhetoric into mainstream politics. In Indonesia, Muslim absolutists urge suppression of churches and minority sects, fostering a climate of rising intolerance. In India, Narendra Modi’s radical supporters instigate communal riots and academic censorship in pursuit of their Hindu nationalist vision. Outbreaks of religious intolerance are usually assumed to be visceral and spontaneous.

Learning Invariant Representations

The ventral visual stream is believed to underlie object recognition in primates. Over the past fifty years, researchers have developed a series of quantitative models that are increasingly faithful to the biological architecture. Recently, deep learning convolution networks—which do not reflect several important features of the ventral stream architecture and physiology—have been trained with extremely large datasets, resulting in model neurons that mimic object recognition but do not explain the nature of the computations carried out in the ventral stream.

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