At the MIT Press, we know nerdy
Our authors, loyal readers, and staff are all unapologetically enthusiastic about their niche interests. If that makes us nerds, we’ll wear the honorific proudly.
We’ve put together book recommendations for every type of nerd, from the peer-reviewers and scholars to the armchair intellectuals and budding aficionados. Explore books for the techies and hackers in your life below. Happy holidays and happy reading.
Code to Joy: Why Everyone Should Learn a Little Programming by Michael L. Littman
In this informative, accessible, and very funny book, Michael L. Littman inspires readers to learn how to tell machines what to do for us. Rather than give in to the fear that computers will steal our jobs, spy on us and control what we buy and whom we vote for, we can improve our relationship with them just by learning basic programming skills. Our devices will help us, Littman writes, if we can say what we want in a way they can understand.
“This is an important and timely book about us, the machines we have come to depend on, and the new world that creates, written by the second funniest person in computing and computer science.” —Charles Isbell, Georgia Tech
More than a Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech by Meredith Broussard
The word “glitch” implies an incidental error, as easy to patch up as it is to identify. But what if racism, sexism, and ableism aren’t just bugs in mostly functional machinery—what if they’re coded into the system itself? In the vein of heavy hitters such as Safiya Umoja Noble, Cathy O’Neil, and Ruha Benjamin, Meredith Broussard demonstrates in More Than a Glitch how neutrality in tech is a myth and why algorithms need to be held accountable.
“With her latest book, Meredith Broussard picks up on the threads of Safiya Noble and Ruha Benjamin as she demonstrates how technology reinforces injustice through its ubiquitous algorithms and questionable human interactions.” —Ms.
The world is never finished catching up with Vaclav Smil. In his latest and perhaps most readable book, Invention and Innovation, the prolific author—a favorite of Bill Gates—pens an insightful and fact-filled jaunt through the history of human invention. Impatient with the hype that so often accompanies innovation, Smil offers in this book a clear-eyed corrective to the overpromises that accompany everything from new cures for diseases to AI. He reminds us that even after we go quite far along the invention-development-application trajectory, we may never get anything real to deploy. Or worse, even after we have succeeded by introducing an invention, its future may be marked by underperformance, disappointment, demise, or outright harm.
“An informative, entertaining package from a gifted, original thinker.” —Kirkus Reviews
The Age of Prediction: Algorithms, AI, and the Shifting Shadows of Risk by Igor Tulchinsky and Christopher E. Mason
The Age of Prediction is about two powerful, and symbiotic, trends: the rapid development and use of artificial intelligence and big data to enhance prediction, as well as the often paradoxical effects of these better predictions on our understanding of risk and the ways we live. Beginning with dramatic advances in quantitative investing and precision medicine, this book explores how predictive technology is quietly reshaping our world in fundamental ways, from crime fighting and warfare to monitoring individual health and elections.
“Tulchinsky and Mason give us an exceptionally clear view of the interplay between risk and uncertainty—a guide for what’s to come.” —Alyssa Goodman, Harvard University; Founder, The Prediction Project
Evolutionary Intelligence: How Technology Will Make Us Smarter by W. Russell Neuman
It is natural for us to fear artificial intelligence. But does Siri really want to kill us? Perhaps we are falling into the trap of projecting human traits onto the machines we might build. In Evolutionary Intelligence, Neuman offers a surprisingly positive vision in which computational intelligence compensates for the well-recognized limits of human judgment, improves decision making, and actually increases our agency. In artful, accessible, and adventurous prose, Neuman takes the reader on an exciting, fast-paced ride, all the while making a convincing case about a revolution in computationally augmented human intelligence.
“Coming precisely at the right moment, Evolutionary Intelligence shows how humans can use technology to extend our intelligence not in isolation but to create a more human world.” —John Markoff, author of Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground between Humans and Robots
We, the Data: Human Rights in the Digital Age by Wendy H. Wong
Our data-intensive world is here to stay, but does that come at the cost of our humanity in terms of autonomy, community, dignity, and equality? In We, the Data, Wendy H. Wong argues that we cannot allow that to happen. Exploring the pervasiveness of data collection and tracking, Wong reminds us that we are all stakeholders in this digital world, who are currently being left out of the most pressing conversations around technology, ethics, and policy. This book clarifies the nature of datafication and calls for an extension of human rights to recognize how data complicate what it means to safeguard and encourage human potential.
“Absolutely fascinating.” —IEEE Spectrum