Looking ahead to the books we can’t wait to publish this spring
The cover for our spring 2022 catalog—from the Tichnor Brothers Collection at the Boston Public Library and featured in Born in Cambridge—is a postcard illustration looking out over the Charles River in Boston toward MIT’s iconic Great Dome in Cambridge. Just beyond lies the heart of Kendall Square, a neighborhood known for technology, innovation, and commerce, as well as home to the MIT Press.
“The MIT Press has deep roots in Kendall Square,” writes Amy Brand, publisher and director of the MIT Press. “Kendall has become one of the world’s most vital innovation hubs and the official portal to MIT itself, and this year marks not only our return, but also our 60th anniversary. With our elegant new bookstore at 314 Main Street and 12th floor offices at 1 Broadway with dazzling views of Boston and Cambridge, we are part of a vibrant post-pandemic awakening.”
Several of our books publishing this spring are true to both our roots in the city of Cambridge, as well as the roots of our mission as a press. Robert Buderi’s Where Futures Converge: Kendall Square and the Making of a Global Innovation Hub offers an evolution of this innovative square mile; Karen Weintraub and Michael Kuchta’s Born in Cambridge: 400 Years of Ideas and Innovators chronicles cultural icons—Anne Bradstreet and W.E.B. Du Bois, for example—and influential ideas and creations bred in the city of Cambridge, from gene editing to Junior Mints; and Maia Weinstock’s Carbon Queen: The Remarkable Life of Nanoscience Pioneer Mildred Dresselhaus paints a portrait of an MIT science icon.
Featured below are a few additional highlights from our spring publications. We invite you to download the entire catalog and browse all our new books and journals, and we thank you, as ever, for supporting our books and our mission.
The Most Human Right: Why Free Speech Is Everything by Eric Heinze
What are human rights? Are they laid out definitively in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the US Bill of Rights? Are they items on a checklist—dignity, justice, progress, standard of living, health care, housing? In The Most Human Right, Eric Heinze explains why global human rights systems have failed. International organizations constantly report on how governments manage human goods, such as fair trials, humane conditions of detention, healthcare, or housing. But to appease autocratic regimes, experts have ignored the primacy of free speech. Heinze argues that goods become rights only when citizens can claim them publicly and fearlessly: free speech is the fundamental right, without which the very concept of a “right” makes no sense.
“This insightful and penetrating analysis shows how free speech is not just another good thing we have a right to, like food and protection from abuse, but a prerequisite to the very concept of a ‘right.’” —Steven Pinker, author of Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters
There’s Nothing Micro about a Billion Women: Making Finance Work for Women by Mary Ellen Iskenderian
Nearly one billion women have been completely excluded from the formal financial system. Without even a bank account in their own names, they lack the basic services most of us take for granted—secure ways to save money, pay bills, and get credit. Exclusion from the formal financial system means they are economic outsiders, unable to benefit from, or contribute to, economic growth. Microfinance has been hailed as an economic lifeline for women in developing countries—but, as Mary Ellen Iskenderian shows in this book, it takes more than microloans to empower women and promote sustainable, inclusive economic growth.
Out of Touch: How to Survive an Intimacy Famine by Michelle Drouin
Millions of people around the world are not getting the physical, emotional, and intellectual intimacy they crave. Through the wonders of modern technology, we are connecting with more people more often than ever before, but are these connections what we long for? Pandemic isolation has made us even more alone. In Out of Touch, Professor of Psychology Michelle Drouin investigates what she calls our intimacy famine, exploring love, belongingness, and fulfillment and considering why relationships carried out on technological platforms may leave us starving for physical connection. Drouin puts it this way: when most of our interactions are through social media, we are taking tiny hits of dopamine rather than the huge shots of oxytocin that an intimate in-person relationship would provide.
“At a time when technology seems to provide endless connectivity, it also leaves us strangely isolated. Throughout this insightful and entertaining book, Drouin highlights the path forward and left me, personally, optimistic about the future.” —Keith A. Grossman, President, TIME
The Nexus: Augmented Thinking for a Complex World by Julio Mario Ottino with Bruce Mao
Today’s complex problems demand a radically new way of thinking—one in which art, technology, and science converge to expand our creativity and augment our insight. Creativity must be combined with the ability to execute; the innovators of the future will have to understand this balance and manage such complexities as climate change and pandemics. The place of this convergence is the Nexus. In this provocative and visually striking book, Julio Mario Ottino and Bruce Mau offer a guide for navigating the intersections of art, technology, and science.
Power On! by Jean J. Ryoo and Jane Margolis
This lively graphic novel follows a diverse group of teenage friends as they discover that computing can be fun, creative, and empowering. Taylor, Christine, Antonio, and Jon seem like typical young teens—they communicate via endless texting, they share jokes, they worry about starting high school, and they have each other’s backs. But when a Black man is shot and killed by police in their city, they are outraged—and then they learn that he had been misidentified and tracked by an artificial intelligence program. How can an algorithm be racist? And what is an algorithm, anyway? Power On! is an essential read for young adults, general readers, educators, and anyone interested in the power of computing, how computing can do good or cause harm, and why addressing underrepresentation in computing needs to be a top priority.
“A must-read for every educator working to make the pressing issues of technology and harm legible to kids.” —Safiya Noble, UCLA; author of Algorithms of Oppression
The New Fire: War, Peace, and Democracy in the Age of AI by Ben Buchanan and Andrew Imbrie
Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the modern world. It is ubiquitous—in our homes and offices, in the present and most certainly in the future. Today, we encounter AI as our distant ancestors once encountered fire. If we manage AI well, it will become a force for good, lighting the way to many transformative inventions. If we deploy it thoughtlessly, it will advance beyond our control. If we wield it for destruction, it will fan the flames of a new kind of war, one that holds democracy in the balance. As AI policy experts Ben Buchanan and Andrew Imbrie show in The New Fire, few choices are more urgent—or more fascinating—than how we harness this technology and for what purpose.
“An essential guide to the age of artificial intelligence written by two of its leading scholars. Ben Buchanan and Andrew Imbrie help the reader understand the incredible promises and daunting perils of AI, while exploring the dramatic impact it could have on geopolitics in the decades ahead.” —Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State