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Neuroplasticity (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)
Fifty years ago, neuroscientists thought that a mature brain was fixed like a fly in amber, unable to change. Today, we know that our brains and nervous systems change throughout our lifetimes. This concept of neuroplasticity has captured the imagination of a public eager for self-improvement -- and has inspired countless Internet entrepreneurs who peddle dubious "brain training" games and apps. In this book, Moheb Costandi offers a concise and engaging overview of neuroplasticity for the general reader, describing how our brains change continuously in response to our actions and experiences. Costandi discusses key experimental findings, and describes how our thinking about the brain has evolved over time. He explains how the brain changes during development, and the "synaptic pruning" that takes place before brain maturity. He shows that adult brains can grow new cells (citing, among many other studies, research showing that sexually mature male canaries learn a new song every year). He describes the kind of brain training that can bring about improvement in brain function. It's not gadgets and games that promise to "rewire your brain" but such sustained cognitive tasks as learning a musical instrument or a new language. (Costandi also notes that London cabbies increase their gray matter after rigorous training in their city's complicated streets.) He tells how brains compensate after stroke or injury; describes addiction and pain as maladaptive forms of neuroplasticity; and considers brain changes that accompany childhood, adolescence, parenthood, and aging. Each of our brains is custom-built. Neuroplasticity is at the heart of what makes us human.
Published by: The MIT Press | Publication date: 08/16/2016
Kindle book details: Kindle Edition, 193 pages

Computing: A Concise History (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)
The history of computing could be told as the story of hardware and software, or the story of the Internet, or the story of "smart" hand-held devices, with subplots involving IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. In this concise and accessible account of the invention and development of digital technology, computer historian Paul Ceruzzi offers a broader and more useful perspective. He identifies four major threads that run throughout all of computing's technological development: digitization--the coding of information, computation, and control in binary form, ones and zeros; the convergence of multiple streams of techniques, devices, and machines, yielding more than the sum of their parts; the steady advance of electronic technology, as characterized famously by "Moore's Law"; and the human-machine interface. Ceruzzi guides us through computing history, telling how a Bell Labs mathematician coined the word "digital" in 1942 (to describe a high-speed method of calculating used in anti-aircraft devices), and recounting the development of the punch card (for use in the 1890 U.S. Census). He describes the ENIAC, built for scientific and military applications; the UNIVAC, the first general purpose computer; and ARPANET, the Internet's precursor. Ceruzzi's account traces the world-changing evolution of the computer from a room-size ensemble of machinery to a "minicomputer" to a desktop computer to a pocket-sized smart phone. He describes the development of the silicon chip, which could store ever-increasing amounts of data and enabled ever-decreasing device size. He visits that hotbed of innovation, Silicon Valley, and brings the story up to the present with the Internet, the World Wide Web, and social networking.
Published by: The MIT Press | Publication date: 06/15/2012
Kindle book details: Kindle Edition, 199 pages

The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth (MIT Press)
This comprehensive overview of the modern Chinese economy by a noted expert on China's economic development offers a quality and breadth of coverage not found in any other English-language text. In The Chinese Economy, Barry Naughton provides both an engaging, broadly focused introduction to China's economy since 1949 and original insights based on his own extensive research. The book will be an essential resource for students, teachers, scholars, business people, and policymakers. It is suitable for classroom use for undergraduate or graduate courses.After presenting background material on the pre-1949 economy and the industrialization, reform, and market transition that have taken place since, the book examines different aspects of the modern Chinese economy. It analyzes patterns of growth and development, including population growth and the one-child family policy; the rural economy, including agriculture and rural industrialization; industrial and technological development in urban areas; international trade and foreign investment; macroeconomic trends and cycles and the financial system; and the largely unaddressed problems of environmental quality and the sustainability of growth.The text is notable also for placing China's economy in interesting comparative contexts, discussing it in relation to other transitional or developing economies and to such advanced industrial countries as the United States and Japan. It provides both a broad historical and macro perspective as well as a focused examination of the actual workings of China's complex and dynamic economic development. Interest in the Chinese economy will only grow as China becomes an increasingly important player on the world's stage. This book will be the standard reference for understanding and teaching about the next economic superpower.
Published by: The MIT Press | Publication date: 10/27/2006
Kindle book details: Kindle Edition, 544 pages

Machine Learning: The New AI (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)
Today, machine learning underlies a range of applications we use every day, from product recommendations to voice recognition -- as well as some we don't yet use everyday, including driverless cars. It is the basis of the new approach in computing where we do not write programs but collect data; the idea is to learn the algorithms for the tasks automatically from data. As computing devices grow more ubiquitous, a larger part of our lives and work is recorded digitally, and as "Big Data" has gotten bigger, the theory of machine learning -- the foundation of efforts to process that data into knowledge -- has also advanced. In this book, machine learning expert Ethem Alpaydin offers a concise overview of the subject for the general reader, describing its evolution, explaining important learning algorithms, and presenting example applications.Alpaydin offers an account of how digital technology advanced from number-crunching mainframes to mobile devices, putting today's machine learning boom in context. He describes the basics of machine learning and some applications; the use of machine learning algorithms for pattern recognition; artificial neural networks inspired by the human brain; algorithms that learn associations between instances, with such applications as customer segmentation and learning recommendations; and reinforcement learning, when an autonomous agent learns act so as to maximize reward and minimize penalty. Alpaydin then considers some future directions for machine learning and the new field of "data science," and discusses the ethical and legal implications for data privacy and security.
Published by: The MIT Press | Publication date: 09/30/2016
Kindle book details: Kindle Edition, 224 pages

The Internet of Things (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)
We turn on the lights in our house from a desk in an office miles away. Our refrigerator alerts us to buy milk on the way home. A package of cookies on the supermarket shelf suggests that we buy it, based on past purchases. The cookies themselves are on the shelf because of a "smart" supply chain. When we get home, the thermostat has already adjusted the temperature so that it's toasty or bracing, whichever we prefer. This is the Internet of Things -- a networked world of connected devices, objects, and people. In this book, Samuel Greengard offers a guided tour through this emerging world and how it will change the way we live and work.Greengard explains that the Internet of Things (IoT) is still in its early stages. Smart phones, cloud computing, RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology, sensors, and miniaturization are converging to make possible a new generation of embedded and immersive technology. Greengard traces the origins of the IoT from the early days of personal computers and the Internet and examines how it creates the conceptual and practical framework for a connected world. He explores the industrial Internet and machine-to-machine communication, the basis for smart manufacturing and end-to-end supply chain visibility; the growing array of smart consumer devices and services -- from Fitbit fitness wristbands to mobile apps for banking; the practical and technical challenges of building the IoT; and the risks of a connected world, including a widening digital divide and threats to privacy and security. Finally, he considers the long-term impact of the IoT on society, narrating an eye-opening "Day in the Life" of IoT connections circa 2025.
Published by: The MIT Press | Publication date: 03/20/2015
Kindle book details: Kindle Edition, 232 pages

Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead (MIT Press)
In the coming decade, intelligent cars and trucks will hit the streets, rearranging established industries, enabling new business models, saving lives, easing air pollution, and reshaping cities. Long-suffering commuters will finally be able to live wherever they wish, and read (or nap) on their drive to work. The bad news is that hundreds of thousands of driving-related jobs are at risk, our legal system will need to be re-drawn, and passenger privacy could become a luxury of the past.This book provides a jargon-free overview of the disruptive technologies that enable driverless cars, in particular, Deep Learning, an emerging form of artificial intelligence. Although the technology is nearly ready, car companies and policy makers may not be. The authors shed light on the opportunities and risks posed by self-driving vehicles, and make a compelling case for why their development should be our society's next concerted "Apollo moment." Driverless is a comprehensive and entertaining exploration of self-driving cars. 
Published by: The MIT Press | Publication date: 09/30/2016
Kindle book details: Kindle Edition, 324 pages

Metadata (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)
When "metadata" became breaking news, appearing in stories about surveillance by the National Security Agency, many members of the public encountered this once-obscure term from information science for the first time. Should people be reassured that the NSA was "only" collecting metadata about phone calls -- information about the caller, the recipient, the time, the duration, the location -- and not recordings of the conversations themselves? Or does phone call metadata reveal more than it seems? In this book, Jeffrey Pomerantz offers an accessible and concise introduction to metadata. In the era of ubiquitous computing, metadata has become infrastructural, like the electrical grid or the highway system. We interact with it or generate it every day. It is not, Pomerantz tell us, just "data about data." It is a means by which the complexity of an object is represented in a simpler form. For example, the title, the author, and the cover art are metadata about a book. When metadata does its job well, it fades into the background; everyone (except perhaps the NSA) takes it for granted.Pomerantz explains what metadata is, and why it exists. He distinguishes among different types of metadata -- descriptive, administrative, structural, preservation, and use -- and examines different users and uses of each type. He discusses the technologies that make modern metadata possible, and he speculates about metadata's future. By the end of the book, readers will see metadata everywhere. Because, Pomerantz warns us, it's metadata's world, and we are just living in it.
Published by: The MIT Press | Publication date: 11/13/2015
Kindle book details: Kindle Edition, 252 pages

Memes in Digital Culture (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)
In December 2012, the exuberant video "Gangnam Style" became the first YouTube clip to be viewed more than one billion times. Thousands of its viewers responded by creating and posting their own variations of the video--"Mitt Romney Style," "NASA Johnson Style," "Egyptian Style," and many others. "Gangnam Style" (and its attendant parodies, imitations, and derivations) is one of the most famous examples of an Internet meme: a piece of digital content that spreads quickly around the web in various iterations and becomes a shared cultural experience. In this book, Limor Shifman investigates Internet memes and what they tell us about digital culture. Shifman discusses a series of well-known Internet memes -- including "Leave Britney Alone," the pepper-spraying cop, LOLCats, Scumbag Steve, and Occupy Wall Street's "We Are the 99 Percent." She offers a novel definition of Internet memes: digital content units with common characteristics, created with awareness of each other, and circulated, imitated, and transformed via the Internet by many users. She differentiates memes from virals; analyzes what makes memes and virals successful; describes popular meme genres; discusses memes as new modes of political participation in democratic and nondemocratic regimes; and examines memes as agents of globalization. Memes, Shifman argues, encapsulate some of the most fundamental aspects of the Internet in general and of the participatory Web 2.0 culture in particular. Internet memes may be entertaining, but in this book Limor Shifman makes a compelling argument for taking them seriously.
Published by: The MIT Press | Publication date: 10/04/2013
Kindle book details: Kindle Edition, 216 pages

Cloud Computing (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)
Most of the information available on cloud computing is either highly technical, with details that are irrelevant to non-technologists, or pure marketing hype, in which the cloud is simply a selling point. This book, however, explains the cloud from the user's viewpoint -- the business user's in particular. Nayan Ruparelia explains what the cloud is, when to use it (and when not to), how to select a cloud service, how to integrate it with other technologies, and what the best practices are for using cloud computing. Cutting through the hype, Ruparelia cites the simple and basic definition of cloud computing from the National Institute of Science and Technology: a model enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources. Thus with cloud computing, businesses can harness information technology resources usually available only to large enterprises. And this, Ruparelia demonstrates, represents a paradigm shift for business. It will ease funding for startups, alter business plans, and allow big businesses greater agility. Ruparelia discusses the key issues for any organization considering cloud computing: service level agreements, business service delivery and consumption, finance, legal jurisdiction, security, and social responsibility. He introduces novel concepts made possible by cloud computing: cloud cells, or specialist clouds for specific uses; the personal cloud; the cloud of things; and cloud service exchanges. He examines use case patterns in terms of infrastructure and platform, software information, and business process; and he explains how to transition to a cloud service. Current and future users will find this book an indispensable guide to the cloud.
Published by: The MIT Press | Publication date: 05/06/2016
Kindle book details: Kindle Edition, 280 pages

Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction (MIT Press)
Computer science as an engineering discipline has been spectacularly successful. Yet it is also a philosophical enterprise in the way it represents the world and creates and manipulates models of reality, people, and action. In this book, Paul Dourish addresses the philosophical bases of human-computer interaction. He looks at how what he calls "embodied interaction" -- an approach to interacting with software systems that emphasizes skilled, engaged practice rather than disembodied rationality -- reflects the phenomenological approaches of Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and other twentieth-century philosophers. The phenomenological tradition emphasizes the primacy of natural practice over abstract cognition in everyday activity. Dourish shows how this perspective can shed light on the foundational underpinnings of current research on embodied interaction. He looks in particular at how tangible and social approaches to interaction are related, how they can be used to analyze and understand embodied interaction, and how they could affect the design of future interactive systems.
Author: Paul Dourish
Published by: The MIT Press | Publication date: 08/20/2004
Kindle book details: Kindle Edition, 252 pages
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