This lovingly crafted blog is celebrating its tenth birthday. A beer (or ten) is cooling in the fridge to toast the reaching of a milestone. Happy birthday!
• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns nine…
• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns eight…
• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns seven…
• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns six…
• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns five…
• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns four…
• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns three…
This great video explains who is at threat from automation in the workplace. Watch it and, like me, try to think what you can do about it…
• Spare Cycles: Article: Better Than Human (Wired)
• Spare Cycles: Mini Review: Race Against The Machine
• BuzzMachine.com: The jobless future
• Douglas Rushkoff : Are Jobs Obsolete?
This is the story of the early development of the computer in the United States, one that is inextricably linked to the creation of the atomic and hydrogen bombs. Despite Turing’s name in the title, he only plays a small role. Rather, this book concerns John von Neumann and the Institute for Advanced Study – how a group of mathematicians and engineers took Turing’s idea of a Universal machine and made one of the early computers.
I am conflicted about this book. It is a definitive telling of the story of what happened on the other side of the Atlantic and I do recommend it to anyone interested in the subject. On the other hand, it can be rather dry and contains some largely unnecessary information. I’m all for details to make the history come alive, but some passages take you into quite long diversions from the tale being told. This could put off some readers early on, but I’d advise you to stick with it. Also, towards the end of the book the author tries to link the early developments with the internet and technology companies of today but he doesn’t do a particularly good job. To me it seemed redundant.
In relation to the audiobook version, the narrator does as a professional job – another default American male voice. It can be a little monotonous, but consistent. He does a good job with some challenging names of people and places. There are a lot of characters in this book and he wisely does not try to give each person their own voice.
Overall I would recommend this book. It is not perfect but in general it is a good story well told. This is one of the rare books where I would recommend you go for the paper version – there can be a lot to digest at points and it would be easier to follow. At some point I will pick up a copy myself, not to fully re-read but to be able to refer back to.
• The Wall Street Journal: The Nucleus of the Digital Age
• The Guardian: Turing’s Cathedral by George Dyson – review
I love listening to Vint Cerf talk – he is the type of representative that the technology industry needs more of. Several years back now I had the chance to attend a lunchtime Q and A session with him and I liked the level of thought he put into his responses. So I was very pleased when two recent interviews with him came up…
This is essentially an updated and re-written version of the authors’ earlier book Race Against The Machine, although it has a much more positive outlook on technology and the future it will shape.
The book highlights three things that are contributing to the increasing influence of machines:
- exponential growth in the capabilities of computer hardware (and the subsequent lower cost of providing a digital service)
- more and more aspects of life are becoming digital and this will continue
- combinatorial forces (taking existing technologies and putting them together in new ways).
The authors excel when they look at how existing technological change has economically affected different people and how the situation has altered over time. Amongst other things, it explains why some people can become incredibly (obscenely) rich whilst others will no longer be able to escape their original economic class and improve their economic situation. They successfully give the impression that they have carefully looked at the evidence and come to reasonable conclusions.
They also offer some tips on how to “race with the machines”. Sometimes a human working in conjunction with a machine can achieve a better result than a computer simply replacing a human.
A comment about the narration on the audiobook version: what you have here is a bog standard American doing a distinctly average job of conveying the content of the book. It achieves nothing more. Any attempt to try a different accent or pronounce foreign words totally fails. It seems to me that this is the de-facto voice used to appeal to American businessmen, but I’m sure that other narrators could do a much better job. Good narration can add so much. They should have gone for a narrator who is used to doing fiction to bring this book alive. There are many valuable points and arguments made here, so the publishers should make it as accessible as possible.
Areas covered this year…
• Personalised learning
• Buying locally (mixing online intelligence with brick-and-mortar stores)
• Personalised Cancer treatment
• Digital security
• Future cities
• IBM: The 5 in 5