Summer vacations are perfect to spend time reading and delving into the future that technology holds for us. Credit: Dan Dumitriu.
JAVIER YANES | Tungsteno
Although we humans need to cut back on our daily obligations for a few weeks every year to recover from our hectic lives and recharge our batteries, machines have no such limitations: they never rest. And so, while they continue to work for us, we can afford to stretch out in a hammock and learn what they hold for the future through this short selection of tech titles.
The conquest of the Moon: the making of
Apollo 11: The exciting story of how man stepped on the Moon for the first time, Eduardo García Llama (Crítica, 2019) (currently only available in Spanish)
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission that led to humans walking on the Moon, countless tributes have been paid around the world in the form of books, documentaries and exhibitions. However, few works have such a privileged perspective as the new book by Eduardo García Llama, physicist and engineer at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, from where the Apollo missions were guided. The author is also currently involved in the Orion spacecraft project that will take the next generation of astronauts to the Moon.
To this is added the originality of the approach: in novel format, García Llama's book narrates the space odyssey of Armstrong and his companions, giving voice to the protagonists but at the same time reviewing the immense technological challenges that this human ambition involved, and for whose successful completion practically everything had to be invented from scratch.
Plan B for humanity: a tomorrow far from Earth
The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth, Michio Kaku (Doubleday Books, 2018)
The expansion of humans beyond their home planet is undoubtedly the most classic dream of science fiction, but it’s a task that’s eternally postponed to the future. However, it seems that today plans are finally taking shape to return to the Moon and conquer Mars, except this time not as visitors but as settlers. Whether or not it will finally come to pass only time will tell, given that the enormous investments necessary to make it happen are far from guaranteed. But in the event that it does happen, we now have a prediction of how it will be through the visionary eyes of physicist and science disseminator Michio Kaku.
Kaku’s ideas are based on current projects and on the speeding up of the technological pace. He predicts that by the middle of this century we will have a stable colony on Mars and at the beginning of the next century cities will begin to be built there, while the planet undergoes a process of terraforming to turn it into a more hospitable environment for life. But with the advancement of technological progress, Kaku predicts that eventually we won’t even need to board a spaceship to move there: once we have mastered mapping the entire brain, it will suffice to encode our consciousness in a laser transmission to upload it to a machine on Mars or even to some nearby star.
How to train your robot
Ethics For Machines, José Ignacio Latorre Sentís (Ariel, 2019) (currently only available in Spanish)
Almost since we humans began to speculate about the creation of artificial intelligent beings, we also began to reflect on how we would get them to learn to behave and to act according to an ethical code written by us, their creators. The three laws of robotics formulated by biochemist and writer Isaac Asimov set the goal to be achieved, opening a field of reflection and debate that for decades has also been one of the main plots of science fiction.
And yet, in real life, we are still at the beginning of that path. As José Ignacio Latorre, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Barcelona, explores in his latest book, we have reached the time in which Artificial Intelligence has developed to such an extent that we have already delegated many of our decisions to it, and yet society has still not tackled the great challenge of equipping machines with what only we can grant them: a human ethic.
Travel guide for the future
Artificial intelligence: 101 Things You Must Know Today About Our Future, Lasse Rouhiainen (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018)
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, fear has circulated about how mechanization would destroy jobs by delegating to machines many tasks that were previously done by hand. And while there is no doubt that technological progress does annihilate countless jobs, it also creates many new ones. It is a matter of adapting in order to survive and knowing what the most sought-after skills will be in a future increasingly dominated by technology.
This is one of the fields explored in the latest book by new-technology expert Lasse Rouhiainen. With a practical approach and an informative and intimate style, the author raises 101 questions and answers about how Artificial Intelligence will drastically modify all spheres of our society in the coming years, and how we should prepare ourselves to surf successfully on the crest of that technological wave.
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Tungsteno is a journalism laboratory to scan the essence of innovation. Devised by Materia Publicaciones Científicas for Sacyr’s blog.