- From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds by Daniel C. Dennett
- Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life by Amy E. Herman
- Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins by Garry Kasparov, Mig Greengard
- Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation by Alan Burdick
Click the titles to see where they are in the library, and click the Goodreads link for book reviews. If you’re a Goodreads user, don’t forget to add NYU Shanghai Library to your friends list.
“How did we come to have minds?
For centuries, this question has intrigued psychologists, physicists, poets, and philosophers, who have wondered how the human mind developed its unrivaled ability to create, imagine, and explain. Disciples of Darwin have long aspired to explain how consciousness, language, and culture could have appeared through natural selection, blazing promising trails that tend, however, to end in confusion and controversy. Even though our understanding of the inner workings of proteins, neurons, and DNA is deeper than ever before, the matter of how our minds came to be has largely remained a mystery.
That is now changing, says Daniel C. Dennett. In From Bacteria to Bach and Back, his most comprehensive exploration of evolutionary thinking yet, he builds on ideas from computer science and biology to show how a comprehending mind could in fact have arisen from a mindless process of natural selection. Part philosophical whodunit, part bold scientific conjecture, this landmark work enlarges themes that have sustained Dennett’s legendary career at the forefront of philosophical thought.
In his inimitable style—laced with wit and arresting thought experiments—Dennett explains that a crucial shift occurred when humans developed the ability to share memes, or ways of doing things not based in genetic instinct. Language, itself composed of memes, turbocharged this interplay. Competition among memes—a form of natural selection—produced thinking tools so well-designed that they gave us the power to design our own memes. The result, a mind that not only perceives and controls but can create and comprehend, was thus largely shaped by the process of cultural evolution.
An agenda-setting book for a new generation of philosophers, scientists, and thinkers, From Bacteria to Bach and Back will delight and entertain anyone eager to make sense of how the mind works and how it came about.” – from Goodreads
“An engrossing guide to seeing – and communicating – more clearly from the groundbreaking course that helps FBI agents, cops, CEOs, ER docs, and others save money, reputations, and lives.
How could looking at Monet’s water lily paintings help save your company millions? How can checking out people’s footwear foil a terrorist attack? How can your choice of adjective win an argument, calm your kid, or catch a thief?
In her celebrated seminar, the Art of Perception, art historian Amy Herman has trained experts from many fields how to perceive and communicate better. By showing people how to look closely at images, she helps them hone their “visual intelligence,” a set of skills we all possess but few of us know how to use properly. She has spent more than a decade teaching doctors to observe patients instead of their charts, helping police officers separate facts from opinions when investigating a crime, and training professionals from the FBI, the State Department, Fortune 500 companies, and the military to recognize the most pertinent and useful information. Her lessons highlight far more than the physical objects you may be missing; they teach you how to recognize the talents, opportunities, and dangers that surround you every day.
Whether you want to be more effective on the job, more empathetic toward your loved ones, or more alert to the trove of possibilities and threats all around us, this book will show you how to see what matters most to you more clearly than ever before.” – from Goodreads
“Garry Kasparov’s 1997 chess match against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue was a watershed moment in the history of technology. It was the dawn of a new era in artificial intelligence: a machine capable of beating the reigning human champion at this most cerebral game.
That moment was more than a century in the making, and in this breakthrough book, Kasparov reveals his astonishing side of the story for the first time. He describes how it felt to strategize against an implacable, untiring opponent with the whole world watching, and recounts the history of machine intelligence through the microcosm of chess, considered by generations of scientific pioneers to be a key to unlocking the secrets of human and machine cognition. Kasparov uses his unrivaled experience to look into the future of intelligent machines and sees it bright with possibility. As many critics decry artificial intelligence as a menace, particularly to human jobs, Kasparov shows how humanity can rise to new heights with the help of our most extraordinary creations, rather than fear them. Deep Thinking is a tightly argued case for technological progress, from the man who stood at its precipice with his own career at stake.” – from Goodreads
““Time” is the most commonly used noun in the English language; it’s always on our minds and it advances through every living moment. But what is time, exactly? Do children experience it the same way adults do? Why does it seem to slow down when we’re bored and speed by as we get older? How and why does time fly?
In this witty and meditative exploration, award-winning author and New Yorker staff writer Alan Burdick takes readers on a personal quest to understand how time gets in us and why we perceive it the way we do. In the company of scientists, he visits the most accurate clock in the world (which exists only on paper); discovers that “now” actually happened a split-second ago; finds a twenty-fifth hour in the day; lives in the Arctic to lose all sense of time; and, for one fleeting moment in a neuroscientist’s lab, even makes time go backward. Why Time Flies is an instant classic, a vivid and intimate examination of the clocks that tick inside us all.” – from Goodreads