What I read in May 2023
31 May 2023 | 5:56 pm

  1. Machinehood by S.B. Divya, 416p: This book is full on ideas and questions about artificial intelligence and how it can integrate with humans. It presents a future dominated by the gig economy, humans have to take advanced enhancement pills to compete with bots and weak AI's (WAI) in the labour force, people have online “tip jars” to receive money from other users that are watching their live social media feeds. It is a disturbing view of the future where there are swarms of nano cameras everywhere, watching and broadcasting everything you do to the internet. The main plot point is the conflict raised by a movement to defend WAI's and bots rights and end the inequality between humans and artificial intelligence. It also touches on the human+machine integration, and how that could change the world. It has lots of interesting ideas, it shows personal insights of the day to day lives of the characters, new views on religion, glimpses of life in space stations, some simplified politics conflicts. I thought that the final resolution of the plot was too easy, and a little bit too rushed.

  2. Children of Time (Children of Time #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 599p: Earth is dust, humans are looking for new planets to settle. Generation ships travelling for thousands of years, genetically engineered spiders, failed terraformed planets, first contact, a look into an alien society evolving through the years. Even though there are wars and the classic conflicts for power, I liked the optimistic ending.

  3. Honor and Shadows (Starlight's Shadow #0.5) by Jessie Mihalik, 70p: Short story, not much to it. Just another day in the life of Captain Octavia Zarola, trying to do good in the world.

  4. A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas, 419p: It was not my cup of tea. I didn't really like any of the main characters, I thought the Fae magic powers were loosely explained, it felt limitless and inconsistent.  The romance didn't convince me at all. Can’t say more without huge spoilers.

  5. Avogadro Corp (Singularity #1) by William Hertling, 302p: What if a generative artificial intelligence is incorporated into an email program to help users write more compelling messages based on data from all the emails that are sent back forth? Sounds familiar? What if this AI receives a directive to benefit its own development and starts to write emails on its own?  The book was written in 2011 and it already talks about generative artificial intelligence.  An interesting premise, it got me hooked till the end.  It made want to continue reading the series.

  6. Homo Distractus: Fight for your choices and identity in the digital age by Anastasia Dedyukhina, 282p: Lots of references about how technology is impacting us and possible strategies to fight the downsides. I enjoyed the first chapters talking about how devices affect our focus, the advantages of deep reading, the ineffectiveness of “multitasking” and the importance of making space for boredom. It is still relevant today.

#readinglist #books #reading

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

Overall noise
26 May 2023 | 5:32 pm

I’m reading the book “Homo distractus: Fight for your choices and identity in the digital age” by Anastasia Dedyukhina, and I enjoyed the section that discussed our society’s increasing sense of lack of time.

The perception that there’s not enough time to do things comes from the increasing amount of information we have to deal with today. Emails, text messages, news updates, endless social media feeds…etc.

And the apps designed to distribute all this “content” make us believe that it’s important to “share” all this information, as fast as possible, even without truly understanding the message. The author explains:

“Sharing information, encouraged by social media, is another example of how tech design creates the sense of urgency and the lack of time in our minds. The faster we share, the more rewarded we are by getting our likes or shares.” — Homo Distractus, Chapter 4: The Time Crisis

So, it seems social media spaces are now this crazy noisy place, where everybody is shouting something, trying to get attention (rewards), without even knowing what they are shouting about:

“By sharing whatever captures our attention, and not what we know is credible, we just contribute to the overall noise making ourselves and others even more overwhelmed.” — Homo Distractus, Chapter 4: The Time Crisis

And that just creates more noise… it’s overwhelming. It's too scattered, it's too noisy, too random. This “Always Keep Up” method of being online is draining (thanks ~loghead for the term) and I can’t stand it anymore (I’m looking at you, Mastodon!).

#noisymusings #socialmedia #internet #attentionresistance

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

What I read in April 2023
30 April 2023 | 8:35 pm

  1. Foundryside (The Founders Trilogy #1) by Robert Jackson Bennett, 503p: I enjoyed the magic system of giving the power of sentience to objects. It adds a whimsical feel to the story. I loved the main character, Sancia: she's a rogue/thief, living in the outskirts of society getting by as best she can. She is smart and independent. She has a dark past, being a victim of unmentionable experiments that left her with uncomfortable (but useful) abilities. One of her goals is to get enough money to cure herself. The world building is cool with an everyday magic aspect based on using ancient alphabet to imbue commands to objects and convince them to behave in certain ways. This process is called “scriving”. For example, a sword can be “scrived” to believe it is as sharp as ten blades in one, capable of cutting through nearly anything. The last third of the book dragged a little bit, but overall, it was very interesting with a main character that I sympathised with.

  2. The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax, 304p: It's an interesting account of some analog technology that came back after the phase of digitisation that started with the first computers in the 60's and 70's. My favorite chapters were the ones about the revenge of Vinyl and Moleskine notebooks. After the music industry distribution went digital, culminating in music streaming services, there was a movement to get back to vinyl. Records pressing plants were restored and put into operation again.  Moleskine started a designer trend towards nice and beautiful paper notebooks. Film directors helped the movement for analog film movies again, film producing factories were re-opened and it's possible to get new Polaroid and Instax cameras nowadays. It also touches on board games, meditation sessions in the workplace, high-end analog wristwatches, print books: all things that are contrasting with the digital environment we live in today. The author praises these analog experiences, reasoning on why we need them more than ever and points out these markets tend to grow even more. Sometimes I found the tone of the arguments too geared towards consumerism and these non-digital options were just creating a market for wealthier people to consume more things. I've been reading digital books for years and I don't plan on going back to paper books (the irony of reading a book about non-digital things in an e-reader).

  3. Atlas Alone (Planetfall #4) by Emma Newman, 320p: This book takes place 6 months after the events of Planetfall #2 (“After Atlas”). We have Dee as our main character and she gets unknowingly involved in a suspected murder inside the colony ship. As we know from the previous book, Dee is an avid gamer, and she soon joins elite game servers, or “leets” where the gamers real life abilities are represented in game, making these games extremely challenging. This is another unputdownable book by Emma Newman with virtual reality immersive games, discussions about AI and consciousness, corporate indenture, social justice and revenge. It's all intertwined with the main character's journey confronting her traumatic past while she investigates and plans for the future. It's intense, thrilling and the ending was breathtaking. 

  4. Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Glover Tawwab, 282p: This is a light read on the topic, offering practical examples on phrases to express verbally our boundaries. I had the impression the topic was over simplified. The author mentions a lot of “results” from polls she conducted in her Instagram account with her followers and that took away some of the credibility of the facts presented. 

#readinglist #books #reading

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

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