Friday, December 24, 2021

Book Review: The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human RaceThe Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book I've read in the last few weeks by Walter Isaacson. He knows how to tell a story.

I was surprised how much competition there is in the academic world. There is a lot of pressure to get a paper published first. It is all bound up with patents and the money inherent in cures for diseases. However, there was also cooperation when it came to detection, a vaccine, and perhaps a cure for Covid-19.

The book pointed out more than one example where the accomplishments of women were overlooked. Though, Doudna and Charpentier both won a Nobel, so perhaps things are changing.

Lastly, the author pointed out that college majors in the life sciences are up 17% since the start of Covid. That is a great thing - it would be wonderful if more people worked in that field!

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Monday, December 13, 2021

Book Review: The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital RevolutionThe Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. We tend to glorify the big names: Gates, Bezos, Zuckerberg -- but this book includes the people that worked with them and that sometimes provided more value!

I liked the parts stressing how the computer should augment human abilities rather than replace humans. I joined the bandwagon in the early 80s and thought the computer would unleash a creative storm, and ultimately make us smarter. I was only partly right. 

The book was written in 2014, so it's a bit dated in one respect. He thought social media would connect people, create community. He was right to an extent of course, but I think he didn't foresee how much our data would be used to market to us, to manipulate us, and in a political / cultural sense -- separate us.

I find it unfortunate that the original idea of computing and the internet (discussed nicely in this book) seems to have fallen by the wayside. It's now monopolized by social media. Many people seem to think Facebook is the internet and that is unfortunate.

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Fox News Trying to Rile People Up for No Good Reason Again

I saw this post today about a Fox News interview with this guy claiming that Microsoft is trying to change society by nudging writers into u...