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New Books in Science, Technology, and Society

Science Podcasts

Interviews with Scholars of Science, Technology, and Society about their New Books

Interviews with Scholars of Science, Technology, and Society about their New Books

Location:

United States

Description:

Interviews with Scholars of Science, Technology, and Society about their New Books

Language:

English


Episodes

Adrian Currie, "Rock, Bone, and Ruin: An Optimist’s Guide to the Historical Sciences" (MIT Press, 2018)

3/27/2020
The “historical sciences”—geology, paleontology, and archaeology—have made extraordinary progress in advancing our understanding of the deep past. How has this been possible, given that the evidence they have to work with offers mere traces of the past? In Rock, Bone, and Ruin: An Optimist’s Guide to the Historical Sciences (MIT Press, 2018), Adrian Currie explains that these scientists are “methodological omnivores,” with a variety of strategies and techniques at their disposal, and that...

Duration:00:53:10

Neil Selwyn, "What is Digital Sociology?" (Polity, 2019)

3/27/2020
The rise of digital technology is transforming the world in which we live. Our digitalized societies demand new ways of thinking about the social, and this short book introduces readers to an approach that can deliver this: digital sociology. In What is Digital Sociology (Polity, 2019), Neil Selwyn examines the concepts, tools and practices that sociologists are developing to analyze the intersections of the social and the digital. Blending theory and empirical examples, the five chapters...

Duration:00:54:25

Margaret E. Roberts, "Censored: Distraction and Diversion Inside China’s Great Firewall" (Princeton UP, 2020)

3/27/2020
We often think of censorship as governments removing material or harshly punishing people who spread or access information. But Margaret E. Roberts’ new book Censored: Distraction and Diversion Inside China’s Great Firewall (Princeton University Press, 2020) reveals the nuances of censorship in the age of the internet. She identifies 3 types of censorship: fear (threatening punishment to deter the spread or access of information); friction (increasing the time or money necessary to access...

Duration:00:48:04

Maurice Finocchiaro, "On Trial for Reason: Science, Religion, and Culture in the Galileo Affair" (Oxford UP, 2019)

3/26/2020
In his new book On Trial for Reason: Science, Religion, and Culture in the Galileo Affair (Oxford University Press, 2019), Maurice Finocchiaro shows that there were (and are) really two Galileo “affairs.” Galileo’s original trial and condemnation forms the first affair, the cultural history of controversies about the meaning of the original trial, forms the second. With scrupulous attention to evidence and the argumentation employed by various participants, Dr. Finocchiaro’s book is at once...

Duration:01:02:19

Joseph Reagle, "Hacking Life: Systematized Living and its Discontents" (MIT Press, 2019)

3/26/2020
Life hackers track and analyze the food they eat, the hours they sleep, the money they spend, and how they're feeling on any given day. They share tips on the most efficient ways to tie shoelaces and load the dishwasher; they employ a tomato-shaped kitchen timer as a time-management tool. They see everything as a system composed of parts that can be decomposed and recomposed, with algorithmic rules that can be understood, optimized, and subverted. In Hacking Life: Systematized Living and its...

Duration:01:14:20

Great Books: Julie Carlson on Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"

3/24/2020
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley wrote Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus when she was nineteen years old on a bet. The novel spawned two centuries of creatures that turn against their makers. It examines the limits of scientific innovation, whether the quest for knowledge must be tempered by morality, and why human beings tend to ostracize, persecute and sometimes kill anything that does not look like them. I spoke with Julie Carlson, a professor at the University of California, Santa...

Duration:00:53:55

Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, "Übermensch: Plädoyer Für Einen Nietzscheanischen Transhumanismus" (Schwabe, 2019)

3/19/2020
In this episode I talk Stefan Lorenz Sorgner. Stefan teaches philosophy at John Cabot University in Rome. He is director and co-founder of the Beyond Humanism Network, Fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), Research Fellow at the Ewha Institute for the Humanities at Ewha Woman's University in Seoul, and Visiting Fellow at the Ethics Centre of the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena. His main fields of research are Nietzsche, the philosophy of music, bioethics...

Duration:01:16:08

Melissa Kravetz, "Women Doctors in Weimar and Nazi Germany: Maternalism, Eugenics and Professional Identity" (U Toronto Press, 2019)

3/17/2020
In her new book, Women Doctors in Weimar and Nazi Germany: Maternalism, Eugenics and Professional Identity (University of Toronto Press, 2019), Melissa Kravetz examines how German women physicians gained a foothold in the medical profession during the Weimar and Nazi periods, Women Doctors in Weimar and Nazi Germany reveals the continuity in rhetoric, strategy, and tactics of female doctors who worked under both regimes. Additionally, she explains how and why women occupied particular fields...

Duration:01:00:11

Nancy Appelbaum, "Mapping the Country of Regions: The Chorographic Commission of Nineteenth-Century Colombia" (UNC Press, 2016)

3/13/2020
In the mid-nineteenth century, the Chorographic Commission of Colombia, an ambitious geographical expedition, set out to define and map a nascent and still unstable republic. The commission’s purpose was to survey the land, its resources and people, and portray Colombia as a nation prone to the “wonders” of modernization. In Mapping the Country of Regions: The Chorographic Commission of Nineteenth-Century Colombia (University of North Carolina Press, 2016), Nancy P. Appelbaum reconstructs...

Duration:00:58:30

Jacob Turner, "Robot Rules: Regulating Artificial Intelligence" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018)

3/12/2020
In his new book Robot Rules: Regulating Artificial Intelligence (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), Jacob Turner explains why AI is unique, what legal and ethical problems it could cause, and how we can address them. It argues that AI is unlike is any other previous technology, owing to its ability to take decisions independently and unpredictably. This gives rise to three issues: responsibility―who is liable if AI causes harm; rights―the disputed moral and pragmatic grounds for granting AI legal...

Duration:01:15:20

Adrian Wisnicki, "Fieldwork of Empire, 1840-1900: Intercultural Dynamics in the Production of British Expeditionary Literature" (Routledge, 2019)

3/6/2020
Adrian Wisnicki talks about the British expeditionary literature of the late 1800s. Reading between the lines of Victorian travel accounts, Wisnicki sees outlines of a bigger story — local peoples, landscapes, and ways of life. Wisnicki is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Faculty Fellow of the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. For the past ten years he has served as the director (along with co-director Megan Ward) of Livingstone Online...

Duration:00:32:41

Jerome Whitington, "Anthropogenic Rivers: The Production of Uncertainty in Lao Hydropower" (Cornell UP, 2018)

3/6/2020
Jerome Whitington's Anthropogenic Rivers: The Production of Uncertainty in Lao Hydropower (Cornell University Press, 2019) examines the dynamics and discourses centered around the development of hydropower dams in the Mekong River Basin. Through deep and connected ethnographies, the book traces how such projects create ecologically uncertain environments and the surprising ways they offer new capacities for being human. Along the way, this study unpacks puzzles such as why corporate...

Duration:00:39:57

Kate Devlin, "Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots" (Bloomsbury, 2018)

3/5/2020
The idea of the seductive sex robot is the stuff of myth, legend and science fiction. From the ancient Greeks to twenty-first century movies, robots in human form have captured our imagination, our hopes and our fears. But beyond the fantasies there are real and fundamental questions about our relationship with technology as it moves into the realm of robotics. Artificial intelligence raises very real concerns. Sexual activity is central to our very existence; it shapes how we think, how we...

Duration:01:02:30

Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein, "Data Feminism" (MIT Press, 2020)

3/3/2020
The increased datafication our interactions and permeation of data science into more aspects of our lives requires analysis of the systems of power surrounding and undergirding data. The impacts of the creation, use, collection, and aggregation of data are such that individuals from various communities face disparate, negative impacts. In their new book, Data Feminism (MIT Press, Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein, call for changing the way we think about data and how it is communicated,...

Duration:00:35:51

Michael Rechtenwald, "Google Archipelago: The Digital Gulag and the Simulation of Freedom" (New English Review, 2019)

3/2/2020
In his book about enormous sea changes brought about by digital technology, Michael Rectenwald begins and ends his Google Archipelago: The Digital Gulag and the Simulation of Freedom (New English Review, 2019) with the political, in particular with the objectives of the Big Digi­tal conglomerates as global corporate monopoly capitalists or would-be-monopolies. Google Archipelago argues that Big Digital technologies and their principals represent not only economic powerhouses but also new...

Duration:01:38:59

David J. Gunkel, "Robot Rights" (MIT Press, 2018)

2/27/2020
We are in the midst of a robot invasion, as devices of different configurations and capabilities slowly but surely come to take up increasingly important positions in everyday social reality―self-driving vehicles, recommendation algorithms, machine learning decision making systems, and social robots of various forms and functions. Although considerable attention has already been devoted to the subject of robots and responsibility, the question concerning the social status of these artifacts...

Duration:01:29:09

Phillipa Chong, “Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times” (Princeton UP, 2020)

2/25/2020
How does the world of book reviews work? In Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times (Princeton University Press, 2020), Phillipa Chong, assistant professor in sociology at McMaster University, provides a unique sociological analysis of how critics confront the different types of uncertainty associated with their practice. The book explores how reviewers get matched to books, the ethics and etiquette of negative reviews and ‘punching up’, along with professional...

Duration:00:40:41

Sarah Fawn Montgomery, "Quite Mad: An American Pharma Memoir" (Mad Creek Books, 2018)

2/24/2020
If you live in America, chances are good you’ve heard the term “mental health crisis” bandied about in the media. While true that anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders seem to be on the rise—especially among young people—resources for addressing them remain scarce and stigmatized, and the conditions themselves remain poorly understood. Even doctors and scientists don’t have all the answers. For example, is the development of a mood disorder the product of nature or nurture? Why are...

Duration:00:38:06

Amy Shira Teitel, "Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight Before NASA" (Bloomsbury, 2016)

2/21/2020
Amy Shira Teitel talks about Apollo and the community of people who are deeply attached to space history. Teitel is a spaceflight historian and the creator of the YouTube Channel, Vintage Space. She is also the author of Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight Before NASA (Bloomsbury, 2016) and Apollo Pilot: The Memory of Astronaut Don Eisele (University of Nebraska Press, 2017). NASA's history is a familiar story, culminating with the agency successfully landing men on the...

Duration:00:29:10

Virginia Eubanks, "Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor" (St. Martin's, 2018)

2/20/2020
The State of Indiana denies one million applications for healthcare, foodstamps and cash benefits in three years―because a new computer system interprets any mistake as “failure to cooperate.” In Los Angeles, an algorithm calculates the comparative vulnerability of tens of thousands of homeless people in order to prioritize them for an inadequate pool of housing resources. In Pittsburgh, a child welfare agency uses a statistical model to try to predict which children might be future victims...

Duration:01:21:17