Great Libraries Post

Books

I saw the post “Libraries Around the World” earlier today. I thought it was a wonderful collections of libraries to visit if I ever have the opportunity. 

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Should We Fear a Robot Army?

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So . . . do we have reason to fear robots rising up against humanity?

Certainly there are many that think that with the advance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the rapidly expanding use of robots in the military, we have reason to be cautious. The ‘rise of the robots’ was one of the subjects of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting held in Davos Switzerland last week.

We have already seen cautionary statements from renowned physicist Stephen Hawking with regards to AI. Feelings were mixed on autonomous armed robots. Some feel that these robots would significantly reduce civilian casualties in the event of an armed conflict.

Development of these robots is more than likely to continue, whether or not they are deployed. One of the panel members, Sir Roger Carr, the BAE Systems chair and an artificial intelligence expert, suggests that the market for autonomous weapons is worth on the order of $40 billion. Nor is the development limited to just the US, China and Russia. Development is happening in 40 or so countries.

Considering that is difficult to build a robot that reliably scoots around the floor to vacuum, I don’t think we have to start looking over our shoulders just yet. What I think it does mean is that there will be increasing research to bring some level of ethics to autonomous systems. This will be much like Iassic Asimov‘s three laws of robotics.

References:

  1. Science fiction might become science fact; Killer Robot Army

Review of “Adrift”

I just finished reading Adrift by Terry Burlison (http://www.terryburlison.com). Mr. Burlison has published a dozen or so fiction and non-fiction stories. This Science Fiction short story can be read here on the Baen publishing web site.

Dan Colton was one of the shift foreman for the crew building Solar Power Satellite Three (SPS-3) in orbit. An unlikely accident sends him flying into space and with no means of communication. The crew of SPS-3 can see Dan, but will they be able to devise a rescue plan before his limited oxygen supply is gone.

This is very short story, only taking about 20 minutes to read. I did like it though. I give this short story a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Review of “Falcone Strikes”

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“Falcone Strike” eBook was published in 2016 (January) and was written by Christopher Nuttall (http://www.chrishanger.net). Mr. Nuttall has published more than 20 novels and this is the second in his “Angel in the Whirlwind” Science Fiction series.

I received a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are instances of Violence, Mature Language and Mature Situations. This Science Fiction novel is set in the years following 2420. Humanity has spread to the stars, but there has been a rebellion and Earth is now gone.

The primary character is Katherine “Kat” Falcone, Captain of the Commonwealth cruiser, the HMS CA Lightning. On shore leave while her ship is repaired from damages suffered during the first novel in the series (“The Oncoming Storm”), Falcone finds herself in a predicament. Not suited well to the politics in the capital, she jumps at the chance for a dangerous mission behind enemy lines.

Falcone takes the Lightning and a handful of aged ships behind Theocracy lines. She plans a series of daring raids to strike at the Theocracy supply lines and war production facilities. She soon discovers that she not only has to battle the enemy fleet, but at least one spy aboard her Commonwealth ships.

Already a hero in the Commonwealth from her earlier confrontation with the Theocracy, Falcone and her crew struggle to survive their mission while disrupting the Theocracy as much as they can. Some, maybe all, of Falcone’s ships may be lost on the mission. Will she be able to keep up the pressure, but know when it is time to withdraw.

I thoroughly enjoyed the near 10 hours I spent with this novel. It reminded me a lot of David Weber’s (http://www.davidweber.net/) “Honor Harrington” series. This was every bit as good as the first novel in the series. Kat Falcone’s character makes another strong female role in Science Fiction. I look forward to reading more stories about her. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

 

Do you Use the Chrome Browser on Your Mac?

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Do you use the Chrome Browser? I made Safari my default browser on OS X a couple of years ago because of the integration it has with other Apps. I came across the article “10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Chrome on a MacBook” yesterday and it brings out some interesting points about using Chrome on a Mac.

I still use Chrome, but just when I am wanting to access Google+ or Google Docs. I have not experienced the problems mentioned in this article, but then I do not use Chrome often, let it run on my Mac Mini for extended periods of time, nor do I have many extensions installed.

The fact that enough people have apparently experienced problems to warrant this article tells me that Mac users should at least be aware of potential issues with using Chrome.


See my other Mac OS X articles


Third Try, Third Failure – But Getting Closer

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SpaceX made a third attempt at landing their first stage on a drone ship in the Pacific. While SpaceX did successfully land a first stage on land a few months earlier, this latest attempt, unfortunately, resulted in a failure. The touch down went as planned, but one of the four stabilizing legs collapsed. The rocket tipped over, crashing onto the ship deck and exploded (see the video in this article).

SpaceX seems to be getting closer to a successful landing with each launch. It will certainly move commercial space programs forward if they can retrieve the working first stage for reuse. Recycling the first stage will reduce the cost of launches.

Review of “Quest”

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“Quest” eBook was published in 2015 (originally published on paper in 1987) and was written by Richard Ben Sapir (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Sapir). Mr. Sapir authored or co-authored many novels.

I received a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ (barely) because it contains scenes of Violence, some Mature Situations and Mature Language. The setting of this Mystery Thriller novel is mostly in New York, New York during the 1980s, with a few other locations around the world thrown in. The primary characters are Claire Andrews, a young, attractive woman of means, and Detective Artie Modelstein of the New York Police Department.

Andrew’s father had come to New York to sell an Elizabethan era salt cellar. What made this item special was all of the jewels that adorned it. Unknown to Mr. Andrews, hidden inside was a piece of religious history. Mr. Andrews is murdered, and then the salt cellar is stolen.

Young Miss Andrews comes to New your intent on finding who killed her father and what happened to the salt cellar. Along the way she meets Modelstein who works in the Frauds/Jewels department of NYPD. Modelstein finds Andrews attractive, but thinks she has unrealistic expectations of getting the salt cellar back.

Captain Rawson shows up from the UK. He also claims the salt cellar was stolen from his family just after World War II. They begin to find evidence that the jewels have been removed from the salt cellar, and are being sold off separately. A series of murders, some in New York, others in Europe, seem to follow any who have been associated with the salt cellar or it’s jewels. Andrews does an incredible job of historical research to find the trail of the salt cellar and it’s jewels through history. Her discoveries eventually place she and, now fiancé, Modelstein squarely in the murder’s sites.

This is an older novel and the story feels that way. It was an interesting read of 11 hours for this 404 page novel. I liked the story, but I thought it was a little weak. I give this novel a 3.8 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

More Jobs Predicted to be Lost to Robots

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I saw another forecast today (Robots, new working ways to cost five million jobs by 2020, Davos study says) predicting job loss to robots. This one was made by the World Economic Forum (WEF) which is holding their annual meeting this week in Switzerland.

They predict a loss of 7.1 million jobs but with an offset of 2 million new jobs due to the increasing use of robots and artificial intelligence systems. Most of the projected 5.1 million jobs lost will be in the office and administrative sectors. While job loss is expected in virtually every industry, they see the largest impact to be in healthcare and financial services. The pending “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is the topic of WEF’s meeting in Davos that starts this week running January 20-23.

Review of “Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company”

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“Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company” eBook was published in 2015 and was authored by Alexander Freed (http://www.alexanderfreed.com/). Mr. Freed is the author or co-author of nearly a dozen books and comics.

I received a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains some scenes of Violence. The setting of this Science Fiction novel is the Star Wars universe. It spans the time from just before Hoth falls in “The Empire Strikes Back” to shortly after. None of the main Star Wars characters are included. The focus is on the 61st Mobile Infantry – Twilight Company – of the Rebel Alliance. Hazram Namir, the Twilight Comapny First Sergeant, is the primary character, though several others are important.

Twilight company is a rag tag outfit. It is made up of volunteers recruited from nearly every world that the Alliance sends the unit. Twilight company seems to get many of those missions that have little likelihood of success. Yet somehow, Twilight company struggles through and rebuilds itself for the next confrontation.

Time and again Twilight company finds itself confronting Star Troopers of the Empire. They always find a way to battle through even when things look bleak. It is a bit of a dark story. Twilight always seems short of supplies. After nearly every battle, the say a brief goodbye to their fallen comrades, then recruit ‘fresh meat’ to fill the holes in their ranks.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 8 hours I spent reading this 418 page novel. It reminded me a great deal of the “Black Company” novels. I hope that there are more novels that will follow Twilight company. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).