320 pages, 7 b/w illustrations
There's a hidden science that affects every part of your life. You are fluent in its terminology of email, WiFi, social networking, and encryption. You use its results when you make a telephone call, access the Internet, use any factory-produced product, or travel in any modern car. The discipline is so new that some prefer to call it a branch of engineering or mathematics. But it is so powerful and world-changing that you would be hard-pressed to find a single human being on the planet unaffected by its achievements. The science of computers enables the supply and creation of power, food, water, medicine, transport, money, communication, entertainment, and most goods in shops. It has transformed societies with the Internet, the digitization of information, mobile phone networks and GPS technologies. Here, Peter J. Bentley explores how this young discipline grew from its theoretical conception by pioneers such as Turing, through its growth spurts in the Internet, its difficult adolescent stage where the promises of AI were never achieved and dot-com bubble burst, to its current stage as a (semi)mature field, now capable of remarkable achievements. Charting the successes and failures of computer science through the years, Bentley discusses what innovations may change our world in the future.
"A richly interesting survey of computer science"
- Steven Poole, The Guardian
1. Can you compute?
2. Disposable computing
3. Your life in binary digits
4. Monkeys with world-spanning voices
5. My computer made me cry
6. Building bionic brains
7. A computer saved my life
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Dr. Peter J. Bentley has been called a creative maverick computer scientist. He is an Honorary Reader at the Department of Computer Science, University College London (UCL), Collaborating Professor at the Korean Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST), a contributing editor for WIRED UK, a consultant and a freelance writer. He has published approximately 200 scientific papers and is author of seven other books, including the popular science books Digital Biology, The Book of Numbers and The Undercover Scientist. He is a regular contributor to television and radio.