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The Machine Question

Critical Perspectives on AI, Robots, and Ethics

David J. Gunkel

An investigation into the assignment of moral responsibilities and rights to intelligent and autonomous machines of our own making.

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Machine Scoring of Student Essays

Truth and Consequences

edited by Patricia Freitag Ericsson & Rich Haswell

The current trend toward machine-scoring of student work, Ericsson and Haswell argue, has created an emerging issue with implications for higher education across the disciplines, but with particular importance for those in English departments and in administration. The academic community has been silent on the issue—some would say excluded from it—while the commercial entities who develop essay-scoring software have been very active.

Machine Scoring of Student Essays is the first volume to seriously consider the educational mechanisms and consequences of this trend, and it offers important discussions from some of the leading scholars in writing assessment.

Reading and evaluating student writing is a time-consuming process, yet it is a vital part of both student placement and coursework at post-secondary institutions. In recent years, commercial computer-evaluation programs have been developed to score student essays in both of these contexts. Two-year colleges have been especially drawn to these programs, but four-year institutions are moving to them as well, because of the cost-savings they promise. Unfortunately, to a large extent, the programs have been written, and institutions are installing them, without attention to their instructional validity or adequacy.

Since the education software companies are moving so rapidly into what they perceive as a promising new market, a wider discussion of machine-scoring is vital if scholars hope to influence development and/or implementation of the programs being created. What is needed, then, is a critical resource to help teachers and administrators evaluate programs they might be considering, and to more fully envision the instructional consequences of adopting them. And this is the resource that Ericsson and Haswell are providing here.

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A Machine to Make a Future

Biotech Chronicles

Paul Rabinow

A Machine to Make a Future represents a remarkably original look at the present and possible future of biotechnology research in the wake of the mapping of the human genome. The central tenet of Celera Diagnostics--the California biotech company whose formative work during 2003 is the focus of the book--is that the emergent knowledge about the genome, with its profound implications for human health, can now be turned into a powerful diagnostic apparatus--one that will yield breakthrough diagnostic and therapeutic products (and, potentially, profit). Celera's efforts--assuming they succeed--may fundamentally reshape the fabric of how health and health care are understood, practiced, and managed.

Presenting a series of interviews with all of the key players in Celera Diagnostics, Paul Rabinow and Talia Dan-Cohen open a fascinating window on the complexity of corporate scientific innovation. This marks a radical departure from other books on the biotech industry by chronicling the vicissitudes of a project during a finite time period, in the words of the actors themselves.

Ultimately, the authors conclude, Celera Diagnostics is engaged in a future characterized not by geniuses and their celebrated discoveries but by a largely anonymous and widely distributed profusion of data and results--a "machine to make a future."

In their new afterword, Rabinow and Dan-Cohen revisit Celera Diagnostics as its mighty machine grinds along, wondering, along with the scientists, "what constitutes success and what constitutes failure?" The pathos of the situation turns on how one poses the question as much as how one answers it.

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The Machinery of Whiteness: Studies in the Structure of Racialization

In this follow up to his book, The Rule of Racialization—which considered the way class structure is formed in the U.S.—Steve Martinot now examines how the structures of racialization reside at the core of all social, cultural, and political institutions in the U.S. In The Machinery of Whiteness, Martinot examines how race and racism are produced in the United States, analyzing the politics of racialization, and the preponderance of racial segregation and racial deprivation that have kept the U.S. a white dominated society throughout its history. Martinot dedicates this work to expunging white supremacy from the earth.

 

The Machinery of Whiteness investigates how “whiteness” came to be as foundational to the process that then produced the modern concept of race. Martinot addresses the instrumentalization of women as a necessary step in its formation, furthering the debates regarding the relationships of race and gender. And he addresses U.S. international interventionism, the anti-immigrant movements, and white racist populism to describe the political forms that white supremacy takes.

 

Martinot puts these together to analyze the underlying cultural structures of racialization that have driven and conditioned the resurgence of white supremacy and white entitlement in the wake of the Civil Rights movements. This book is a call to transform the cultural structures of the U.S. to make justice and democracy, which depend on inclusion and not segregation, possible.

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Machines in Our Hearts

The Cardiac Pacemaker, the Implantable Defibrillator, and American Health Care

Kirk Jeffrey

Today hundreds of thousands of Americans carry pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) within their bodies. These battery-powered machines—small computers, in fact—deliver electricity to the heart to correct dangerous disorders of the heartbeat. But few doctors, patients, or scholars know the history of these devices or how "heart-rhythm management" evolved into a multi-billion-dollar manufacturing and service industry. Machines in Our Hearts tells the story of these two implantable medical devices. Kirk Jeffrey, a historian of science and technology, traces the development of knowledge about the human heartbeat and follows surgeons, cardiologists, and engineers as they invent and test a variety of electronic devices. Numerous small manufacturing firms jumped into pacemaker production but eventually fell by the wayside, leaving only three American companies in the business today. Jeffrey profiles pioneering heart surgeons, inventors from the realms of engineering and medical research, and business leaders who built heart-rhythm management into an industry with thousands of employees and annual revenues in the hundreds of millions. As Jeffrey shows, the pacemaker (first implanted in 1958) and the ICD (1980) embody a paradox of high-tech health care: these technologies are effective and reliable but add billions to the nation's medical bill because of the huge growth in the number of patients who depend on implanted devices to manage their heartbeats.

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Machinic Eros

Writings on Japan

Félix Guattari

The French philosopher Félix Guattari frequently visited Japan during the 1980s and organized exchanges between French and Japanese artists and intellectuals. His immersion into the “machinic eros” of Japanese culture put him into contact with media theorists such as Tetsuo Kogawa and activists within the mini-FM community (Radio Home Run), documentary filmmakers (Mitsuo Sato), photographers (Keiichi Tahara), novelists (Kobo Abe), internationally recognized architects (Shin Takamatsu), and dancers (Min Tanaka). From pachinko parlors to high-rise highways, alongside corporate suits and among alt-culture comrades, Guattari put himself into the thick of Japanese becomings during a period in which the bubble economy continued to mutate. This collection of essays, interviews, and longer meditations shows a radical thinker exploring the architectural environment of Japan’s “machinic eros.”

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The Maciste Films of Italian Silent Cinema

Jacqueline Reich

Italian film star Bartolomeo Pagano's "Maciste" played a key role in his nation’s narratives of identity during World War I and after. Jacqueline Reich traces the racial, class, and national transformations undergone by this Italian strongman from African slave in Cabiria (1914), his first film, to bourgeois gentleman, to Alpine soldier of the Great War, to colonial officer in Italy's African adventures. Reich reveals Maciste as a figure who both reflected classical ideals of masculine beauty and virility (later taken up by Mussolini and used for political purposes) and embodied the model Italian citizen. The 12 films at the center of the book, recently restored and newly accessible to a wider public, together with relevant extra-cinematic materials, provide a rich resource for understanding the spread of discourses on masculinity, and national and racial identities during a turbulent period in Italian history. The volume includes an illustrated appendix documenting the restoration and preservation of these cinematic treasures.

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Maclure of New Harmony

Scientist, Progressive Educator, Radical Philanthropist

Leonard Warren

Maclure of New Harmony follows the twists and turns of William Maclure's intriguing life. A native Scotsman, Maclure (1763--1840) became a merchant, made a fortune, and retired in his early thirties. Then his life became interesting. Fascinated by the study of geology, Maclure did fieldwork throughout Europe before traveling to the United States, where he completed the first geological survey of his adopted nation and published a detailed, color geological map -- one reason he is known as the Father of American Geology.

Maclure's travels sharpened his convictions about social justice and led him to a life of social radicalism. He founded progressive schools to educate the children of the working classes and, in 1820, he joined forces with Robert Owen to found New Harmony -- the utopian community in Indiana. Ever restless, Maclure later moved to Mexico, where he watched his hopes for the new republic founder.

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Macroanalysis

Digital Methods and Literary History

Matthew L. Jockers

In this volume, Matthew L. Jockers introduces readers to large-scale literary computing and the revolutionary potential of macroanalysis--a new approach to the study of the literary record designed for probing the digital-textual world as it exists today, in digital form and in large quantities. Using computational analysis to retrieve key words, phrases, and linguistic patterns across thousands of texts in digital libraries, researchers can draw conclusions based on quantifiable evidence regarding how literary trends are employed over time, across periods, within regions, or within demographic groups, as well as how cultural, historical, and societal linkages may bind individual authors, texts, and genres into an aggregate literary culture.

Moving beyond the limitations of literary interpretation based on the "close-reading" of individual works, Jockers describes how this new method of studying large collections of digital material can help us to better understand and contextualize the individual works within those collections.

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