STEAM WEEK: Technology

In honor of STEAM Week, I’ve put together a series of books on various topics of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Today, we’re focusing on the T: Technology.

In recent years, I’ve been hearing more and more about how computers are becoming smarter, so smart in fact, that they can actually pass for human in certain settings. What a horrible thought, right? In You Look Like a Thing and I Love You, author Janelle Shane addresses the topic of artificial intelligence and how it has been changing in recent years. And from the looks of it, we should be fine (at least for a little while). In case you didn’t know, the title of this book is actually a AI-generated pickup line. Romantic, right? This book is both hilarious and informative, as the reader is treated to the best (and worst) of robotic intelligence.

While technology is meant to bring us together, the truth is that it often makes things more complicated. But, does it really need to be so cold and impersonal? In her memoir, Girl Decoded, Rana el Kaliouby chronicles her career path as a woman of color in a field of study that is predominantly white and male. Her goal is to humanize technology before it dehumanizes us. So much of our communication is through non-verbal cues (facial expressions, body language, etc.), and much of that is lost when we transition to the digital world. How can we bring our emotions and our humanity to something so robotic? El Kaliouby is trying to find out.

The Future is Faster Than You Think takes a look at the incredible speed with which technology is advancing. We are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were just a few decades ago, with newer, faster, and more innovative technology. How will these new advances change the course of medicine, communication, and society itself? What new technologies will we be working with in the future? From transportation to retail, education to health, and food to entertainment, the future is coming, and in fact, it’s already here.

Going somewhere new? Need directions? With today’s technology, you’re Never Lost Again, with GPS and Google Maps to guide you. This fascinating history of the rise of mapping technology starts at the beginning, with Keyhole, a cash-strapped startup that barely survived the bursting tech bubble. Saved in part by the CIA and CNN, and then purchased by Google, this innovative software was the starting point for what we now know as Google Maps and Google Earth. How do you start a journey into the wide expanse of new technology? You start with a good map!

Computers used to be super-expensive, and took up entire rooms. Now, they’re a whole lot cheaper, fit in our pockets, and we call them smartphones. Perhaps nothing quite showcases the advances of technology quite like Home Computers. Take a trip down memory lane with 100 vintage computer systems, including the Commodore 64, TRS-80, Apple Lisa, and Mattel Aquarius. Chock full of pictures, advertisements, and excerpts from instruction manuals, this book is a fun and fascinating history of a technology we often take for granted in our tech-connected world.

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Erin

I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.