- Chang'an 26 BCE: An Augustan Age in China
During the last two centuries BCE, the Western Han capital of Chang'an, near today's Xi'an in northwest China, outshone Augustan Rome in several ways while administering comparable numbers of imperial subjects and equally vast territories. At its grandest, during the last fifty years or so before the collapse of the dynasty in 9 CE, Chang'an boasted imperial libraries with thousands of documents on bamboo and silk in a city nearly three times the size of Rome and nearly four times larger than Alexandria. Many reforms instituted in this capital in ate Western Han substantially shaped not only the institutions of the Eastern Han (25-220 CE) but also the rest of imperial China until 1911.
Although thousands of studies document imperial Rome's glory, until now no book-length work in a Western language has been devoted to Han Chang'an, the reign of Emperor Chengdi (whose accomplishments rival those of Augustus and Hadrian), or the city's impressive library project (26-6 BCE), which ultimately produced the first state-sponsored versions of many of the classics and masterworks that we hold in our hands today. Chang'an 26 BCE addresses this deficiency, using as a focal point the reign of Emperor Chengdi (r. 33-7 bce), specifically the year in which the imperial library project began. This in-depth survey by some of the world's best scholars, Chinese and Western, explores the built environment, sociopolitical transformations, and leading figures of Chang'an, making a strong case for the revision of historical assumptions about the two Han dynasties. A multidisciplinary volume representing a wealth of scholarly perspectives, the book draws on the established historical record and recent archaeological discoveries of thousands of tombs, building foundations, and remnants of walls and gates from Chang'an and its surrounding area.
- Information Ethics: Privacy, Property, and Power
This anthology focuses on the ethical issues surrounding information control in the broadest sense. Anglo-American institutions of intellectual property protect and restrict access to vast amounts of information. Ideas and expressions captured in music, movies, paintings, processes of manufacture, human genetic information, and the like are protected domestically and globally.
The ethical issues and tensions surrounding free speech and information control intersect in at least two important respects. First, the commons of thought and expression is threatened by institutions of copyright, patent, and trade secret. While institutions of intellectual property may be necessary for innovation and social progress they may also be detrimental when used by the privileged and economically advantaged to control information access, consumption, and expression. Second, free speech concerns have been allowed to trump privacy interests in all but the most egregious of cases.
At the same time, our ability to control access to information about ourselves--what some call "informational privacy"--is rapidly diminishing. Data mining and digital profiling are opening up what most would consider private domains for public consumption and manipulation.
Post-9/11, issues of national security have run headlong into individual rights to privacy and free speech concerns. While constitutional guarantees against unwarranted searches and seizures have been relaxed, access to vast amounts of information held by government agencies, libraries, and other information storehouses has been restricted in the name of national security.
- Scientific Uncertainty And the Politics of Whaling
In this intriguing study, Michael Heazle examines how International Whaling Commission (IWC) policy dramatically shifted from furthering the interests of whaling nations to eventually banning all commercial whaling. Focusing on the internal workings of a single organization, Heazle explores the impact of political and economic imperatives on the production and interpretation of scientific research and advice.
Central to his work are the epistemological problems encountered in the production of "truth." Science does not produce incontestable facts that can be expected to lead to consensus decisions; rather, the problematic nature of knowledge itself allows for various interpretations of data depending on the interests of those at the table. It is precisely the nature of scientific knowledge, Heazle argues, that has made uncertainty a tool in service of political objectives. When scientific advice to whaling nations could not with absolute certainty declare whaling practices a threat to stocks, those IWC members with substantial investments of political and economic capital used this uncertainty to reject a reduction in quotas. As perceptions of whaling changed - with the collapse of Antarctic whaling stocks, further diminishing economic returns, and public opinion turning against commercial whaling -- uncertainty switched sides. Nonwhaling members in the IWC, a majority by the late 1970s, claimed that because scientific data could not prove that commercial whaling was sustainable, hunting should stop. Uncertainty was used to protect the resource rather than the industry.
That science cannot be an impartial determinant in policy-making decisions does not render it useless. But Heazle's analysis does suggest that without understanding the role of scientific uncertainty - and the political purposes for which it is used - international cooperation on wildlife management and broader issues will continue to become bogged down in arguments over whose science is correct.
- Affect and Artificial Intelligence
In 1950, Alan Turing, the British mathematician, cryptographer, and computer pioneer, looked to the future: now that the conceptual and technical parameters for electronic brains had been established, what kind of intelligence could be built? Should machine intelligence mimic the abstract thinking of a chess player or should it be more like the developing mind of a child? Should an intelligent agent only think, or should it also learn, feel, and grow?
Affect and Artificial Intelligence is the first in-depth analysis of affect and intersubjectivity in the computational sciences. Elizabeth Wilson makes use of archival and unpublished material from the early years of AI (1945-70) until the present to show that early researchers were more engaged with questions of emotion than many commentators have assumed. She documents how affectivity was managed in the canonical works of Walter Pitts in the 1940s and Turing in the 1950s, in projects from the 1960s that injected artificial agents into psychotherapeutic encounters, in chess-playing machines from the 1940s to the present, and in the Kismet (sociable robotics) project at MIT in the 1990s.
- Every Woman Is a World: Interviews With Women of Chiapas
Born in the remote mountains and tropical forests of southern Mexico, the elder women of Chiapas have witnessed tumultuous change during their lifetimes, which in some cases spanned the entire twentieth century. Through hard experience, these women have gained unique perspectives on the transformations that modernity has brought to their traditional way of life. Reflecting on this rich store of wisdom, artists Gayle Walker and Kiki Suarez began interviewing and photographing Chiapanec women between the ages of 60 and 108. In this book, they present the life stories of twenty-eight women, who speak for the silent members of a divided society - well-to-do, urban ladinas of European descent; mixed race, low-income mestizas; and indigenous Maya from the highlands and Lacandon rainforest.As the women tell their stories, they shed light on major historical events as well as the personal dramas of daily life. For some, the Mexican Revolution and the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic are still painfully vivid. Others focus on recent social upheavals, such as the 1994 Zapatista Uprising. Women whose families had more resources fondly recall their high school days, while poorer women tell tragic stories of deprivation, hunger, and family violence. Particularly thought-provoking are the women's attitudes toward marriage, work, religion, and their own mortality. Considering the limited opportunities these women faced, Walker and Suarez sum up the significant theme of these interviews by observing that the women of Chiapas "remind us that if we are flexible, creative, and courageous, we have many more possibilities than we think we have."