Digital Apollo

Human and Machine in Spaceflight

Author: David A. Mindell

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 9780262266680

Category: Technology & Engineering

Page: 376

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How human pilots and automated systems worked together to achieve the ultimate in flight—the lunar landings of NASA's Apollo program. As Apollo 11's Lunar Module descended toward the moon under automatic control, a program alarm in the guidance computer's software nearly caused a mission abort. Neil Armstrong responded by switching off the automatic mode and taking direct control. He stopped monitoring the computer and began flying the spacecraft, relying on skill to land it and earning praise for a triumph of human over machine. In Digital Apollo, engineer-historian David Mindell takes this famous moment as a starting point for an exploration of the relationship between humans and computers in the Apollo program. In each of the six Apollo landings, the astronaut in command seized control from the computer and landed with his hand on the stick. Mindell recounts the story of astronauts' desire to control their spacecraft in parallel with the history of the Apollo Guidance Computer. From the early days of aviation through the birth of spaceflight, test pilots and astronauts sought to be more than “spam in a can” despite the automatic controls, digital computers, and software developed by engineers. Digital Apollo examines the design and execution of each of the six Apollo moon landings, drawing on transcripts and data telemetry from the flights, astronaut interviews, and NASA's extensive archives. Mindell's exploration of how human pilots and automated systems worked together to achieve the ultimate in flight—a lunar landing—traces and reframes the debate over the future of humans and automation in space. The results have implications for any venture in which human roles seem threatened by automated systems, whether it is the work at our desktops or the future of exploration.
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Our Robots, Ourselves

Robotics and the Myths of Autonomy

Author: David A. Mindell

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 0698157664

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 208

View: 3639

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“[An] essential book… it is required reading as we seriously engage one of the most important debates of our time.”—Sherry Turkle, author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age From drones to Mars rovers—an exploration of the most innovative use of robots today and a provocative argument for the crucial role of humans in our increasingly technological future. In Our Robots, Ourselves, David Mindell offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the cutting edge of robotics today, debunking commonly held myths and exploring the rapidly changing relationships between humans and machines. Drawing on firsthand experience, extensive interviews, and the latest research from MIT and elsewhere, Mindell takes us to extreme environments—high atmosphere, deep ocean, and outer space—to reveal where the most advanced robotics already exist. In these environments, scientists use robots to discover new information about ancient civilizations, to map some of the world’s largest geological features, and even to “commute” to Mars to conduct daily experiments. But these tools of air, sea, and space also forecast the dangers, ethical quandaries, and unintended consequences of a future in which robotics and automation suffuse our everyday lives. Mindell argues that the stark lines we’ve drawn between human and not human, manual and automated, aren’t helpful for understanding our relationship with robotics. Brilliantly researched and accessibly written, Our Robots, Ourselves clarifies misconceptions about the autonomous robot, offering instead a hopeful message about what he calls “rich human presence” at the center of the technological landscape we are now creating. From the Hardcover edition.
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Iron Coffin

War, Technology, and Experience aboard the USS Monitor

Author: David A. Mindell

Publisher: JHU Press

ISBN: 1421405202

Category: Science

Page: 208

View: 4580

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The USS Monitor famously battled the CSS Virginia (the armored and refitted USS Merrimack) at Hampton Roads in March 1862. This updated edition of David A. Mindell's classic account of the ironclad warships and the human dimension of modern warfare commemorates the 150th anniversary of this historic encounter. Mindell explores how mariners—fighting "blindly," below the waterline—lived in and coped with the metal monster they called the "iron coffin." He investigates how the ironclad technology, new to war in the nineteenth century, changed not only the tools but also the experience of combat and anticipated today's world of mechanized, pushbutton warfare. The writings of William Frederick Keeler, the ship's paymaster, inform much of this book, as do the experiences of everyman sailor George Geer, who held Keeler in some contempt. Mindell uses their compelling stories, and those of other shipmates, to recreate the thrills and dangers of living and fighting aboard this superweapon. Recently, pieces of the Monitor wreck have been raised from their watery grave, and with them, information about the ship continues to be discovered. A new epilogue describes the recovery of the Monitor turret and its display at the USS Monitor Museum in Newport News, Virginia. This sensitive and enthralling history of the USS Monitor ensures that this fateful ship, and the men who served on it, will be remembered for generations to come.
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The Glass Cage: How Our Computers Are Changing Us

Author: Nicholas Carr

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 0393246353

Category: Science

Page: 288

View: 4527

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At once a celebration of technology and a warning about its misuse, The Glass Cage will change the way you think about the tools you use every day. In The Glass Cage, best-selling author Nicholas Carr digs behind the headlines about factory robots and self-driving cars, wearable computers and digitized medicine, as he explores the hidden costs of granting software dominion over our work and our leisure. Even as they bring ease to our lives, these programs are stealing something essential from us. Drawing on psychological and neurological studies that underscore how tightly people’s happiness and satisfaction are tied to performing hard work in the real world, Carr reveals something we already suspect: shifting our attention to computer screens can leave us disengaged and discontented. From nineteenth-century textile mills to the cockpits of modern jets, from the frozen hunting grounds of Inuit tribes to the sterile landscapes of GPS maps, The Glass Cage explores the impact of automation from a deeply human perspective, examining the personal as well as the economic consequences of our growing dependence on computers. With a characteristic blend of history and philosophy, poetry and science, Carr takes us on a journey from the work and early theory of Adam Smith and Alfred North Whitehead to the latest research into human attention, memory, and happiness, culminating in a moving meditation on how we can use technology to expand the human experience.
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NASA Spaceflight

A History of Innovation

Author: Roger D. Launius,Howard E. McCurdy

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 331960113X

Category: Science

Page: 402

View: 8510

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This book presents the first comprehensive history of innovation at NASA, bringing together experts in the field to illuminate how public-private and international partnerships have fueled new ways of exploring space since the beginning of space travel itself. Twelve case studies trace the messy, risky history of such partnerships, exploring the role of AT&T in the early development of satellite technology, the connections between the Apollo program and Silicon Valley, the rise of SpaceX, and more. Some of these projects have succeeded, and some have failed; all have challenged conventional methods of doing the public’s business in space. Together, these essays offer new insights into how innovation happens, with invaluable lessons for policymakers, investors, economists, and members of the space community.
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The Glass Cage

Where Automation is Taking Us

Author: Nicholas Carr

Publisher: Random House

ISBN: 1473511089

Category: Technology & Engineering

Page: 288

View: 3997

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In The Glass Cage, Pulitzer Prize nominee and bestselling author Nicholas Carr shows how the most important decisions of our lives are now being made by machines and the radical effect this is having on our ability to learn and solve problems. In May 2009 an Airbus A330 passenger jet equipped with the latest ‘glass cockpit’ controls plummeted 30,000 feet into the Atlantic. The reason for the crash: the autopilot had routinely switched itself off. In fact, automation is everywhere – from the thermostat in our homes and the GPS in our phones to the algorithms of High Frequency Trading and self-driving cars. We now use it to diagnose patients, educate children, evaluate criminal evidence and fight wars. But psychological studies show that we perform best when fully involved in a task, while the principle of automation – that humans are inefficient – is self-fulfilling. The glass cockpit is becoming a glass cage. In this utterly engrossing exposé, bestselling writer Nicholas Carr reveals how automation is affecting our ability to solve problems, forge memories and acquire skills. Rather than rejecting technology, Carr argues that we must urgently rethink its role in our lives, using it to enhance rather than diminish the extraordinary abilities that make us human.
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Inventing the American Astronaut

Author: Matthew H. Hersch

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 1137025298

Category: Science

Page: 219

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Who were the men who led America's first expeditions into space? Soldiers? Daredevils? The public sometimes imagined them that way: heroic military men and hot-shot pilots without the capacity for doubt, fear, or worry. However, early astronauts were hard-working and determined professionals - 'organization men' - who were calm, calculating, and highly attuned to the politics and celebrity of the Space Race. Many would have been at home in corporate America - and until the first rockets carried humans into space, some seemed to be headed there. Instead, they strapped themselves to missiles and blasted skyward, returning with a smile and an inspiring word for the press. From the early days of Project Mercury to the last moon landing, this lively history demystifies the American astronaut while revealing the warring personalities, raw ambition, and complex motives of the men who were the public face of the space program.
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The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Contemporary World

Author: Paul Graves-Brown,Rodney Harrison,Angela Piccini

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191663956

Category: Social Science

Page: 864

View: 1814

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It has been clear for many years that the ways in which archaeology is practised have been a direct product of a particular set of social, cultural, and historical circumstances - archaeology is always carried out in the present. More recently, however, many have begun to consider how archaeological techniques might be used to reflect more directly on the contemporary world itself: how we might undertake archaeologies of, as well as in the present. This Handbook is the first comprehensive survey of an exciting and rapidly expanding sub-field and provides an authoritative overview of the newly emerging focus on the archaeology of the present and recent past. In addition to detailed archaeological case studies, it includes essays by scholars working on the relationships of different disciplines to the archaeology of the contemporary world, including anthropology, psychology, philosophy, historical geography, science and technology studies, communications and media, ethnoarchaeology, forensic archaeology, sociology, film, performance, and contemporary art. This volume seeks to explore the boundaries of an emerging sub-discipline, to develop a tool-kit of concepts and methods which are applicable to this new field, and to suggest important future trajectories for research. It makes a significant intervention by drawing together scholars working on a broad range of themes, approaches, methods, and case studies from diverse contexts in different parts of the world, which have not previously been considered collectively.
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Space Travel and Culture

From Apollo to Space Tourism

Author: David Bell,Martin Parker

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

ISBN: 9781405193320

Category: Social Science

Page: 232

View: 8977

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Explores the significance of the first Apollo moon landing and how the countless books, films, and products associated with factual space fiction had an affect on popular culture and artistic practice, but not social sciences and humanities Investigates how a topic is hugely important in popular culture, but almost invisible in the academy, and how it makes us want to ask questions about visibility, or perhaps self-censorship Evaluates how little impact the space age actually had on the social sciences and humanities - partly because its combination of military-industrial cold war politics, combined with patriarchy and big science, sits uneasily with contemporary thought in these areas Provides an interdisciplinary collection of essays on various aspects of NASA, the moon landing, and the commercialization of space generally The book travels from hard engineering to space romance, echoing the variety of attempts to blur science and culture
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