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Chris J. Karr

Joined 2 months ago

Someone who is failing their 2023 Reading Challenge and looking forward to getting caught up.

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Chris J. Karr's books

Currently Reading (View all 12)

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2023 Reading Goal

17% complete! Chris J. Karr has read 17 of 100 books.

Acts of the Apostles (Paperback, 1999, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform) 4 stars

It's pretty amazing how much new stuff emerges out of the book almost a quarter decade later and a me spending a stint in graduate school studying history of computing. (Vannevar Engleton!)

It's also a VERY interesting look at a pre-9/11 world where protagonists fly around the world like taking a cab. Interestingly enough, it does anticipate the surveillance state / capitalism, which we see more of in the companion book "The Pains".

Cheap Complex Devices (Paperback, 2002, Rosalita Associates) 4 stars

Madly Prophetic

4 stars

In between larger books on my reading list, I slipped in a second reading of this book. It had been long enough that I had forgotten most of it, but still retained fond memories of having read it.

This collection, from an AI competition to try and pass the Turing Test through storytelling two decades ago, has some newfound relevance in the age of generative AI, and its encroachment on the most basic of human activities, spinning a yarn. I don't want to spoil too much of the experience for new readers, but this is definitely worth a read if you've ever looked at the output from ChatGPT (or its numerous clones and me-toos) and wondered why the algorithm made THAT choice.

Looking forward to revisiting the rest of "Mind over Matter" sequence that was so generous to drop on us, two decades ahead of schedule.

Escaping Gravity (2022, Diversion Publishing Corp.) 4 stars

Escaping Gravity is former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver's firsthand account of how a handful …

Solid history

4 stars

After reading Ashlee Vance's "When the Heavens Went on Sale", I expected this to be more of a book about the same companies and same New Space developments, but from the government angle.

Instead, I got a much longer history of Garver's involvement in space policy stretching beyond the Challenger disaster. To the extent New Space is a theme in this book, it's mainly focused on SpaceX, with Blue Origin following a close second. (The hero of Vance's book, Gen. Pete Worden is mentioned ONCE.)

And you know what? That's fine. SpaceX has been the big driver in changing American space policy, and Garver's account really highlights what an uphill battle that was within NASA. Much of the book describes her bucking the prevailing attitudes at NASA (though she is quick to justify that as an allegiance to the President over the NASA administrator), and succeeding in some cases, and …

When the Heavens Went on Sale (2023, HarperCollins Publishers) 5 stars