New World, New Net

"Yeni Dünya, Yeni Ağ" ("New World, New Net"), the new book by Cem Say, a faculty member in Boğaziçi University's Department of Computer Engineering, tells the story of the new network of information that surrounds our planet, as well as the birth of the science of information and the way it has changed our lives and our understanding of the world.

The book covers a wide range of difficult questions from physics to computer science, biology, economics, cryptography, medicine, and philosophy in simple and enjoyable language.

Say, who told about the centuries-old goal of building a "thinking machine", and what scientists did in this regard since the invention of the computer, in his first popular science book "50 Soruda Yapay Zekâ’" ("AI in 50 Questions") in 2018, focuses on the "Age of Information", its foundations, and what it might bring in the future in this new volume.

"As I am writing this, humanity, faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, has once again turned towards science, 'the truest guide'. I will have reached my goal if this book can make more people love science as I do," says Say. With this aim, the book starts with the story of how humanity solved a puzzle about what matter is made of, leading to the discovery of parallel worlds, and the identification of "information" as a measurable, fundamental quantity. The lives of Alan Turing and Claude Shannon, the "two heroes" who invented the computer, won World War II, and brought about the information revolution, is next. Understanding "understanding" is not possible without viewing humans as information processing entities, and the book compresses the billions of years that it took for atoms to get organized into beings with "souls", who got organized into beings without souls called "states", into a chapter. This is followed by the story of the emergence of a different network, connecting humans to each other in a way that is not quite compatible with the way states work. The organization of the Internet, its amazing riches, and the mathematical ideas (including quantum computation) that are involved in the conflict between a person on the Internet and the "powers that be" are discussed. The network of trade, the nature of money, cryptocurrencies, cancer as "coding error" in the programs running in our cells, the role of AI in medicine, and the dreams of achieving immortality by downloading our minds to computers are some of the other topics that the narrative goes through. The book ends with a look at the future, and an argument for optimism.   

"Yeni Dünya, Yeni Ağ" has been published by Destek Yayınları in May 2020.

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