Nicholas Agar: How to Be Human in the Digital Economy @ MIT Press Bookstore
Apr 12 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Please join the MIT Press Bookstore in welcoming philosopher Nicholas Agar to discuss his book, How to Be Human in the Digital Economy.

In the digital economy, accountants, baristas, and cashiers can be automated out of employment; so can surgeons, airline pilots, and cab drivers. Machines will be able to do these jobs more efficiently, accurately, and inexpensively. But, Nicholas Agar warns in this provocative book, these developments could result in a radically disempowered humanity.

Agar explains that developments in artificial intelligence enable computers to take over not just routine tasks but also the kind of “mind work” that previously relied on human intellect, and that this threatens human agency. The solution, Agar argues, is a hybrid social-digital economy. The key value of the digital economy is efficiency. The key value of the social economy is humanness.


Nicholas Agar is Professor of Ethics at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He is the author of Humanity’s End: Why We Should Reject Radical Enhancement and Truly Human Enhancement: A Philosophical Defense of Limits, both published by the MIT Press.

Matthew Wisnioski: Does America Need More Innovators? @ MIT Press Bookstore
Apr 16 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Please join the MIT Press Bookstore in welcoming historian Matthew Wisnioski to discuss his book, Does America Need More Innovators?

Does America Need More Innovators?–co-edited with Eric S. Hintz and Marie Stettler Kleine–is a critical exploration of today’s global imperative to innovate, by champions, critics, and reformers of innovation.

Corporate executives, politicians, and school board leaders agree—Americans must innovate. But critics have begun to question the unceasing promotion of innovation, pointing out its gadget-centric shallowness, the lack of diversity among innovators, and the unequal distribution of innovation’s burdens and rewards. This book offers an overdue critical exploration of today’s global imperative to innovate by bringing together innovation’s champions, critics, and reformers in conversation.


Matthew Wisnioski is Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society  at Virginia Tech and the author of Engineers for Change: Competing Visions of Technology in 1960s America (MIT Press). Dr. Wisnioski studies the interplay between expertise and imagination in science, technology, and innovation.

JPat Brown, B.C.D. Lipton, and Michael Morisy: Scientists Under Surveillance @ MIT Press Bookstore
Apr 18 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

MIT Press Bookstore and Cambridge Science Festival welcome editors JPat Brown, B.C.D. Lipton, and Michael Morisy for a discussion of their book, Scientists Under Surveillance: The FBI Files.

When the Cold War was at its hottest, the FBI cast a suspicious eye on scientists working in a wide range of disciplines. Scientists Under Surveillance gathers FBI files on some of the most famous scientists in America–including Neil Armstrong, Albert Einstein, Vera Rubin, and Richard Feynman–and reproduces them in their original typewritten, teletyped, hand-annotated form.



JPat Brown is Executive Editor of MuckRock.

B. C. D. Lipton is Senior Reporter at MuckRock.

Michael Morisy is cofounder of MuckRock.

For more information about the Cambridge Science Festival, visit

James and Deborah Fallows: Journey Into the Heart of America @ MIT Wong Auditorium (Building E51)
Apr 22 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

James and Deborah Fallows traveled to dozens of towns and small cities across America – places like Duluth, MN and Demopolis, AL – and from their interviews and experiences crafted their best-selling book “Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America.” In a conversation with Barbara Dyer, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan and Executive Director of the Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative at MIT Sloan, the Fallowses will discuss what they’ve learned about the surprising reinvention going on in many American communities. The discussion will be followed by questions from the audience. After the event, there will be a book signing in the Ting Foyer outside the auditorium.


JAMES FALLOWS has been a national correspondent for The Atlantic for more than thirty-five years, reporting from China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe, and across the United States. He is the author of eleven previous books. His work has also appeared in many other magazines and as public-radio commentaries since the 1980s. He has won a National Book Award and a National Magazine Award.
DEBORAH FALLOWS is a linguist and writer who holds a PhD in theoretical linguistics and is the author of two previous books. She has written for The Atlantic, National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times, and The Washington Monthly, and has worked at the Pew Research Center, Oxygen Media, and Georgetown University.

Joseph M. Reagle, Jr.: Hacking Life @ MIT Press Bookstore
Apr 24 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Please join MIT Press Bookstore in welcoming Prof. Joseph M. Reagle, Jr., for a discussion of his upcoming book, Hacking Life: Systematized Living and Its Discontents.

Life hackers track and analyze the food they eat, the hours they sleep, the money they spend, and how they’re feeling on any given day. They see everything as a system composed of parts that can be decomposed and recomposed, with algorithmic rules that can be understood, optimized, and subverted. In Hacking Life, Joseph Reagle examines these attempts to systematize living and finds that they are the latest in a long series of self-improvement methods. Life hacking, he writes, is self-help for the digital age’s creative class.

Joseph M. Reagle, Jr., is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University. He is the author of Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia and Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters, and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web, both published by the MIT Press.

Ben Green: The Smart Enough City @ MIT Press Bookstore
May 2 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Please join the MIT Press Bookstore in welcoming Ben Green to discuss his upcoming book, The Smart Enough City: Putting Technology in Its Place to Reclaim Our Urban Future.

Smart cities, where technology is used to solve every problem, are hailed as futuristic urban utopias. In The Smart Enough City, Ben Green warns against seeing the city only through the lens of technology.  He proposes instead that cities strive to be “smart enough”: to embrace technology as a powerful tool when used in conjunction with other forms of social change—but not to value technology as an end in itself.



Ben Green is an Affiliate and former Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and a PhD candidate in Applied Mathematics at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. From 2016 to 2017 he was a Data Scientist in the City of Boston’s Department of Innovation and Technology.