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Caleb Scharf: “The Ascent of Information”

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore will welcome award-winning author Caleb Scharf as he presents his new book, “The Ascent of Information: Books, Bits, Genes, Machines, and Life’s Unending Algorithm.” Scharf is the award-winning author of “The Zoomable Universe,” “The Copernicus Complex” and “Gravity’s Engines,” and the director of the Columbia Astrobiology Center. He will be in conversation with Jill Tarter, the co-founder and chair emeritus for SETI Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. This event is free and open to the public, with registration. Book sales are encouraged through the Midtown Scholar Bookstore.

About the Book: Your information has a life of its own, and it’s using you to get what it wants. One of the most peculiar and possibly unique features of humans is the vast amount of information we carry outside our biological selves. But in our rush to build the infrastructure for the 20 quintillion bits we create every day, we’ve failed to ask exactly why we’re expending ever-increasing amounts of energy, resources, and human effort to maintain all this data. Drawing on deep ideas and frontier thinking in evolutionary biology, computer science, information theory, and astrobiology, Caleb Scharf argues that information is, in a very real sense, alive. All the data we create—all of our emails, tweets, selfies, A.I.-generated text and funny cat videos—amounts to an aggregate lifeform. It has goals and needs. It can control our behavior and influence our well-being. And it’s an organism that has evolved right alongside us.