MixedThe Washington PostThis might read like the buzzkill PowerPoint of some progressive transportation think tank analyst. But Burns was, for many years, a vice president at General Motors ... The story he sets out to tell in Autonomy, aided by the writer Christopher Shulgan, is one of increasing disenchantment with the status quo in Detroit ... This is not exactly the realm of The Right Stuff. Here we have slow-moving cars bumbling through parking lots and patiently navigating four-way intersections. But you can sense the excitement in Burns, an engineer at heart ... The book is a passionately argued, you-were-there account of the birth and rise of the autonomous vehicle from an authoritative Detroit voice. Burns, a technological utopianist (and one of the first people to get a cochlear ear implant), makes a number of compelling arguments for why smaller, self-piloted, shared vehicles make sense. But we don’t hear much about that other great engine of the car business: consumer desire. Do people want to be driven? ... A larger question, not much discussed in Autonomy, is how much risk we are willing to accept to have autonomous vehicles. What role should ethics have in the programming: Do we prize safety over speed and efficiency? And who should be the ultimate arbiters of those decisions?
PositiveThe New Republic...[a] startling and sweeping examination ... Wu’s succinct reexamination [of American advertising] is important, for he shows how the nascent attempt at capturing attention was marked by a set of events that would be repeated in decades to come, each time drawing closer to the privacy of our inner lives ... One question that Wu, in The Attention Merchants, never really resolves is what exactly constitutes a meaningful use of one’s attention.
PositiveThe New RepublicPetroski argues with passion and conviction for the restoration of our infrastructure—and the restoration of its centrality to public life. At times, however, Petroski seems to suffer from some of the tunnel vision of transportation engineers themselves: He is quite good at solving the problems he is asked to solve, but not often as good at seeing past the parameters of the solution.