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Safe: The Race to Protect Ourselves in a Newly Dangerous Worldby Martha Baer and Katrina Heron and Oliver Morton and Evan Ratliff
Synopses & Reviews
If our society is the most technologically sophisticated on Earth, then why can't we protect ourselves from terrorists and other threats to our safety and security?
This is the question that frustrates—and scares—all of us today, and the answers have proved maddeningly elusive. Until now. Through dramatic, enlightening, and often entertaining narratives, SAFE makes visible—and understandable—the high-stakes work being done by some of the most ingenious problem-solvers across the country and around the world, people committed to creating real and dependable security in the twenty-first century.
The characters in these pages, from scientists and engineers to academics, entrepreneurs, and emergency workers, take us into a fascinating world of inquiry and discovery. Their stories reveal where our greatest vulnerabilities lie and where our best hope deservedly shines through. They show why the systems we rely on to protect ourselves can also be exploited by others to create catastrophe—and what we can do to outsmart the terrorists. We have ample proof that terrorists will go to great lengths to understand how our technologies can be put to destructive use. Now it's time to ask ourselves a question: Are we willing to let them keep beating us at our own game? For the brilliant and colorful innovators in these pages, the answer is no.
Among them are Eric Thompson, an expert digital code breaker instrumental in deciphering hidden Al Qaeda messages; Mike Stein, a New York City firefighter turned technologist who is working to overcome the numerous communications failures of 9/11; Eve Hinman, who conducts structural autopsies at the scene of explosions, including the Oklahoma City bombing, in order to develop more blast-resistant designs; Ken Alibek, the infamous architect of the former Soviet bioweapons program and now an American entrepreneur working in the business of defending his adopted country from bioterrorism; Kris Pister and Michael Sailor, university researchers developing sensors no larger than a speck of dust; Rafi Ron, former head of security for Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and now a leading strategist on U.S. airport security; Tara O'Toole, who stages doomsday bioterror scenarios in order to craft better biodefense systems; and Jeff Jonas, a high-rolling Las Vegas software entrepreneur whose methods for spotting casino cheats might just have uncovered the 9/11 plot.
Readers of SAFE will come away understanding the unique challenges posed by technological progress in a networked, and newly dangerous, world. Witnessing the work of this gathering force of innovators up close, they'll be inspired by the power of the human intellect and spirit—and realize how important the contributions of individual citizens and communities can be.
Book News Annotation:
The authors (contributors to Wired and other periodicals) address the relationship between technology and terrorism through examining the activities of individuals working in a variety of fields to address possible dangers to the United States. They look at individuals involved in breaking Al Qaeda digital encryptions, constructing structural autopsies at the scenes of explosions, conducting research into the possibilities of bioweaponry, developing microsensors for detecting radiation or chemical dangers, and others involved in the technological front of the "War on Terror."
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The authors conduct a thrilling ride with scientists, inventors, and engineers who are working on the front lines of technological possibility to combat terrorism and make a safer, better world.
SAFE takes us on a thrilling ride with the scientists, inventors, and engineers who are working on the frontiers of technological possibility to combat terrorism and make a safer, better world.
SAFE introduces readers to the most fascinating and ingenious problem-solvers of our day - the gathering force of scientists, engineers, technologists, and inventors who have been trying to guard against both visible and invisible threats to our safety . Since 9/11, Americans and our leadership have been on a steep learning curve - trying to understand how new technologies can help protect against catastrophic acts of terrorism. Yet these men and women were hard at it long before most of us were aware that the advances that gave us e-mail, wireless connectivity, and access to the human genome, also paved the way for untraceable terrorist communications, cell phone-activated bombs, bio-terror, and chemical and cyber warfare, just to name a few.
SAFE moves us beyond these increasingly prevalent buzz phrases to reveal a rich, compelling narrative of discovery and breakthrough ideas, and of wonderfully idiosyncratic and inspiring characters whose work has been largely hidden until now. Consider this book The Soul of a New Machine, re-imagined for the challenges of a newly dangerous world.
About the Author
Martha Baer is a former senior producer at Wired Digital and the author of As Francesca, a novel about online anonymity and intrigue.
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