Books

I write about technology and its impact on our daily lives and economy.  I’ve written three books and several articles about driverless cars and artificial intelligence, 3D printing, entrepreneurship, and commercializing university R&D.

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SEPTEMBER 2, 2016. Driverless: Intelligent cars and the road ahead, MIT Press. Synopsis: It’s time to let robots take the wheel. Literally. Self-driving cars and trucks will save lives, end traffic jams and do away with the need for unsightly city parking lots. Driverless cars will disrupt and revitalize familiar industries. Yet, like all powerful new platform technologies, driverless cars will erase millions of decent jobs, raise new legal questions and give criminals and terrorists a new playing field.  In clear, non-technical language that will appeal to a broad audience, Driverless tells the story of what the world will look like when cars and trucks drive themselves.

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Fabricated: the new world of 3D printing introduces readers to 3D printing in engaging, jargon-free prose.  Fabricated has sold more than 200,000 copies worldwide; Fabricated tells the story of 3D printers, humble manufacturing machines that are bursting out of the factory and into homes, businesses, schools, kitchens, hospitals, even the fashion catwalk. The magic happens when you plug a 3D printer into today’s mind-boggling digital technologies. Add to that the Internet, tiny, low cost electronic circuitry, radical advances in materials science and biotech and voila! The result is an explosion of technological and social innovation.

Fabricated provides readers with practical and imaginative insights to the question “how will 3D printing technologies change my life?” Based on hundreds of hours of research and dozens of interviews with experts from a broad range of industries, Fabricated offers readers an informative, engaging and fast-paced introduction to 3D printing now and in the future.

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Tech Transfer 2.0: How universities can unlock their patent portfolios and create more tech startups. Interested in the R&D corporation that is the modern research university?  This book is a collection of essays about how universities attempt to transform billions of dollars of tax-payer funded research into a lucrative patent portfolio, a process that goes by the official name of “university technology transfer.”  This book is a useful read for policy makers, graduate students, professors and people in industry considering sponsoring a research partnership with a university.  

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Factory@Home: the Emerging Economy of Personal ManufacturingLike personal computers, personal-scale manufacturing machines are giving small businesses and entrepreneurial individuals a taste of the design and manufacturing power once reserved for big corporations.  This report, commissioned by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), is a good introduction to the new world of personal manufacturing. 

See below for more detailed information about each book.  Contact me at melbak at triplehelixinnovation.com. Follow me on twitter at @melbakurman.  Download my resume here.

Fabricated: the new world of 3D printing

9781118350638 cover.inddFabricated: the new world of 3D printing tells the story of 3D printing in engaging, jargon-free prose.

Reviews say…

  • “Lucid and understandable to the layman […] not one of those popular books by a self-styled “expert” rushed to press to become a quick bestseller – [a] serious and fascinating volume that points the way to the future.” –Jerusalem Post, April 13 , 2014
  • “What makes Fabricated different is that it seeks to explore the implications of this work, not just cheerlead for it. Lipson and Kurman survey the field, travelling to England to interview the creator of the open-source RepRap and to Utah to investigate work on CAD for the human body.” — ZDNet UK Book Reviews
  • “This book is a must-read for those in manufacturing and for those that want to know what the technology trend of the future will be.”   — Hub Pages: Books, Literature, and Writing
  • The authors … have done their homework… the book is an easy, interesting read that serves as both primer and, perhaps, prognostication.   — ScienceNews Bookshelf
  • “This book was a pleasure to read. It’s informative on several levels, but also ignites the imagination.”  — Mind Connection
  • “READ THIS if you’re a trend analyst, futurist, engineer, investor, designer, inventor, artist, company CTO or CEO, small entrepreneur planning new products, or just a smart science type who loves to see what 2060 might look like! … Astonishing, and a page turner even with all the legal and technical details and speculation.”    — Library Picks
  • “Fabricated” is an excellent book to give to a friend, family member or co-worker who has heard of 3D printing, but may not know many details of how it works or what it can do. But it’s also an interesting read for people who keep up to date on technology.  — Dave Peterson, Geekbeat TV 

Fabricated chapters and contents

Chapter 1: Everything is becoming science fiction. What would “just another regular day” look like in a future, 3D printable world?

Chapter 2: A machine that can make almost anything. Information morphed from analog form to digital. Will physical objects be next? Ten key principles explain 3D printing’s disruptive power.

Chapter 3: Nimble manufacturing. Emerging business models lie somewhere between mass production and the local farmer’s market. Small-batch manufacturing is becoming profitable, freeing entrepreneurs from the tyranny imposed by economies of scale.

Chapter 4: Tomorrow’s economy of printable products. 3D printing, low-cost design and manufacturing technologies create new market opportunities as consumers increasingly crave on-demand, custom “experience” products.

Chapter 5: Printing in layers. For those of a technological bent, a deep dive into the inner workings of the 3D printing process.

Chapter 6: Design software, the digital canvas. Without an attached computer, a 3D printer is just an elaborate paperweight. An overview of design software and “digital capture.”

Chapter 7: Bioprinting in “living ink.” Design software and 3D printers read medical scans to fabricate living tissue and custom artificial joints. How long before all of us can tap into this Fountain of Youth?

Chapter 8: Digital cuisine. Today you can 3D print “high resolution” and delicious shortbread, chocolate figurines and tortillas. In the future, Quantified Selfers and couch potatoes alike will balance their diets by streaming biometrics to a food printer.

Chapter 9: A factory in the classroom. Primary and middle school teachers teach “children’s engineering” using vivid, hands-on lesson plans.

Chapter 10: Unleashing a new aesthetic. 3D printers are the output device computer-savvy artists, designers and architects have been waiting for.

Chapter 11: Green, clean manufacturing. What’s cleaner to make? A 3D printed plastic toy or a mass-produced plastic toy? 3D printers may introduce greener living… or help us drown in a rising tidal wave of plastic junk.

Chapter 12: Ownership, safety and legal frontiers. Technology evolves faster than the law. Consumer safety and intellectual property laws will stretch to deal with printed weapons, counterfeit products and unregulated custom-made products.

Chapter 13: Designing the future. Why was Star Trek’s Replicator used only to make Earl Grey tea? Because once we shape our tools, then our tools shape us. Next-generation design software will unshackle our imaginations, giving us new ways to imagine and edit the physical world.

Chapter 14: The next episode of 3D printing. What lies ahead? Watercolor artists create infinite hues by blending primary colors. Regular people will design and blend standard materials — or micro-scale electronic components — and “print” them out in fine, meticulously patterned sprays. The result? Weird and wacky new materials. Robots that walk out of the 3D printer. Ready-made, responsive smart materials.

Tech Transfer 2.0:  How universities can unlock their patent portfolios and create more tech startups

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This book is a collection of essays about how universities attempt to transform billions of dollars of tax-payer funded research into a lucrative patent portfolio, a process that goes by the official name of “university technology transfer.”  I spent four years working inside a technology transfer office of a large U.S. research university.  It became clear to me that although all of us touch, use and benefit from university research on a daily basis, few people are aware of how exactly, what happens to the university research all of us pay for with our tax dollars.

If you’re asking what a technology transfer office is, it’s an administrative unit whose charter is to manage the university’s patent portfolio and other intellectual property that was created in university research labs.  The ecosystem that produces university research affects all of us.  If you’ve had ever received a CT scan, drunk Gatorade, had your dog vaccinated for kennel cough or used fluoridated toothpaste, you’ve experienced the direct benefits of university research. University research is why we are able to search Google or swallow Allegra to ease an attack of allergies before playing a nice game of golf on lush, green Bermuda Grass.

How does a university research project eventually morph into a patent, and from there, into a useful product, a new plant line, a new drug or a vaccine?   In this book I share my learnings and aim to offer non-experts a taste of the world that lurks inside nearly every major U.S. (and some Canadian and European) research university.   This book is a useful read for policy makers, graduate students, professors and people in industry considering sponsoring a research partnership with a university.

You can purchase a paper copy of Tech Transfer 2.0: how universities can unlock their patent portfolios and create more startups on  amazon.  Or if you’d like to download a free pdf version, click here.

Factory@home: personal-scale manufacturing

Factoryathome-thmb Like personal computers, personal-scale manufacturing machines are giving small businesses and entrepreneurial individuals a taste of the design and manufacturing power once reserved for big corporations.  This 150-page report, commissioned by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), is a good introduction to the new world of personal manufacturing.  Download the pdf here at Factory@Home: the Emerging Economy of Personal Manufacturing