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Darwin Among The Machines: The Evolution Of…

Darwin Among The Machines: The Evolution Of Global Intelligence

by George B. Dyson

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Dyson is a master storyteller weaving a beautiful and romantic story rendered as a mesh of evolution, computation, communication, artificial life, and artifical intelligence. The book is a page-turner, coming alive through the voices of the great names such as Hobbes, Leibniz, Hilbert, Gödel, Turing, von Neumann, Baran and many other pioneers who have dedicated lives to pursue dreams of enhanced automation of computation, communication and intelligence. Even though it feels somewhow eclectic, making far-fetched jumps between various topics at hand, Dyson manages to argue for a collective and global intelligence to come. A modern-day computing expert will probably find some of his sentences naïve, or maybe overambitious, at best, but this nevertheless does not decrease the beauty of the book, after all it '... makes no claim to have separated the fables from the facts. Both mythology and science have a voice in explaining how human beings and technology arrived at the juncture that governs our lives today.'

The nature of machines and intelligence is a debate that continues to this day and it is yet to be solved definitely. This short book captures some of the critical turning points that shaped this debeate so far and presents them to the reader in a lively manner. I recommend it people curious about how current Internet and computing technology came to be, as well as to the students of mathematics, physics, egineering and computer science. ( )
  EmreSevinc | Jan 7, 2013 |
What do Thomas Hobbes, Erasmus Darwin, Samuel Butler, Alan Turing, Olaf Stapledon, and the RAND Corporation have in common? George B. Dyson explains what they have in common and more in his sometimes uneven but always fascinating book about "evolution of global intelligence" Darwin among the Machines. Dyson relates the story behind the growth of our global digital world through the individual stories of the above thinkers and more. They were all visionaries who saw beyond the everyday into the future and whose ideas led to the development of artificial intelligence and related fields that continue to undergo development in our new century. Dyson is good at relating these stories while weaving them into an evolutionary web that captures the changes that have occurred in the areas of digital computing and telecommunications, and the mechanics of the mind and artificial intelligence over the past century. The story that evolves from all his telling is both exciting and filled with possibilities for the future that border on science fiction. But in retrospect we see that science fiction has a way of becoming science fact. Readers who appreciate and want to learn more about the relationship of technology, humanity and nature will enjoy this book. ( )
  jwhenderson | Aug 22, 2011 |
This is a great book -- i know of no other book that makes this particular argument as elegantly and thoroughly. this book will give you a historical background, and a different way of seeing history. ( )
  humdog | Feb 17, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0738200301, Paperback)

Here's a mesmerizing account of the evolution of machines and thoughts about machines, woven into a story about the evolution of intelligence. Darwin Among the Machines is not so much about how today's intelligence came to be, but about how it may further develop as humanity and computer grow closer together. George Dyson tells the story largely through stories--both historical and legendary--from the lives of scientists and philosophers who paved the way for today's cybernetics revolution, starting with the 17th-century insights of Thomas Hobbes. This book challenges the assumption that nature and machine are opposing forces. Dyson believes them to be allies.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Introducing a cast of known and unknown characters, George B. Dyson traces the course of the information revolution, illuminating the lives and work of visionaries - from the time of Thomas Hobbes to the time of John von Neumann - who foresaw the development of artificial intelligence, artificial life, and artificial mind." "This book derives both its title and its outlook from Samuel Butler's 1863 essay "Darwin Among the Machines." Observing the beginnings of miniaturization, self-reproduction, and telecommunication among machines, Butler predicted that nature's intelligence, only temporarily subservient to technology, would resurface to claim our creations as her own." "Weaving a cohesive narrative among his brilliant predecessors, Dyson constructs a straightforward, convincing, and occasionally frightening view of the evolution of mind in the global network, on a level transcending our own. Dyson concludes that we are in the midst of an experiment that echoes the prehistory of human intelligence and the origins of life. Just as the exchange of coded molecular instructions brought life as we know it to the early earth's primordial soup, and as language and mind combined to form the culture in which we live, so, in the digital universe, are computer programs and worldwide networks combining to produce an evolutionary theater in which the distinctions between nature and technology are increasingly obscured." "Nature, believes Dyson, is on the side of the machines."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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