Cognitive neurologist and well-known writer team up to produce a machine that can pass a comprehensive exam in English literature, with predictably unpredictable results. Like The Gold Bug Variations, this is another of Powers' wild, unforgettable novels encompassing science, philosophy, and the frailty of mankind. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Powers, in his mid-30s and with four well-received books under his belt (Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance; The Gold Bug Variations; etc.), is among our most prodigious young novelists, and without a doubt our most cerebral. He seems bent on proving the novel to be a form capable of housing all manner of human thought and expression: art, music, genetic theory, linguistics and philosophy. In Galatea 2.2, Powers, known as an extremely private person, is writing about himself?Richard Powers, the cerebral author of four novels?in a most intimate fashion, detailing his loves, passions and failings. His objective, however, is nothing so mundane as self-portraiture. Typically, he has a bigger idea: in exploring the nature of consciousness, he is trying to build a conscious novel in much the same way that the novel's fictional Powers is trying to spark consciousness in a university computer. The result is a kind of double simulation of intelligence that is breathtakingly elegant. Powers the character, returns to a Midwestern university with a huge computer science department, after several years in Holland, where he has left behind the love of his life, who saw him through the first four books. As a visiting writer, his job is to bombard a computer network, which he comes to call Helen, with literature, music and conversation so that it will recognize beauty in some neuronal simulation, and therefore become conscious of it. Meanwhile, Powers reveals his life, including his career as a novelist (down to the mentioning of a rare picture of him in a PW interview four years ago). It's as if both Helen and the novel itself can be programmed into self-consciousness. In the course of tutoring Helen to be able to successfully interpret a piece of text in a manner indistinguishable from a human, Powers and Helen form an enchanting though eerie bond: she has "read" all his books; he knows her circuitry. Still, there remain mysteries that can't be accounted for by electron paths, in Helen's case, or by a theory of the self, in Powers's case. In the end, Powers is left with the conviction he started with: that intelligence is irreducible; it cannot be known. Although parts of the book seem hastily done or weakly felt (the university folk are rather two-dimensional, and Powers's crush on a rail-thin, obnoxious grad student is simply unaccountable), these are minor flaws in an otherwise ingenious performance.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Gobbledygook! Didn't bother to finish. Too many other books that are worth reading to warrant spending time on this loser.Published 3 months ago by Jane A. Rubey
A fascinating exploration of artificial intelligence and what it means to be conscious.Published 4 months ago by Abby
I picked up GALATEA 2.2 because the book's summary promised a melding of neuro-science and literature in a self-aware computer. What was actually between the covers? Read morePublished 13 months ago by Lori Parker
Overly intellectualized. Would rather read an actual research tract on embodied cognition and a novel about real people with real emotions and relations.Published 14 months ago by Harobed
Power explores the facets of artificial intelligence and its limitations, The peculiarities of self and biology along with a smidgen of hope for the human race.Published 15 months ago by Kirk Rogers Jr.
I have read this book several times and alreadys find something new in it. A unique love story and exploration of how we define emotions.Published 23 months ago by Patricia J Jensen
I read anything and everything by Richard Powers. This particular copy of Galatea is a replacement for a copy I gave someone.Published on February 27, 2013 by Terri Gregory