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God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion Paperback – March 15, 1966


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 99 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; First Edition edition (March 15, 1966)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262730111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262730112
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #783,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
Weiner was something of a revolutionary in his time. He (among others) pushed the revolution in computing out of the slipstick era. He, at the height of the Cold War, wrote for audiences in both the USSR and the USA. Small wonder that he took on religion. I mean that he took it on as a duty and companion, not as an opponent, though many might have seen opposition.

Much of this book lacks direction. He skims issues that are still contentious, including the right to die. His arguments about self-reproducing machines tend twaords the vague, although he admits that he avoided tedious precision. Many of his points are clear and sharp, however. Drawing on the genie in the bottle, the Sorcerer's Apprentice, and other popular literature, he argues that the capabilities of technology steadily run ahead of our ability to predict and mitigate its consequences. He also notes, during first light of the transistor age, that "Living matter has a fine structure ... [approached by] machines which operate according to the principles of solid-state physics." As usual, technological optimism carried him well beyond justifiable extrapolation. Also as usual, he had a fair inkling of how today's 0.1 micron transistors might compare to 1.0 micron brain cells.

His sharpest commentary starts in the faith that scientists and engineers are moral people, and work in the belief of the human good that comes from their life's work. (Please, don't descend to the belief that we think we are evil people reveling in evil outcomes.) Weiner notes that the deepest hell in Dante's Inferno is reserved for the sin of simony - directing the Church's good power to personal gain, using the force of money.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
Written in 1964 when the concept of a human interacting dynamically with a machine was first becoming a reality, there are facets of this book that are dated. Nevertheless, the concepts that are described are still as pertinent today as they were when Wiener first set down his thoughts. The book is a collection of essays where Wiener explains his ideas for what he thinks the future holds for humans interacting with machines.
The approach is very non-technical so it is possible for the lay person to understand his thoughts. The prose is also well structured, making it very easy to read through. Reading this book is a good way to go back in time and get some idea of what the early experts thought would be the direction and consequences of the development of the new "thinking machines". It is also an excellent choice for gaining a retrospective in any history of computing course.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
A brief series of personal essays by famous mathematician Norbert Wiener on the ethics of modern technology and questions whether humans should follow all leads of technology regardless of the consequences. An easy-to-read, informative book. No technical background is needed to understand the arguments.
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Format: Paperback
"God and Golem, Inc." by Norbert Wiener is a curious set of publications united under one title. It looks like all today's inventions and science paradigms were discovered long time ago. Would be interesting for A.I. and IT researchers.
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