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Hayles tracks this shift across the history of avant-garde computer theory, starting with Norbert Weiner and other early "cyberneticists," who were the first to systematically explore the similarities between living and computing systems. Hayles's study ends with artificial-life specialists, many of whom no longer even bother to distinguish between life forms and computers. Along the way she shows these thinkers struggling to reconcile their traditional, Western notions of human identity with the unsettling, cyborg directions in which their own work seems to be leading humanity.
This is more than just the story of a geek elite, however. Hayles looks at cybernetically inspired science fiction by the likes of Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, and Neal Stephenson to show how the larger culture grapples with the same issues that dog the technologists. She also draws lucidly on her own broad grasp of contemporary philosophy both to contextualize those issues and to contend with them herself. The result is a fascinating introduction--and a valuable addition--to one of the most important currents in recent intellectual history. --Julian Dibbell
Insightful, well-researched, and very clear, considering the material she explores. In multipying [her (introductory)] references [Hayles] does not muddle [her] discourse but, on... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Honey
Two stars because it's good writing and well done. I just can't bear the subject, which I find spectacularly boring.Published 14 months ago by Justin Wollenberg
Really good theory text. Not even necessary for my course work, I just ended up wanting another of her books for research and edification.Published 24 months ago by wsfn
As we consider drug use for higher scores on high-stakes test, become blasé about dental implants, expect prosthetics to have electronic nerves, and keep our smartphones as... Read morePublished on March 31, 2013 by E. Kanell
My low rating is not for the text itself, but for the kindle formatting. Normally, one would be able to transfer between each chapter by using the arrow buttons, but this e-book... Read morePublished on November 13, 2012 by LitStudent
Interesting how Ms. Hayles does not mention the transhuman or transhumanism, Max More and his seminal essay "Becoming Posthuman" written several years before Ms. Read morePublished on May 1, 2007 by Natasha Vita-More
This is probably one of the hardest books I have ever read--with no background in either philosophy or cybernetics, much of what Hayles discusses is just plain incomprehensible. Read morePublished on May 21, 2003 by F. Mercer