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How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection Hardcover – June 5, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0805095517 ISBN-10: 0805095519 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805095519
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805095517
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,218,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“You've got to love a book that includes physics-lecturing fish, android Einsteins, and researchers intent on building robot replicas of their wives and girlfriends. Not to mention Philip K. Dick himself. This is an instant classic of weird science.”--Alex Boese, bestselling author of Elephants on Acid and Electric Sheep

"This story is touching, absorbing and, ultimately, an exploration of what it means to be human."--The Spectator

“The best kind of popular science... Leaves you hungry to know more, and wondering at the possibilities that may lie ahead.” --Australian Bookseller & Publisher

“Literally incredible.”--The Age

"[Dufty] ably describes the fertile, feverish atmosphere of intellectual endeavor, the kind of place where a crazy idea--like building a Philip K. Dick android--could take hold."--LA Times

"[Dufty's] reconstruction through interviews with the participants is an appealing depiction of brilliant minds dreaming big on shoestring budgets."--The New York Times Book Review

"A highly technical story that Dufty manages to make intriguing and accessible to less tech-savvy readers...A fascinating story."--Kirkus

"Dufty engagingly chronicles the efforts of a team of roboticists to build an android modeled on science fiction writer Philip K. Dick...A fun read."--Publishers Weekly

"A fascinating and mind-bending book, written for the general reader, although experts in the field of robotics will find it particularly stimulating, and fans of Dick's oeuvre will be captivated by the whole idea of turning the legendary storyteller into a mechanical man."--Booklist

 

About the Author

David F. Dufty is a senior research officer at the Australian Bureau of Statistics. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Memphis at the time the android was being developed and worked closely with the team of scientists who created it. He completed a psychology degree with honors at the University of Newcastle and has a PhD in psychology from Macquarie University.


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Customer Reviews

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Quite a good read, but nobody will blame you if you leave the book on a plane.
Doug Urquhart
Yet I can't help notice YouTube comments, as well as quotes in the text of the book itself, confessing the creep factor.
Brian M. Ranzoni
If you're going to read a book about robotics, then 'How to Build an Android' is a great start.
sneaky-sneaky

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Daniel H. Hamilton VINE VOICE on March 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I fear that the title and blurbs for this book will narrow its appeal to nerds and sci-fi fans (I include myself), which would be a shame because David Dufty has done an impressive job of exploring fundamental questions about what it means to be human and what role the attributes of that humanity play in how we interact with "thinking" machines.

Dufty has also managed to combine elements of a mystery, an adventure, sci-fi, and social commentary without letting the seams between those story threads become so visible to the audience that they disrupt the narrative flow. If this sounds a bit like the goals of the project which created an artificially-intelligent android of famed science fiction author Philip K. Dick, well, there you go. Dufty's role in that project gave him up-close access, but to his credit he also maintains perspective and reports on the ups and down of the team's efforts with some objectivity and distance.

The edition I read is a pre-publication proof and if I were the editor I would make one significant change prior to the announced on-sale date of June, 2012. Lose the Introduction. As writers have been taught since time immemorial, a great way to start a book or story is "in medias res" -- in the middle of things. Chapter 1 does this with a "grabber" lede worthy of a master journalist: "In December 2005, an android head went missing from an America West flight between Dallas and Las Vegas." You'd have to be -- pardon the expression -- brain dead not to want to keep reading. Compare that to the intro, which starts out, "In 2005, I was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Memphis ..." You get the idea.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jason Kirkfield VINE VOICE on August 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Originally, I had hoped to dovetail this review with that of another book, the near-thousand page tome, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. However, time constraints and what will surely be an acute case of eye strain compel me to save that for a later day (year?).

The subject book, How to Build an Android (original Australian title: Lost in Transit), is a tell-all about the creation of a robot honoring science fiction author Philip K. Dick. In my opinion, this book may find its audience limited, or at the very least, mildly disappointed. Written by a postdoctoral student on the periphery of the PKD project at the University of Memphis, How to Build an Android offers plenty of details, yet struggles to connect the minutia to real-world relevance. It's sort of like gossiping about how much Diet Coke your neighbor drinks. Like, who cares?

There's no question that PKD's own profile has increased exponentially since his untimely death in 1982. That same year saw the theatrical release of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, now regarded as possibly the classic dystopian vision. Blade Runner was of course based on Dick's short story, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. More adaptations would follow at a quickening pace. We Can Remember It for You Wholesale became Total Recall (1990). Second Variety became Screamers (1995).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Philip K. Dick Android--a collaboration between private roboticist David Hanson and a team of intelligence researchers at the University of Memphis--gained great notoriety when it debuted in 2003. People jockeyed for a chance to speak with it for just one or two minutes. Audiences cheered when it said something unpredictable, profound, or even hurtful. Though rudimentary, viewers glimpsed in "Phil" a possible shape of their future.

Then, in 2005, bound for its highest profile gig yet, the android vanished.

Author David F. Dufty, now an Australian government researcher, was present in Memphis for the android's bizarre life, and even stranger disappearance. Though not a participant, Dufty knew the research team well enough to recount a thorough insider's perspective. And though he swears he has inserted not one word of fiction, this heady blend of computer science, mechanical engineering, psychology, and art has more twists than PKD's legendary novels.

Art Graesser, founder of Memphis' Institute of Intelligence Studies, dedicated his life to understanding and recreating the rational mind. David Hanson, a Dallas graduate student and entrepreneur, felt it didn't matter how intelligent Artificial Intelligence became if humans couldn't feel comfortable interacting with it. The two found kindred spirits in each other, and together opened the door to one of modern technology's strangest and most exciting enterprises.

The decision to build an android in PKD's likeness was extremely meta. An android image of a writer who envisioned a world where people wondered if they were androids? Really? Then they displayed it in an illusion of the house in which PKD came to believe all reality was an illusion.
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