From Library Journal
With evangelical fervor, Gelernter's book-length essay paints a future where software technology, now isolating people, brings them into impersonal proximity through "mirror worlds." These computer models of reality let users descend to greater depths of detail at will, meet other explorers, and generally get the "big picture" of what's going on. However, Gelernter's own appraisal of the value of computers seems inconsistent and extreme: he claims they are valuable just sitting unused on the coffee table but then insists that the uninitiated will be forced to "sink or swim" (i.e., learn to use computers) in the information sea computers create. His casual style gives the book the feel of a lecture transcript, and his metaphors (e.g., "jettisoned floating landscapes in tuple space") demand considerable hardware and software knowledge to link them with reality. For collections emphasizing computer science.- Doug Kranch, Ambassador Coll. Lib., Big Sandy, Tex.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Within ten years, Gelernter (Computer Science/Yale) predicts here, scientists will deploy computer systems able to capture extensive data about a particular ``reality'' (hospital, city, etc.), and to present a constantly updated model on a desktop computer. ``A Mirror World is some huge institution's moving, true-to- life mirror image trapped inside a computer--where you can see and grasp it whole,'' Gelernter writes. Citizens will be able to visit these computer models like public squares, gaining unprecedented access to data on what's going on (and the officials in charge, the author intimates, will presumably welcome a chance to have their performance monitored). Building such mirror worlds will be extraordinarily difficult: streams and rivers of raw data need to be constantly flowing; thousands of computers must process the data in parallel fashion; and tying it all together will demand new kinds of software of immense complexity. Gelernter explains clearly the problems to be solved and describes pieces of the technology already working in research labs. Left unchallenged is his assumption that such technology will remain benign--giving honest folk a way of grasping an ever-more complex world instead of providing the powerful owners of such technology a superb way to distort and control ``reality.'' Plausible but potentially frightening view of what the future could hold if those who view ``reality'' as merely a vast array of numbers waiting to be crunched have their way. (Twenty illustrations--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.