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The Sciences of the Artificial - 3rd Edition Paperback – October 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0262691918 ISBN-10: 0262691914 Edition: 3rd
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Editorial Reviews

Review

People sometimes ask me what they should read to find out about artificial intelligence. Herbert Simon's book The Sciences of the Artificial is always on the list I give them. Every page issues a challenge to conventional thinking, and the layman who digests it well will certainly understand what the field of artificial intelligence hopes to accomplish. I recommend it in the same spirit that I recommend Freud to people who ask about psychoanalysis, or Piaget to those who ask about child psychology: If you want to learn about a subject, start by reading its founding fathers.

(George A. Miller Complex Information Processing )

About the Author

Herbert Simon is Professor of Psychology at Carnegie-Mellon University. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 1978.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 215 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 3rd edition (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262691914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262691918
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #296,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Blaine Lilly on December 30, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is one of the most thought provoking, challenging books I've come across in many years. Simon tosses off ideas like a Border Collie shaking off water. This is not a book to be skimmed, or to be taken lightly, but a slow careful reading will certainly pay off. I read this book for insights into product design, and it did not disappoint.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rameez Rahman on December 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
Let me first say a few words about the writing style. Simon's writing style is quite lackluster. He isn't a great writer like say Bertrand Russell, or George Orwell for that matter. But for the purposes of this book, his style suffices and is perhaps spot-on.

Ok my general impression about the book: I think historically it's a groundbreaking book; it's a book written by a visionary; it's a book that at the time must have challenged a lot of people's opinions on a lot of things; in short it's an extremely important book! Having said that, here one needs to ask the all important question, reviewing it as one is, after a gap of more than 40 years since it was first published: Overall, has the book stood the test of time?

The answer, surprisingly, is: `Yes' and `No'! Some of its insights are still very relevant, while some others are pretty outdated (which makes one wonder why Simon in later editions did not feel the need to say at least a few words about where he had gone wrong, and where he had over-simplified things to an astonishing degree).

But before talking about both the great and not so great parts, let me briefly sketch the central idea that Simon has delineated in this book, which in fact drives the entire book. Simply, it can be described as the importance of concentrating upon the interface of a system with its outer and inner environments, without having to understand in detail either the inner or outer environments. In Simon's words, "We might look toward a science of the artificial that would depend on the relative simplicity of the interface as its primary source of abstraction and generality".

Let's start with the parts that he got right. Well, first off, "Bounded rationality" of course.
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39 of 51 people found the following review helpful By William C. Burkett on December 9, 1999
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Although the language is a little stilted at times and difficult to read, the range and scope - and implications - of Simon's ideas are profound. The relationships he describes between thinking, computing, and human behavior are extremely interesting and provide a "look toward the future". And the fact that Simon has been working and researching in this area for, like, FOREVER (some of the citations of his work is from the 50's) lends a lot of credence to his ideas.
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32 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
Explores economics, management, computer science, psychology and phylosophy to understand human being and artifacts, the work of human being. Ideas presented are highly philosophical but widely applicable to the real world, especially when designing organization or large projects.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mike on July 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is not an easy read -- and I suspect that Simon was quite cognizant that such a challenge would indeed be the case for readers of this excellent book. For me, there seemed at first to be a disjointedness among the first three or four chapters; however, as I progressed from chapter to chapter, Simon's principle themes continued to unfold ever more clearly. The final chapter on the architecture of complexity ultimately pulled together Simon's thoughts and elaborations from all preceding chapters.

In sum, this book is both highly insightful and thought-provoking. Admittedly, I was at first skeptical, due mostly to the various negative reviews posted on Amazon.com; however, having taken the time to read Simon's seminal work, I am truly glad I did. Very highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
How could I NOT give Simon's seminal work five stars?

It's one of those books that has always made me think, not just about design and systems but about logic, patterns and critical thinking.

To summarise this book in one (long) sentence it would be:

If you have the passion to read and reflect on every single sentence and idea in the book, it helps you appreciate that you have been perceiving the world hithero in black and white
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18 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Collins on June 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
in 2008, this work is primarily of historical interest. simon suggests a scientific approach to design, claiming one has existed since the mid-1970's - in retrospect, a highly suspect if not thoroughly rejected claim

regardless, simon was a visionary and some of his insight is still relevant. the focus on the "outer environment" - the context of usage - to navigate the space of possible designs is a foundation of contemporary design dogma. similarly, attention to the natural cognitive capabilities of human beings (short term memory, importance/difficulty of interruptions, etc) finds a warm home in current human-centered design practices

otherwise, without notable exception, the "examples" are abstract, ridiculous and/or hackneyed caricatures. the language is abstract, wordy, repetitive, and difficult to follow. simon writes with a computer scientist's sensitivity to humanity, using identical terms to describe both a computer's information-processing and a human's intelligence (eg, p110, "a scientific account of human cognition describes it in terms of several sets of invariants. first, there are the parameters of the inner environment. then, there are the general control and search-guiding mechanisms that are used over and over again in all task domains..."). the work exhibits a techno-fetishist's faith in the power of computers and software - referencing them repeatedly (and unbelievably) to explain how human intelligence works

i only recommend this book to someone interested in the history of design and/or technology. for purposes of learning about design, i highly recommend something newer and better
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