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Artificial Life: The Quest for a New Creation 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0679407744
ISBN-10: 067940774X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"A-life" research--the creation of artificial systems with natural behavioral traits of their own--has preoccupied computer theorists since the 1950s. The theory of automata--self-regulating computer programs--is all but inherent in computing, and the last 10 years have brought artificial intelligence to the verge of becoming a real algorithmic sorcerer's apprentice. Science reporter Levy ( Hackers ) writes for readers with extensive interdisciplinary backgrounds in science, although he includes such popular sensations as an artificially "live" foot-long robot cockroach. But his focus, and the real excitement of his subject, remains in looking over the conceptual edge that A-life research defines, where the science is not only original, but perhaps more original than we know.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The effort to create artificial life is occurring primarily within computer science, although it brings together physicists, microbiologists, mathematicians, ethologists, and others in addition to computer scientists. The computer's ability to simulate system development is being generalized to study evolution and reproduction. Neural networks, while also used for applications other than artificial life simulation, are the primary form considered. As in his earlier book on computer hackers ( Hackers , LJ 11/1/84), Levy paints vivid images of the people involved in this work and puts a lot of effort into explanation of technical details, but this book is not easy reading. (None of the notes or figures were seen.) For larger specialized science collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/92.
- Hilary D. Burton, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Livermore, Cal.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st edition (May 30, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067940774X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679407744
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,011,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book serves as a good introduction to the work many individuals are doing not only in Artificial Life but also in fields related to Artificial Life. If you want an indepth examination then you will probably have to find items written by the individual scientists, but this is enough to get your feet wet and thus allow you to focus your search. If you are interested in these topics I would suggest you also look at Complexity Science and the similar books there like "Complexity" by Waldrop and "Out of Control" by Kelly, though many times the anecdotes in these three stories are very similiar Waldrop and Kelly look more at Santa Fe Institute. Finally though I haven't read the reprint version of this book, the original book seems very gloomy in terms of its attitude on Artificial Life. Levy seems to think that Artificial Life will be created but the entire last chapter seems to indicate he thinks it will be bad. Anyway it's a good book overall especially if you know nothing about the subject. If you know something then it provides a good examination to a lot of different techniques and you can easily learn something you didn't know before.
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Format: Paperback
I read this more than three years ago, before I started my undergraduate studies. I knew I was going to study computer science, but after reading this book I knew I would forever be drawn to the multidisciplinary fields of biology and computer science. From the question of the origin of life to intelligence, the book convinced me that a new approach is needed to solve these old mysteries.
It's not a masterpiece of literature, but it was interesting enough to forever change my research career.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A report from the frontier where computers meet biology. This is a great book. How else would it make it onto Kwato's select reading list?
About the genetic algorithm. Remember all the fuss about expert systems and artificial intelligence? Well, this is the way ol' Mother Nature figures out how to get things done. Chilling. Terrifying, Interesting. Colonies of light in magnetic and silicate media live, die, reproduce and struggle for survival.
This is the best book of its type I have ever read. It is really, really interesting and Steve Levy puts it all together. Sala'am, Steve Levy (I am making oriental-style bows in my cube right now) Plus is is scary. Not fun scary like Frankenstein, but deep-down scary. The future belongs to RAM creatures.
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Format: Hardcover
AL is popular science writing of the first order: informative, clear, fascinating, and entertaining. My only disappointment is that it was published in 1992, and thus does not touch on developments in the field since then. I'd love to know how these have panned out, and whether scientists remain enthusiastic about the possibilities of A-Life. Judging from the textbooks on A-life that have been published since 1992, the field is alive, at least, and I can only assume it is well to boot. I'll have to hunt for bibliography elsewhere. My thanks to Levy for sending me on this hunt. AL is a book to fire the imagination. I'd give it 10 stars!

A note on the metaphysical material in AL that bears on the question of whether present iterations of 'artificial life' are, or whether future iterations may one day be, sufficiently complex that they should be considered true LIFE: throughout, Levy stresses the essential link between an (')organism(') (wet or dry) and its environment. Yet, it seems to me, in discussing the question of the LIFE-status of in-silico 'organisms', he considers the 'organisms' alone. I wonder whether this apparent preference reflects his own bias, or a bias on the part of the scientists he profiles? From the perspective of emergent behavior and the capacity to evolve, etc., AL 'creatures' self-evidently bear a striking resemblance to biological creatures. It strikes me, however, that a key consideration in the wet-life as LIFE versus dry-'life' as LIFE argument -- is that wet-life organisms express emergent behavior and evolve, etc., in environments that are, throughout, rife with other life, whereas dry-'life' 'organisms' do the same in environments that are otherwise sterile (by the standards that A-Life scientists themselves would apply).
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Format: Paperback
This book is a terrific introduction and overview to the field of artificial life. Not to be at all confused with the more mundane "artificial intellgence", AL is the quest to create something that can be considered to be sentient within a computer system. Great reading for everyone, not just the technically literate, on a subject that I believe will become one of the great issues and debates of the 21st century.
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Format: Paperback
Levy presents a fascinating roundup of the state of the art in this new field of computer science, complete with interviews with some colorful personalities and their pet projects. A must for cyberculture groupies and followers of cutting-edge thought.

--Richard Brodie, author, Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Mem
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Format: Paperback
This is an extremely well written survey of the entire field of Alife. It's the best general introduction to Alife in print and I expect it shall be in print for quite some time.
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