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Title sizzles, but book was unappetizing.
on February 14, 2003
I bought this book in the hope of reading some intelligent speculations by the author about evolution, machines, and AI, which is what the title suggested I would find. However, it turned out to be a history of the evolution of computers with old speculations from the computer pioneers concerning the evolution of computers injected along the way. To be fair, the author does have an overarching thesis that he tries to weave into the historical narrative whenever some past speculation seems to lend it some support. It is that the World Wide Web - that well known network of millions of computers - may some day, at a certain critical size and running who knows what software (certainly not the author) will become intelligent in some way (also not specified by the author). Come to think of it, I think the author has used the historical angle of the book - the similar speculations of the computer pioneers of the past - as a device to lend credence to his thesis - a kind of proof by consensus. I remain unconvinced, however. His arguments (where there were any; it was hard to tell his arguments from narrative) were very weak and unconvincing. To his credit, the author did a tremendous job of scholarship for the historical side of the book. However, he left the speculative side undeveloped (at the most weakly developed) and, therefore, the book was unappetizing to me.