- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; 2 edition (September 4, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465031625
- ISBN-13: 978-0465031627
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #837,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Darwin among the Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence 2nd Edition
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As timely now as it was when it was first published in 1997, Darwin Among the Machines tells the story of humankind’s long journey into the digital age. Historian of technology George Dyson traces the course of the information revolution, illuminating the lives and work of visionariesâfrom Thomas Hobbes to John von Neumannâwho foresaw the development of artificial intelligence, artificial life, and artificial mind. Weaving a convincing, occasionally frightening narrative of the evolution of the global network, Dyson explores the limits of Darwinian evolution to suggest what lies ahead. Computer programs and worldwide networks are combining to produce an evolutionary theater in which the distinctions between nature and technology are increasingly obscured, he argues. We are living in the midst of an experimentâone that echoes the prehistory of human intelligence and the origins of life. Now in a new paperback edition, this classic work on the emergence of collective mechanical intelligence will resonate for generations to come.
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Each chapter takes a single topic and starts back in time when it was the germ of an idea in someone's writings and carries it forward into the 1990's. This is not a technical book nor a book about computer science. It is more about the field of artificial life or perhaps artificial intelligence and brings the threads of evolution, encoding, hardware, software, networking, and other topics under a common theme. I picked it up because of a recent interest in the work of Nils A. Barricelli and was not disappointed in this regarded. I understand the other reviewers that were disappointed in the lack of technical detail, though I really don't think this is the aim of the book.
My one complaint is that Dyson does get his details wrong at times. For example, when discussing Ray's Tierra system he implies that all digital creatures were 80 instructions long, which is not true. This makes me wonder what other details he may have off as well. I read the book as more of a broad swath of history, in which the flow of time and growth of the idea is the focus and theme. The book is extremely well notated and has sparked my interest to look up the original works behind a few areas of discussion. Like many writer's in the 1990s, Dyson expected big results in artificial life over the coming years which did not come to pass. However, as a comprehensive history of the fields behind Alife this is well worth a visit.
A great read while kicking back at the beach.