Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $4.98 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $5.98 shipping
Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, & the Economic World Paperback – April 14, 1995
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
In many ways, the 20th century has been the Age of Physics. Out of Control is an accessible and entertaining explanation of why the coming years will probably be the Age of Biology -- particularly evolution and ethology -- and what this will mean to most every aspect of our society. Kelly is an enthusiastic and well-informed guide who explains the promises and implications of this rapidly evolving revolution very well.
From Publishers Weekly
In this mind-expanding exploration of the synergistic intersection of computer science, biology, systems theory, cybernetics and artificial intelligence, Kelly investigates what he calls "vivisystems"--lifelike, complex, engineered systems capable of growing in complexity. Among the objects and ideas that he scrutinizes are computer models that simulate ecosystems; the "group mind" of bee hives and ant colonies; virtual-reality worlds; robot prototypes; and Arizona's Biosphere 2. Former publisher and editor of Whole Earth Review , now executive editor of Wired , Kelly distills the unifying principles governing self-improving systems, which he labels "the nine laws of god." Leaping from Antonio Gaudi's futuristic buildings in Barcelona to computerized "smart" houses to computer simulations that challenge Darwinian evolutionary theory, this sprawling odyssey will provoke and reward readers across many disciplines.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
So, why 10 months? Kevin Kelly is very wordy. Yes, Kelly provides fascinating insights and revelations about machine biology, "hive mind" theory, co-evolution, the evolution of computers, and the future of planet Earth. But he does all of this with about 200 pages more than are actually necessary to make his point. Kelly is a great writer, no doubt, but he tends to wander aimlessly, which makes these difficult topics challenging to understand. A good editor would have helped immensely.
Out of control also suffers from a lack of cohesion, and would be better served as a collection of separate essays about each topic, rather than a book that strives to espouse one overarching theme. As I was reading, I kept wondering where Kelly was going with all of his ideas, as a lack of drive seemed evident.
Lest you think I have nothing but ill contempt for this book, there is a payoff: Kelly is a brilliant soothsayer, of sorts. This book was written 16 years ago, so hindsight can readily be applied, and Kelly's predictions about where science would be with relation to computers, nanotechnology, pharmaceuticals, this crazy thing called the "Internet" he kept mentioning, have nearly all come to fruition. Does this mean machines and computers develop their own biology, and begin truly thinking for themselves, as Kelly suggests? Time will only tell.
What makes this book valuable reading is that the author emphasizes the collective behavior of dynamical systems. Too often the reductionist trend in Western science obscures how the system works together, how its many parts collectively induce an emergent behavior not at all apparent in the systems "equations of motion".
Since the book is written for a popular audience, the approach is qualitative and allegorical. This purely descriptive approach does however allow a more general overview of complex dynamical systems im many different areas. The author gives a fascinating discussion of swarm systems and their advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages according to the author is that they are "nonunderstandable"; but here he is mistaken, for complex systems can be understood, although such an understanding takes some effort anc computational horsepower. Also, in his discussion of network behavior the author asserts that it is "counterintuitive" and quotes "Braess's paradox" as proof of this. Dietrich Braess discovered that adding routes to an already congested network will slow it down. There are examples of this, but it is not a hard-and-fast rule, as network engineers who employ load balancing can attest to. Adding time-dependent paths can work to reduce congestion, this time-dependence not addressed in Braess's formulation of the paradox.
Some more interesting discussions in the book are allegorical, but they serve to encourage "thinking out of the box":1. The effects of isolation and boredom on the human mind: the need for the physical body to temper unruly constructions of the mind. 2. The chameleon riddle: what color will a chameleon take on if put in front of a mirror? 3.The Prisoner's dilemna. This has got to be the most widely used tool for encouraging cooperation, in spite of its simplicity and impracticality. Computer simulation of the Prisoner's dilemna with 1000 players has revealed phenomena familiar in evolutionary studies, such as parasitism, spontaneously emerging symbiosis, and long-term stable coexistence between species. 4. Physical systems as computational processes; this is the most radical of the ideas in the book, but the author does not expound upon it in any great detail though. 5. The Biosphere experiment; I only read brief news reports of this while it was going on, so it was interesting to read here a detailed account of it. 6. The need for industry to adopt "biological" methodologies: complexity is more efficient, less wasteful, and more robust. 7. Network economics: The "network company" of the 21st century will be distributed (no single location), decentralized, collaborative (outsourcing to competitors!), and adaptive. This chapter is the most practical of all those in the book. 8. The role of encryption in a digital economy, particularly "encryption-metering" and digital cash. 9. The importance of simulation in defense and industry in the 21st century: simulate before you build, simulate before you buy, and simulate before you fight. 10. The evolution machine and its resultant creation of sex; the consequent discussion of genetic/evolutionary programming. The differences between 'Lamarckian' and 'Darwinian" evolutionary programs. 11. Postdarwinism: why have no new species been detected naturally or even in computer simulations? The central thesis of Neodarwinism is that only the environment can select mutations, but not induce or direct them.
Since this book was published in 1994, there have been many advances in the areas that the author discusses. Evolutionary programming has taken off, with many applications in finance, biology, network engineering, and large-scale circuit design. Swarm robots are currently under development, with deployment just years away. Computational/intelligent agents are now managing networks, with autonomous agents just around the corner.Encryption and smart-card technologies have mushroomed along with intelligent computer virus detection. Simulation is now thought of as a "must-do" in every phase of business and industry, and simulations are now thought of as sophisticated enough to model real-world situations without any experimental "validation". Indeed, technological advancement and its application is moving forward at a dizzying rate, and seemingly...out of control?
Most recent customer reviews
Even I'm reading this book now, those ideas are still enlightening.