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Pulse: The Coming Age of Systems and Machines Inspired by Living Things Hardcover – April 4, 2006
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
From Publishers Weekly
The computer HAL in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey is infamous for its dispassion, but former Audubon contributing editor Frenay tells readers that computers with emotions will arrive sooner than we may feel comfortable with. In this wide-ranging look at how biology and technology are being integrated in almost every area of human invention, Frenay writes of virtual communities and societies that are springing up online, some with economic systems that mimic those of the real world. Scientists have already created virtual life forms that have developed "sex" all by themselves and are exhibiting evolutionary traits. In the book's most original chapter, the author explains why some economists even advocate using biological metaphors to explain adaptive behaviors in our sophisticated interest rate–based economies. Occasionally the author throws his net rather wide, scooping up more topics than he can discuss adequately, and some of this material has been addressed better by other writers. Still, readers well versed in science who want to avoid future shock will encounter unusual matters on the frontiers of science that may be coming soon to a computer, merchant or medical facility near you. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In journalistic fashion, Frenay refracts what environmentally aware scientists, farmers, and economists are saying about technologies, markets, and the biosphere. Distilling their viewpoints, Frenay expounds on developments that take into account the environmental costs of industrialism and overpopulation. The array of material--artificial intelligence, organic farming, and more--tends to fragment the narrative. But the constant changes in topic will give readers interested in practical over ideological environmentalism a survey of what's happening greenwise across the board. Frenay sustains a metaphor that devices, companies, and economies will perform better if they behave like organisms and ecosystems in the biosphere, that is, as decentralized, open systems balancing flows of energy and matter. The "new biology" Frenay touts promises the technological mimicry of living things rather than machine-age mastery of them. His optimism, however, stands in contrast to his indignant pessimism about corporate business practices. A smorgasbord de luxe, Frenay's reportage is sustaining fare for environmentalists. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
The one big revelation I had while reading this book was the understanding that our econmic system, based on banks loaning money at compounding interest rates, volates the laws of nature. The Second law of thermodnnamics, as Frenay points out, dictates that energy dissipates when it is transferred from one physical system to another. Bank and credit loans defy this law, resulting in the boom and bust cycles we see in our economies today. His recommendation that we revert to barter systems was incredibly thought provoking.
Diane C. Donovan