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A bold and rigorous contribution to the literature on an increasingly important scientific subject.

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A writer offers an optimistic assessment of the future of artificial intelligence. 

The prospect of artificial intelligence is routinely made the subject of popular sci-fi, usually presented as a dystopian nightmare. Just as machines achieve self-awareness, they violently mutiny against their human oppressors. But Simon (Computer Aided Design of Printed Circuits, 1987) argues that while these scenarios are typically more cynical than warranted, they do capture what he believes is an inevitability: the creation of “super-intelligent thinking machines” endowed with free will and self-aware consciousnesses that are vastly superior in mental capacity to human beings. Because a “biological neuron is an electrochemical device, we could theoretically manufacture one with identical functionality from non-biological components such as transistors and capacitors.” Further, there is relentless consumer pressure to accomplish precisely this. The author articulates a general theory of intelligence that includes the eight essential capabilities a machine would have to demonstrate to be properly considered engaged in thought and ultimately capable of self-aware consciousness and free will. Simon doesn’t shy away from making boldly specific predictions: Computer intelligence will exceed human intelligence in 5 to 20 years, and in 30 years, there will be machines 1 million times as smart. He also considers the societal implications of such a development, including the nature of the technology that will be produced as well as the various doomsday scenarios so often treated in literature and cinema. The author has degrees in computer science and electrical engineering but also displays an impressive grasp of the relevant evolutionary, neuroscientific, and philosophical theories. At the heart of his provocative discussion is not only a consideration of what is technologically feasible, but also what it means for a being to be intelligent. Simon astutely understands that simply beating a person in chess doesn’t justify a meaningful attribution of consciousness, and his articulation of the conditions necessary for the replication of human cognition is penetrating. In addition, he manages to tackle conceptually complex problems in consistently accessible prose. 

A bold and rigorous contribution to the literature on an increasingly important scientific subject. 

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73268-721-9

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Future AI

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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