The Age of the Robots is here, according to neural-networks consultant Caudill, who paints the current state of robotic research in glowing terms—and then warns that our ersatz spawn may prove to be an albatross around our neck. Two technologies are at work in the creation of an android: artificial intelligence, ``the attempt to make computers behave intelligently''; and neural networks, ``information-processing systems...that mimic our current understanding of the brain.'' Both are in fine mettle, as Caudill shows in what amounts to a book- length recipe for robots. Androids must be able to see, move, talk, remember, plan, solve problems, and learn from experience. Even now, the technology of vision is nearly licked. As for mobility, the first robots will tootle around on wheels, but two-legged locomotion is just a two-step behind. A ``human-like robotic finger'' exists, and today's robots can solve problems that no self-respecting human would entertain (``Delilah is a cat...all cats are furry,'' etc.). Soon robots will speak as fluently as Star War's C-3PO. And so on. Having delivered the high-tech goods, Caudill then performs some astounding leaps of logic and erects, on gossamer philosophical underpinnings, a claim that robots will possess what we know as feeling, mind, even life (according to her definitions, computer viruses are alive). This leads to such weighty questions as whether android hookers will be legalized (``might it not be safer from a hygienic perspective'') and, we kid you not, ``Could an android become...a Jewish rabbi?'' An intriguing, albeit clunkily penned (``NETtalk was an attempt to demonstrate neural network speech generation system capabilities''), glimpse into the current state of robotic research and of computer-jock fantasy. (Four halftones and 29 line drawings- -not seen.)
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").