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Hardcover Robot: Evolution from Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind Book

ISBN: 0195116305

ISBN13: 9780195116304

Robot: Evolution from Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

Machines will attain human levels of intelligence by the year 2040, predicts robotics expert Hans Moravec. And by 2050, they will have far surpassed us. In this mind-bending new book, Hans Moravec takes the reader on a roller coaster ride packed with such startling predictions. He tells us, for instance, that in the not-too-distant future, an army of robots will displace workers, causing massive, unprecedented unemployment. But then, says Moravec,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Exceeds expectations created by its title

With high praise from such giants as Sir Arthur C. Clarke and Doctor David Brin on the dust jacket, I asked myself where I, unlettered and relative to them barely conscious, think I'm going trying to write a review. I have a friend who likes to say he never lets ignorance stop him from expressing his opinion on a subject. Guess I remember that one `cause it fits me so well, so here goes. In his 1950 paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence, Alan Turing grouped the arguments opposing the possibility of machine intelligence into the following nine categories: 1- The Theological Objection - thinking is a function of the soul. Machines have no souls, so cannot think. 2 - The "Heads in the Sand" Objection - Thinking machines cannot be possible because the consequences would be too dreadful. 3 - The Mathematical Objection - Mechanical reasoning has certain provable limitations that human thought may not share. 4 - The Argument from Consciousness - Machines have no inner experiences to give meaning to their utterances, actions, or internal operations. 5 - Arguments from Various Disabilities - Machines will never be kind, moral, joyous, perceptive, original, etc. 6 - Lady Lovelace's Objection - Computers do only what we program them to do. 7 - The Argument from Continuity in the Nervous System - Nerves respond to arbitrarily tiny signal differences, while computers work in fixed-size steps. 8 - The Argument from Informality of Behavior - It is not possible to specify for a machine what to do in every possible circumstance a human might encounter. 9 - The Argument from Extrasensory Perception - Humans sometimes sense remote or future information unavailable to deterministic processes in computers. Moravec provides current arguments countering each item above, but central to all seems to be this: the principle difference between human and machine is we are conscious. This state, however, is so complex we are unable to explain it. Neither do we understand how or from where it arises in our brains. The author offers a compelling posit; If as of Robot's publication (1999), the most powerful computers could process a million MIPS (million instructions per second), computers capable of a billion MIPS should be just over the horizon. It will be then, Moravec projects, that the mysterious and exclusively human state we call "consciousness" will be revealed to be not exclusive at all, but merely the capacity to accumulate, process, and interpret sufficient amounts of data in the span of each instant of time - and that when this is achieved, computers will sense the state of their surroundings and thus become "conscious" in the same way we are. He lays the groundwork for this leap carefully, detailing his personal experiences in robotics and the pace of advances in the field. Arriving at the present day situation, he then takes us step by careful step into the future. It's all completely understandable and reasonable. He's right - know what I'm saying? Even

Automation and quality of life

The best book on the future of robotics and automation! However, Hans believes robots are our wonderful mind children and should grow into powerful machines that evolve quickly past us. He is then horrified that some humans may transform themselves into machines and become very dangerous. Why won't his mind children be just as dangerous or more dangerous? At least a mind-transferred human might seek pleasure and fun. While Hans' logical AI robots make their galactic invasion plans! Why not engineer automation to its pleasure giving limits? Instead of giving robots a high quality of life, design automation to increase EVERYONE quality of life and wealth on Earth???

A truly first-rate book of speculative science.

____________________________________________Robot begins quietly enough, with a pithy reprise of the history of robotics and artificial intelligence, and some nifty short-term projections: robot cooks and houseboys, coming soon! Then it turns to a strange, cool, unblinking vision of a future where ordinary biologic humans are confined to a reservation/retirement home on cozy old Earth, while their "mind children", advanced machine intelligences, go out to conquer the Universe in a "bubble of Mind expanding at near-lightspeed."Moravec's mind-bubble will absorb and digest every physical entity inits path, from ancient Voyager spacecraft to entire alien biospheres.("I am vast. I contain multitudes.") These absorbed entities, he says,"may continue to live and grow as if nothing had happened, obliviousto their new status as simulations in cyberspace." Data-storagecapacity won't be a problem -- the atoms that make up your body,Moravec tells us, "could contain the efficiently encoded biospheres ofa thousand galaxies."With the entire cosmos transformed into cyberspace, it would bepossible for not just our "original versions," but every variation onthem, to "live" as massively-parallel simulations, playing out all ofthe possibilities of Alternate History, perhaps as entertainment forthe vast, cool Intellects that have supplanted us. As Moravec notes,we could already be living as simulations: We might well wonderwhether we're the "true" original, or just one of many reruns. "Thereis no way to tell for sure," he writes, and since we can never know,"the suspicion that we are someone else's thought does not free usfrom the burdens of life."And Moravec's not done. Now things gets *really* weird, as he moves into a"what is reality?" windup that invokes Frank Tipler's Omega Point, anthropic cosmology, parallel universes, and life after death. He does get a little flaky here [note 2], but what a grand Stapledonian blowoff!Science fiction readers will recognize concepts from many of the finest hard-SF novels of the past few decades: Gregory Benford'suniverse-conquering machine intelligences, Greg Egan's lives-as-simulations, Vernor Vinge's Singularity, Robert Forward's fractal- bush robots. Robert Charles Wilson's current Darwinia could almost be a novelization of Robots. Moravec's book is an excellent guide to the science behind a lot of recent SF -- and an exciting (if disturbing) preview of what's next.These connections to SF are no accident: Moravec, who co-founded the robotics program at Carnegie-Mellon University, grew up reading science fiction, built two robots for high-school science-fair projects, and first published his robot/AI speculations in an Analog essay in 1978, while a student at Stanford. He expanded that piece into a popular-science book, Mind Children (1988, also excellent), which the present book extends and updates. (He promises the next update in 2008.) Moravec has also written Omni articles with Robert Forward on space elevators (1981),

Go Robots GO!

Like danny hillis once said, if you gave me the chance to upload my brain into a robot, i'd do it in a minute. This book takes a while to get going. It takes you on a tour of the authors trevails with primitive robots. but when it hits the future, and lays our the next one hundred years, you can't help but feel excited and giddy with anticipation. I wish he spent more time on nanotechnology, but what there was was excellent. I thought I had just about read it all, but he turned many of my notions about the future inside out. a powerful vision of the future.

Interesting Speculations On Mankind's Future

Fascinating predictions on the possible course of human and machine evolution by one of the world's foremost experts in the field. Whether or not one agrees with Moravec and shares (or does not share) his optimism is beside the point. He definitely sparks discussion! Myself, I just remember that it is extremely difficult to predict the future beyond the short term and yet...
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