In this narrative tour de force, gifted scientist and author John L. Casti contemplates an imaginary evening of intellectual inquirya sort of My Dinner with” not Andre, but five of the most brilliant thinkers of the twentieth century.Imagine, if you will, one stormy summer evening in 1949, as novelist and scientist C. P. Snow, Britain's distinguished wartime science advisor and author of The Two Cultures, invites four singular guests to a sumptuous seven-course dinner at his alma mater, Christ's College, Cambridge, to discuss one of the emerging scientific issues of the day: Can we build a machine that could duplicate human cognitive processes? The distinguished guest list for Snow's dinner consists of physicist Erwin Schrodinger, inventor of wave mechanics; Ludwig Wittgenstein, the famous twentieth-century philosopher of language, who posited two completely contradictory theories of human thought in his lifetime; population geneticist/science popularizer J.B.S. Haldane; and Alan Turing, the mathematician/codebreaker who formulated the computing scheme that foreshadowed the logical structure of all modern computers. Capturing not only their unique personalities but also their particular stands on this fascinating issue, Casti dramatically shows what each of these great men might have argued about artificial intelligence, had they actually gathered for dinner that midsummer evening.With Snow acting as referee, a lively intellectual debate unfolds. Philosopher Wittgenstein argues that in order to become conscious, a machine would have to have life experiences similar to those of human beingssuch as pain, joy, grief, or pleasure. Biologist Haldane offers the idea that mind is a separate entity from matter, so that regardless of how sophisticated the machine, only flesh can bond with that mysterious force called intelligence. Both physicist Schrodinger and, of course, computer pioneer Turing maintain that it is not the substance, but rather the organization of that substance, that makes a mind conscious.With great verve and skill, Casti recreates a unique and thrilling moment of time in the grand history of scientific ideas. Even readers who have already formed an opinion on artificial intelligence will be forced to reopen their minds on the subject upon reading this absorbing narrative. After almost four decades, the solutions to the epic scientific and philosophical problems posed over this meal in C. P. Snow's old rooms at Christ's College remains tantalizingly just out of reach, making this adventure into scientific speculation as valid today as it was in 1949.
SPECIAL 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION —THE MOST IMPORTANT AND INFLUENTIAL SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL OF THE PAST TWO DECADES
Twenty years ago, it was as if someone turned on a light. The future blazed into existence with each deliberate word that William Gibson laid down. The winner of Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards, Neuromancer didn't just explode onto the science fiction scene—it permeated into the collective consciousness, culture, science, and technology.
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New York Times bestselling author William R. Forstchen brings a sequel to his hit novel One Second After. Months before publication, One Second After was cited on the floor of Congress as a book all Americans should read, a book discussed in the corridors of the Pentagon as a truly realistic look at the dangers of EMPs. An EMP is a weapon with the power to destroy the entire United States in a single act of terrorism, in a single second; indeed, it is a weapon that the Wall Street Journal warns could shatter America. One Second After was a dire warning of what might be our future…and our end. Now, One Year After returns to the small town of Black Mountain, and the man who struggled so hard to rebuild it in the wake of devastation-John Matherson. It is a thrilling follow-up and should delight fans in every way.
William Gibson, author of the extraordinary multiaward-winning novel Neuromancer, has written his most brilliant and thrilling work to date . . .The Mona Lisa Overdrive. Enter Gibson's unique world–lyric and mechanical, erotic and violent, sobering and exciting–where multinational corporations and high tech outlaws vie for power, traveling into the computer-generated universe known as cyberspace. Into this world comes Mona, a young girl with a murky past and an uncertain future whose life is on a collision course with internationally famous Sense/Net star Angie Mitchell. Since childhood, Angie has been able to tap into cyberspace without a computer. Now, from inside cyberspace, a kidnapping plot is masterminded by a phantom entity who has plans for Mona, Angie, and all humanity, plans that cannot be controlled . . . or even known. And behind the intrigue lurks the shadowy Yazuka, the powerful Japanese underworld, whose leaders ruthlessly manipulate people and events to suit their own purposes . . . or so they think.
When hackers seize the world governments everything changed for all of humanity. A new sense of hope arrived in the streets and young people everywhere embraced the new world order. However, what appeared to be a new found freedom soon turned out to be a new tyranny far worse than anything they imagined. William Waltz formed part of the new elite that guarded the regime, that is, until the regime turned on him.