Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind

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9780195136302: Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind
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In this compelling book, Hans Moravec predicts that machines will attain human levels of intelligence by the year 2040, and that by 2050, they will surpass us. But even though Moravec predicts the end of the domination by human beings, his is not a bleak vision. Far from railing against a future in which machines rule the world, Moravec embraces it, taking the startling view that intelligent robots will actually be our evolutionary heirs. "Intelligent machines, which will grow from us, learn our skills, and share our goals and values, can be viewed as children of our minds." And since they are our children, we will want them to outdistance us. In fact, in a bid for immortality, many of our descendants will choose to transform into "ex humans," as they upload themselves into advanced computers.

This provocative new book, the highly anticipated follow-up to his bestselling volumeMind Children, charts the trajectory of robotics in breathtaking detail. A must read for artificial intelligence, technology, and computer enthusiasts, Moravec's freewheeling but informed speculations present a future far different than we ever dared imagine.

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Review:

This is science fiction without the fiction--and more mind- bending than anything you ever saw on Star Trek. Moravec, a professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, envisions a not-too-distant future in which robots of superhuman intelligence have picked up the evolutionary baton from their human creators and headed out into space to colonise the universe.

This isn't anything that a million sci-fi paperbacks haven't already envisioned. The difference lies in Moravec's practical-minded mapping of the technological, economic, and social steps that could lead to that vision. Starting with the modest accomplishments of contemporary robotics research, he projects a likely course for the next 40 years of robot development, predicting the rise of superintelligent, creative, emotionally complex cyberbeings and the end of human labour by the middle of the next century.

After Moravec makes this point, his projections start to get really wild: robot corporations will take up residence in outer space with rogue cyborgs; planet-size robots will cruise the solar system looking for smaller bots to assimilate, and eventually every atom in the entire galaxy will be transformed into data-storage space, with a full-scale simulation of human civilisation running as a subroutine somewhere.

His last chapter, which mingles the latest in avant-garde physics with hints of Borges's most intoxicating metaphysical conceits, is a breathtaking piece of hallucinatory eschatology. Moravec concludes by reminding us that even the wildest long-range predictions about the technological future never turn out to be as unhinged as they should have been. -- Julian Dibbell, Amazon.com

Synopsis:

In this mind-bending new book, Hans Moravec takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride packed with startling predictions. For example, Moravec suggests that in the not-too-distant future, an army of robots will displace workers, causing massive, unprecedented unemployment. But then a period of very comfortable existence will follow, as humans benefit from a fully automated economy. And eventually as machines evolve far beyond humanity, robots will supplant us. But if Moravec predicts the end of the domination of human beings, his is not a bleak vision. Far from railing against a future in which machines rule the world, Moravec embraces it, taking the startling view that intelligent robots will actually be our evolutionary heirs. "Intelligent machines, which will grow from us, learn our skills, and share our goals and values, can be viewed as children of our minds." And since they are our children, we will want them to outdistance us. In fact, in a bid for immortality, many of our descendants will choose to transform into "ex humans" as they upload themselves into advanced computers. We will become our children and live forever.

This book charts the trajectory of robotics in breathtaking detail. A must read for artificial intelligence, technology and computer enthusiasts, Moravec's freewheeling but informed speculations present a future far different than we ever dared to imagine.

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Publisher: OUP USA, 1998
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