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John Markoff - Machines of Loving Grace Print E-mail
Friday, 07 July 2017
Far from the cybernetic meadow that Richard Brautigan saw in his poem All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace the intelligent machines that can merge with us are not yet here. In his book, Markoff -a technical journalist- tried to address the convergence of natural and artificial intelligence (hence the subtitle "The quest for common ground between humans and robots"). However, he failed. The book, while interesting reading, is a mere compilation of AI people's personal histories. The technical content is minimal and the distillation f the "common ground" is totally missing. However it is worth reading to see the ambient and economics of the AI community since its origins to the present day of Google's PageRank and Apple's Siri.

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Machines of Loving Grace. The quest for common ground between humans and robots

John Markoff

Ecco - Harper Collins
378 pages
2015

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Value for time: 7

Main value: AI History; easy reading

Last Updated ( Saturday, 08 July 2017 )
 
C.J. Bond - Biology and the new physics Print E-mail
Sunday, 27 December 2015
The book Biology and the new physics : a plea for a consistent philosophy of life" by C. J. Bond contains an edited version of the address given by Bond at the Centenary Meeting of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society on 7th October, 1935. It contains an analysis of the impact that the recent discoveries in quantum physics concerning the question of determinism in physics would have on a theoretical biology founded upon a basement of physics. In essence it is an argumentarium to keep old thoughts on free will and the role of God in the creation of the universe. He does so by means of a vision about how the intrinsic indeterminacy of matter -as postulated by quantum mechanics, and seen as the source of mental freedom- is constrained by an environment that overimposes a deterministic behaviour.

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Biology and the new physics : a plea for a consistent philosophy of life

Bond, Charles John,

H. K. Lewis & co. ltd., London
64 pages
1936

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Value for time: 6

Main value: Transdisciplinarity; foundations; big themes

Last Updated ( Monday, 28 December 2015 )
 
Robert Rosen - Anticipatory Systems Print E-mail
Saturday, 25 January 2014
In this book Robert Rosen tries to elaborate on the mathematical foundations of theoretical biology, trying to offer a framework that puts inner modelling at the core of anticipatory behaviour that is, for him, one of the keystones of living systems. The book was conceived in the 70s and was published for the first time in 1985. The 2nd edition -this one- is from 2012, with some additional content from his followers and his daughter. The book tries to be mathematical -Rosen was a mathematician-biologist- using category theory and dynamical systems to describe the way living systems relate to their environment -using a modelling relation-and can anticipate in it. In essence it claims for a new foundation for mathematical biology that transcends dynamical systems theory -claimed to be inefficacious- offering mechanisms for addressing biological complexity to formalise what he later called relational biology.

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Anticipatory Systems; Philosophical, Mathematical, and Methodological Foundations, 2nd Ed.

Robert Rosen

Springer
472 pages
2012

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Value for time: 7

Main value: Transdisciplinarity; abstraction

Last Updated ( Sunday, 21 December 2014 )
 
Buckminster Fuller - Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth Print E-mail
Saturday, 25 January 2014
This is the written, elaborated version of a conference that Fuller gave to the American Planners Association. In this book he analyzes the technological history of humanity to reach the conclusion that the knowledge gained and the technological power so obtained lets us -forces us- to properly manage the earth as a large, self-supporting spaceship. The work is valuable reading due to the yet valid analysis concerning the nature of weatlh and the proper political methods to deal with it.

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Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth

R. Buckminster Fuller

Simon and Schuster
144 pages
1969

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Value for time: 6

Main value: Out-of-the-box

 
von Bertalanffy - General System Theory Print E-mail
Sunday, 07 May 2006
This is the revised edition of von Bertalanffy recollection of thoughts on General Systems Theory. This book gathers a collection of previous publications on the topic of GST. These publications address the potentiality of such a theory in science at large but, specifically, it is more focused on the role it can play in the biological sciences.

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General Systems Theory Revised Edition

Foundations, Development, Applications

Lodwig von Bertalanffy

George Braziller
295 pages
1969
ISBN 0-8076-0453-4

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The book describes the motivations and main topics of GST and addresses the role it can play in a collection of domains as a general scaffolding for unification and holism.

This is a very readable and interesting book that must be put in the historical perspective to understand its motivations and the reasons behind its limited impact beyond the small circles of biological cybernetics.

The book does not provide a GST -at least understood in the engineering sense of "theory"- but just discuss, repetitively, some of the core topics of such a theory. While the book includes concrete mathematical examples of systems models, they are limited to small biological phenomena. Precision is lacking at the level of the high abstractions that would constitute the basement of a GST.

The book shall be read for its motivational value and for setting an opening into a roadmap towards a true GST.

Value for time: 7

Main value: Research, Motivational

Last Updated ( Saturday, 20 October 2012 )
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