Witty and provocative this is a great guide for a general audience - a kind of 'Zen Guide' to artificial life that is based not on the debunking or de...moreWitty and provocative this is a great guide for a general audience - a kind of 'Zen Guide' to artificial life that is based not on the debunking or debasing of life but rather in its elevation to its proper place.
Grand is perhaps most widely known as the creator of "Creatures" the first computer game (circa 1997) based on the concept of artificial life but he is also a researcher in the field. In this book he lightly touches on the game but mainly he gives us a great tour of the main concepts of artificial life as he romps through a variety of prerequisite subjects from an introduction of cybernetics (the science of communication and control) through ideas about emergence and the necessity of balance in nature.
Along the way he evokes our thinking about concepts that are often unexplored or even taken for granted by many of us -- such factors as matter, mind, free will, and the nature of persistent systems are all areas where the reader can gain new insights which in turn lead to questions about how we define life and what it might mean to create artificial life that is intelligent.
As with all good books, this one leaves us with broader horizons and more exciting questions and unknowns than we had before we encountered it. Its well worth the read!
As for myself, I simply have to find out the directions and findings of the author's research since he wrote this book so I've put Grand's more recent book, Growing Up With Lucy: How to Build an Android in Twenty Easy Steps , on my wish list and will likely end up special ordering it rather than just hoping it shows up in my favorite haunts.... (less)