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The Cambridge Quintet: A Work Of Scientific Speculation

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  176 ratings  ·  19 reviews
In this narrative tour de force, gifted scientist and author John L. Casti contemplates an imaginary evening of intellectual inquiry—a 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 ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 23rd 1999 by Basic Books (first published January 1st 1997)
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Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
I would like to have read it when I was smart enough, rather than now when I'm old enough.
Griffin Strain
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interesting read if you like philosophy and/or computational theory. Blends the styles of Platonic discourse with 20th century scientific ideology for an interesting discussion about the plausibility and implications of AI from the perspective of early AI philosophers and scientists.
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A quick and thought provoking read. Nothing new for readers already familiar with the issue in question (machine intelligence). But for anyone just beginning to dip in, provides an entertaining and edifying place to start. I'm in the former category but consider it a 5 star read for persons in the latter.
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
An sich eine hübsche und mutige Idee. Ein Dinner mit Wittgenstein, Snow, Turing, Schrödinger und Haldane. Über künstliche Intelligenz. Etwas bieder geschrieben, aber durchaus nicht unamüsant. Und auch frei von groben Fehlern. Chinese Room wird abgewandelt anachronistisch bemüht, aber das ist okay. Wittgenstein etwas arg ins Karrikaturhafte verdreht. Hätte ich nicht besser machen können. Darum aber noch lange nicht sehr gut.
Kurt Ronn
Jun 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
More interesting for the personalities at the dinner than the science. Too bad Alan Turing lived in a time when homosexuality was criminal in the UK. Imagine the work he might have completed if he lived another 40 years.
Peng He
May 14, 2019 rated it liked it
It's too late for me to be able to enjoy this book, not saying that the book is not excellent.
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: computer-science
Imagine that in 1949 novelist and scientific administrator C. P. Snow of "The Two Cultures" fame had invited physicist Erwin Schrödinger, philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, computer scientist Alan Turing and geneticist J. B. S. Haldane for a dinner and a conversation about artificial intelligence. Imagine that the invited scientists had been anachronistically familiar with Chomskyan linguistics and John Searle's Chinese Room experiment. What would they say?

Well, perhaps they would say that they
Michael Sump
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Cambridge Quintet: This is a novel that is centered on an imagined dinner conversation in 1948 between Alan Turing, Erwin Schroedinger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, J.B.S. Haldane, and C.P. Snow. The meeting is called by Snow to explore the possibility of science creating a “thinking machine” over an exceptional post-war dinner. It's an awesome read and an awesome meal. By the time brandy and cigars (Cuban, of course) are served, I was firmly in Turing's camp as he argues that if a computer can make ...more
Mario Incandenza
Potr mai un computer arrivare a pensare?

L'intelligenza artificiale , a mio avviso, la branca pi nobile dell'informatica essa incarna il tentativo da parte del genere umano di conferire ad un ammasso di silicio la possibili di affrontare problematiche fino ad oggi lasciate in appannaggio all'essere umano.

In questa fiction scentifica Casti riunisce allo stesso "tavolo" cinque mostri sacri della scienza del secolo scorso: Turing, Wittgenstein, Schrdinger, Snow e Haldane per dibattere sulla

Mar 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Billed as a work of "scientific speculation", The Cambridge Quintet presents the fictional account of a coversation between five real-life intellectual greats: Alan Turing (the mathematician who developped the first electronic computer), C.P. Snow (civil servant and physicist), J.B.S. Haldane (geneticist), Erwin Schrödinger (physicist), and Ludwig Wittgenstein (philosopher). The premise is that these minds met in 1949 to discuss the feasibility of making machines that can think.

This was a
Jun 12, 2014 is currently reading it
Starting this now, will see if it's as good as it looks. A fictional dinner party thrown by C.P. Snow, with guests Alan Turing, Erwin Schroedinger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, & J.B.S. Haldane. Turing vs. Wittgenstein with the others discussing thinking machines and if they can replicate or approach human cognition.

In the introduction Casti goes to great length to point out that he is writing 'scientific fiction' not 'science fiction' - (a) get over yourself (b) you aren't slumming it by writing
T Campbell
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A delightful thought experiment and one of my new favorite works of alternate history. It's mostly done in the Socratic style, so the thoughts are the stars of the show, but the historical "characters" seem to me accurately rendered, with attention paid to such things as style of speech. I felt a special pang when the book went into the cancer that Wittgenstein would have been suffering at the time, and the notion that this imagined meeting might have been among his last chances to be heard by ...more
Mar 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I was honestly surprised when I picked up this book for my class. I loved it. It was interesting and kept moving. All of the characters had consistent personalities and opinions that were presented in a way that was fun to read and easy to understand. The topic of discussion is very intriguing. This book will leave readers trying to sort out their own ideas and opinions about artificial intelligence following their completion of the book.
Kathy  Petersen
Casti's evening of imaginary conversation is a wide-ranging discussion of scientific topics, much of which I actually understood.

I am reminded, just briefly, of an old favorite - Van Loon's Lives - wherein Hendrick Van Loon invites historical characters to a series of dinners and takes the opportunity of discussing their lives and works.
Jun 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: summer-2012
the premise was great, but I think that the dinner guest got off topic a bit. The conversation about "what is thought", "what is human", was more than I was expecting in the book. I was hoping for more about the idea of the machine vs man discussion. But it is still a very interesting read.
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Really awesome overview of the whole AI discussion.
Made up in a really readable way.
Jul 21, 2010 marked it as to-read-4-would-like-to
It's not science fiction, it's science/fiction. This book looks fascinating, but I'm a bit reluctant after how much I hated The Age of Entanglement. Hopefully it doesn't fall into the same pattern.
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: hps, non-fiction
Moderately interesting concept, but mediocre execution and nothing here that hadn't been said better elsewhere.
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John L. Casti (born 1943) is an author, mathematician, and entrepreneur.

As a mathematician and researcher, Casti received his Ph.D. under Richard Bellman at the University of Southern California. He worked at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA, and served on the faculties of the University of Arizona, New York University and Princeton University, before moving to Vienna in 1973 to become one