Auburn, WA, United States | Member Since 2008
This is a MUST read for anyone interested in AI or, for that matter, pure human psychology. Christian (who, by the way, does a fine job of narrating!) presents, with StevenPinkeresque style and wit, the reasons why the computer, as it becomes stronger and stronger in the ways of logic and computation, ironically becomes farther removed from us rather than more like us. He helps to shake away the still clinging prejudices left over from the Age Of Reason and makes us aware that being a "creature-computer interface" is not such a bad thing, that the emotional, "irrational" part of us is a good bit of what makes us---well, us! All of this in a rich tapestry of science, case histories and personal anecdotes which makes for a very enlightening and enjoyable read. This is the best writing on the human mind I have read since Pinker's How The Mind Works, which would serve as a great companion to this book.
Sidenote: 10/8/2012 I took on several on of noted on-line bots, like Cleverbot and A.L.I.C.E., and was not at all impressed. They might be able to fake surface small talk or even argue (as long as it is in insult and not in reasonable debate)--but sustaining conversation on a topic, wondering, showing genuine insight or awe--I would never mistake them for a human at the other end.
Metaxas' fine books on Bonhoeffer (my personal hero) and William Wilberforce, two men who really need to be known by just everyone. This book includes mini-biographies of seven great men, including these two, men who sacrificed personal grandeur and power for the greater good. This book is like an hor dorvers tray which should whet your appetite for more on all of these seven figures in history. Certainly do read Metaxas' books on Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce. If you have not come across them before, you will wonder that you hadn't heard of such forceful figures in the history of the world. (The two or three reviews here that scream about RELIGION! as though it were social kriptonite illustrate the exact reason why our society needs to know about great men like those in this book--sacrificing oneself for a great cause, and forbid! a religious one--is now considered stupid and passe. That is a sad truth about what we have become.)
for someone who has read nothing on the topic. For anyone familiar with work on trust and morality by writers like Pinker, Wright, and Trivers, you are going to find a lot of familiar road: the Prisoner's Dilemma, computer simulations of moral behavior, the Tit for Tat model of moral behavior. With this book, as with those by the neo-Darwinians, one does get a little tired of the "evolutionary" idea that morality is always on shifting sands, depending on the moment, and that people are always subconsciously, or consciously gauging what they can get away with and only acting morally when there is a chance of getting caught--discounting the very idea that someone could have hard-held moral principles outside of the wager on whether or not he would ever be found out.
of Brizendene's book on the female brain. Both books do a great job of exploring how hormones and brain structures tend boys and girls in different directions. These are science books and not just venus-mars pop stuff, but they are written to be understood by the layman. Read them together.
Feminism and Marxism preached that there was no such thing as human nature or difference in the genders outside of what the environment determined. Recent brain science has proven that to be incorrect. Brizendine's book is a thorough and scientific explanation of how hormones and brain structures incline a human to have those wonderful and sometimes confounding traits we call "feminine."
by many to vote down positive reviews of books like this tells the tale: Darwin and his theory are on the way out, disproved by modern biology, but Dawkins and his band of followers are going down only in an ideological shoot out, the truth notwithstanding. Read this along with the works of Michael Behe and Philip Johnson's Darwin On Trial.
The Edge Of Evolution, which will give you the detailed science behind the argument against Darwinian macro-evolution before you read the coordinated logical problems with Darwin's theory, which are presented in this book. Johnson's presentation is clear and thoughtful and logical, and simply points out what the macro-evolutionists can no longer hide: Darwin's theory of the ultimate origin of life simply doesn't work. (The rapidity with which Dawkins' little trolls rush in to give negative votes to positive reviews of such books as this shows how scary the truth can be. Vote away!)
to take away from Behe's work is that hegemony is not only possible in religion and politics, but in the scientific community as well. Perhaps that is simply a part of human nature (evolved, designed or otherwise), but be that as it may, scientists have for too long guarded the Darwinian evolution model as a holy text, unwilling to allow other theories to enter the scene. There is much to lend credit to Behe's version of Intelligent Design, and one cannot accuse him of "Creationism in disguise," as he advocates no particular Designer, but merely points out the weaknesses in the idea that all came about by the blind, random procress preposed by Darwin and protected with slavering viciousness by Dawkins and company far too long. Remember the end of the movie Inherit the Wind, when Drummond leaves the courtroom clasping a Bible and Darwin's Origin together? Try to have this kind of open minded approach to this book. It is an alternate theory, flawed and incomplete, but then, so is Darwin's evolution, and science is supposed to be about examining ALL the facts, right? So let's give ID a chance. It will not take us back to the Middle Ages, as Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and Dennett might suggest. We are smarter than that, and we can intelligently consider what this theory has to offer.
I read this book after Tina Beattie's penetrating critique of the new atheists, a growing group led by the ill informed and ego driven Dawkins. Berlinski's book drives deeper into the problems of the atheist militants, and the hard clear logic presented here shows the political and personal motives, not to mention the gross contradictions and inconsistencies, of a new wave of non believing fundamentalists. A must read for a thinking person.
of the obvious problem with the "New Atheists," led by their messiah (one has to love the irony in the book's cover) Richard Dawkins, namely, that their entire approach is based on two false assumptions: 1) all theists are radical, fundamentalist, literalist nutjobs, and 2) science and theology are naturally, diametrically opposed to one another. She also makes the very obvious point that the spurious battle waged by the not so fab four Huxley wannabes (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and the dearly departed Hitchins--and one might throw in the late coming Lawrence Krasse as the fifth Beatle, I suppose): it's much more political than scientific. Beattie cuts through the cosmic bologna here and shows that science and religion are not the mortal enemies Dawkins and company pretend in order to force their agenda.
one of the great theologians of our day. Here he addresses the materialism that has invaded not only our lives but religion as well. Read this fine work along with Ross Douthat's Bad Religion: How We Became A Nation Of Heretics
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