Digital Soul: Intelligent Machines and Human Values

Digital Soul: Intelligent Machines and Human Values

by Thomas Georges
     
 

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Should the day come when intelligent machines not only make computations but also think and experience emotions as humans do, how will we distinguish the “human” from the “machine”? This introduction to artificial intelligence – and to its potentially profound social, moral, and ethical implications – is designed for readers with

Overview

Should the day come when intelligent machines not only make computations but also think and experience emotions as humans do, how will we distinguish the “human” from the “machine”? This introduction to artificial intelligence – and to its potentially profound social, moral, and ethical implications – is designed for readers with little or no technical background. In accessible, focused, engaging discussions, physicist and award-winning science writer Thomas Georges explores the fundamental issues: What is consciousness? Can computers be conscious? If machines could think and even feel, would they then be entitled to “human” rights? Will machines and people merge into a biomechanical race? Should we worry that super-intelligent machines might take over the world? Even now we continue to put increasingly sophisticated machines in control of critical aspects of our lives in ways that may hold unforeseen consequences for the human race. Digital Soul challenges all of us, before it’s too late, to think carefully and rationally about the kind of world we will want to live in – with intelligent machines ever closer by our sides.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Can computers think? What does that question mean? What might the answer portend for human values? Georges treats these questions-long mainstays of discussions among mathematicians, computer scientists, cognitive psychologists, ethicists, science fiction writers and philosophers-thoroughly, if derivatively, using illustrations from Star Trek and other popular science fiction books, television shows and movies. The first half of the book examines the idea of machine intelligence, then moves on to consciousness, emotions, neurosis and moral awareness. The conversation draws heavily on popular accounts by computer pioneers Marvin Minsky and Alan Turing, mathematician Roger Penrose and cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter. The second half of the book explores the social implications of computer intelligence, including whether machines will take over the world. Georges, a former research scientist at the National Bureau of Standards and the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences, bases this part on popular works by astronomer Carl Sagan and biologist Richard Dawkins, and several magazine articles. Essentially a summary of generally believed notions regarding the power of machines, illustrated with pop culture references, the book's strength lies in its blend of comprehensive coverage with straightforward prose. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813342665
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
10/04/2004
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.68(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Thomas M. Georges is a former research scientist at the National Bureau of Standards, the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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