Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software

Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software

3.0 3
by Steven Johnson
     
 

ISBN-10: 068486875X

ISBN-13: 9780684868752

Pub. Date: 09/28/2001

Publisher: Scribner

In the tradition of Being Digital and The Tipping Point, Steven Johnson, acclaimed as a "cultural critic with a poet's heart" (The Village Voice), takes readers on an eye-opening journey through emergence theory and its applications. Explaining why the whole is sometimes smarter than the sum of its parts, Johnson presents surprising examples of feedback,

Overview

In the tradition of Being Digital and The Tipping Point, Steven Johnson, acclaimed as a "cultural critic with a poet's heart" (The Village Voice), takes readers on an eye-opening journey through emergence theory and its applications. Explaining why the whole is sometimes smarter than the sum of its parts, Johnson presents surprising examples of feedback, self-organization, and adaptive learning. How does a lively neighborhood evolve out of a disconnected group of shopkeepers, bartenders, and real estate developers? How does a media event take on a life of its own? How will new software programs create an intelligent World Wide Web?

In the coming years, the power of self-organization -- coupled with the connective technology of the Internet -- will usher in a revolution every bit as significant as the introduction of electricity. Provocative and engaging, Emergence puts you on the front lines of this exciting upheaval in science and thought.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684868752
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
09/28/2001
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.37(w) x 9.57(h) x 0.96(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Here Comes Everybody!11
Part 1
1The Myth of the Ant Queen29
Part 2
2Street Level73
3The Pattern Match101
4Listening to Feedback130
5Control Artist163
Part 3
6The Mind Readers195
7See What Happens227
Notes235
Bibliography265
Acknowledgments275
Index279

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Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Steven Johnson's "Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software" (Scribner, New York, 2001) is a very bad book, shallow, careless, and disappointing. I was lured by its nominal subject, which interests me greatly, and now I'm sorry I bought it. Mr. Johnson is a young¿ very young¿ video gamer who has managed to parlay a superficial aquaintance with the vocabulary of modern science into a series of popular books, incomprehensibly praised by such authorities as Steven Pinker and Esther Dyson. The book opens with a fraudulent pictorial simile, juxtaposing a side view of the human brain and a map of Hamburg ca. 1850. Indeed they do resemble each other, and the reader is supposed to infer (with no help from Johnson) that the resemblance arises from the operation of similar governing principles. Quite apart from the validity of this conclusion, it apparently does not trouble Johnson that the brain is three-dimensional and the city map is essentially two-dimensional, or that the comparison would fail if a frontal view of the brain had been chosen, or if a view of Paris or El Paso or Denver had been chosen instead of Hamburg. It gets worse. At the most fundamental level, after reading the book I find it impossible to say what the author means by "emergence", his nominal title. When he discusses ant colonies it appears to mean swarm intelligence; when he discusses video games it appears to mean interactive software; at still other places it appears to mean whatever recent developments in the realm of computers or biophysics or city planning that he approves of. Moreover, he appears to be totally ignorant of all science and mathematics that preceded his own adolescence. Although he has a great deal to say about self-organizing systems, you will search the index in vain for the names of John Conway, Oskar Morgenstern, John von Neumann, Stanislaw Ulam, Stephen Wolfram, or most of the other pioneers of the field. When he does recognize a figure from antiquity (i.e., pre-1970), it is with worshipful adulation. He italicizes the name of Marvin Minsky as if he were a demigod, and finds a book by Norbert Wiener "curiously brilliant". What exactly is the curiosity?¿ that a brilliant scientist should write a brilliant book? Likewise, you will find no entry in the index under "Boolean networks" or "cellular automata" or "crystallization" or "ferromagnetism." Under "entropy" you will find only the ludicrous assertion that in nonequilibrium thermodynamics "the laws of entropy are temporarily overcome." In short, Mr. Johnson gives new meaning to the phrase "born yesterday," a degree of ignorance and juvenile solipsism that borders on arrogance
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago