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Genesis Redux: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Artificial Life
     

Genesis Redux: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Artificial Life

by Jessica Riskin
 

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Since antiquity, philosophers and engineers have tried to take life’s measure by reproducing it. Aiming to reenact Creation, at least in part, these experimenters have hoped to understand the links between body and spirit, matter and mind, mechanism and consciousness. Genesis Redux examines moments from this centuries-long experimental

Overview



Since antiquity, philosophers and engineers have tried to take life’s measure by reproducing it. Aiming to reenact Creation, at least in part, these experimenters have hoped to understand the links between body and spirit, matter and mind, mechanism and consciousness. Genesis Redux examines moments from this centuries-long experimental tradition: efforts to simulate life in machinery, to synthesize life out of material parts, and to understand living beings by comparison with inanimate mechanisms.

Jessica Riskin collects seventeen essays from distinguished scholars in several fields. These studies offer an unexpected and far-reaching result: attempts to create artificial life have rarely been driven by an impulse to reduce life and mind to machinery.  On the contrary, designers of synthetic creatures have generally assumed a role for something nonmechanical. The history of artificial life is thus also a history of theories of soul and intellect.

Taking a historical approach to a modern quandary, Genesis Redux is essential reading for historians and philosophers of science and technology, scientists and engineers working in artificial life and intelligence, and anyone engaged in evaluating these world-changing projects.

Editorial Reviews

Art in America
Exceptionally satisfying food for thought.

— Nancy Princethal

Nature
The strength of Genesis Redux lies in its scholarship and range of topics. Clockworks, mechanical toys and their influence on biological concepts are presented in fascinating detail.

— Greg Bear

British Journal for the History of Science
These eclectic essays will entertain and educate. . . . This volume can be recommended to anyone interested in the history of artificial-life research, and the history of the life sciences more broadly.

— Jacob Stegenga

Rodney Brooks
“Each of the essays in this volume ranges widely across technical and philosophical domains. They examine both familiar automatons from throughout history and delight us with yet more that will likely be unfamiliar to most readers. But the real treat of the essays is how they will make Artificial Life researchers squirm as they recognize their own intellectual sleights of hand exposed for all to see. Those researchers and the Genesis Redux contributors are all ultimately interested in what it is that truly distinguishes us beings from other lumps of matter.”

Art in America - Nancy Princethal
"Exceptionally satisfying food for thought."
Nature - Greg Bear
"The strength of Genesis Redux lies in its scholarship and range of topics. Clockworks, mechanical toys and their influence on biological concepts are presented in fascinating detail."
British Journal for the History of Science - Jacob Stegenga
"These eclectic essays will entertain and educate. . . . This volume can be recommended to anyone interested in the history of artificial-life research, and the history of the life sciences more broadly."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226720838
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
02/15/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author


Jessica Riskin is associate professor of history at Stanford University and author of Science in the Age of Sensibility: The Sentimental Empiricists of the French Enlightenment, also published by the University of Chicago Press, and winner of the American Historical Association’s J. Russell Major Prize.
Riskin received her Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley.

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