BOOK: Moravec's "Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind"
Wed, 25 Nov 1998 17:30:02 EST

Hans Moravec's new book "Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind" is an update on his 1988 "Mind Children". The first part of the book is an interesting personal account of Moravec's involvement in the early history of robotics and AI. Moravec then walks through the same basic ideas he expounded in "Mind Children", but with more detail regarding the four generations of robotic entities he envisions between now and 2040, the point at which he puts the development of human-level, and then quickly super-human-level robots and AIs. The last part of the book seemed a little out of place, as Moravec demonstrates that he has a basic knowledge of current theories of physics and cosmology and then essentially lays out the kinds of very speculative ideas regarding levels of interpretation of simulations and for embedding computational machines in wormholes that Greg Egan makes more entertaining in "Permutation City" and "Diaspora".

Overall, I recommend this short, nontechnical book as a good historical document of the AI field and statement of the state of the art, but with some misgivings about the highly speculative last third of the book.

 	Greg Burch     <>----<>
	   Attorney  :::  Director, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
	           "Good ideas are not adopted automatically.  They must
	              be driven into practice with courageous impatience." 
                                    -- Admiral Hyman Rickover