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Search tags: Artificial-Intelligence
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review 2017-05-09 18:40
Sculpting the future
How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection - David F. Dufty

Longtime readers of the blog will recall that I've had a certain fear fascination with robots and A.I or Artifical Intelligence. You can check out my posts about books like Our Final Invention which details the growth artifical intelligence into super intelligence or In Our Own Image which is a thought experiment about what the evolution of AI will look like in the future to get an idea of what I mean. Today's book is somewhere in the middle. How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection by David F. Dufty covers the creation of a robotic incarnation of the famous sci-fi author which (according to its creators) has the ability to learn as it communicates with humans i.e. it is self-aware. The novelty of this machine was that it was created in the image of a man who was known for his paranoia about 'thinking' machines and that it was an artistic as much as technological acheivement. This book chronicled the creation of the android from its inception including the sculpting of the head and body by Dr. David Hanson through to its programming by Andrew Olney. (Not to mention the many volunteers from the FedEx Institute of Technology in Memphis who logged many hours helping to make this dream a reality without any compensation.) The PKD android was a sensation among scientific circles as well as among laypeople because of his realistic facial features, expressions, and his seemingly intelligent responses to questions. However, I am not convinced that he would have passed the Turing Test which proves that he was a self-aware artificially intelligent machine. Moreover, I found this book was lacking in many areas. Each of the chapters seemed to end without any real resolution and the ending fell flat. Also, one of my pet peeves is a nonfiction book without any endnotes or at the very least a bibliography and this one committed that sin. Overall, I'd say that this book would appeal to someone who hasn't done any significant research into this field and wants to dip their toe into that world but for me it didn't make the grade. 5/10

 

If you want to see the PKD android in action then you can check out the Hanson Robotics website. Be forewarned, if the idea of a seemingly artificially intelligent machine with human-like characteristics freaks you out then you shouldn't go to that website. To see what I mean, take a look at the pictures below. *shudder*

 

Source: Ascend Surgical

 

Source: Philip K. Dick Android Project

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-04-23 15:50
Finished my reread of Queen of Roses
Queen of Roses - Elizabeth McCoy

I just spent four months rereading this, mostly while in line at the grocery store and such. My review from back when I first read it in 2014 still stands. The main things I'd add are that the fluffy "dealing with passengers" stuff in the beginning of the book still meshed a bit oddly with the later more action-y stuff. Also, while

the things Loren did still bugged me

(spoiler show)

, I couldn't help it, I still loved that character. I had also forgotten how much I liked R.J. And I still want to read some kind of spin-off or sequel with Loren and Roger. A combination sci-fi and cozy mystery starring those two would be so good.

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url 2017-03-29 19:28
Storybundle: Artificial Intelligence (!!!)

I haven't looked at it yet, so for all I know nothing in it will appeal. But I'll be looking at it more closely later, just in case! As far as I know, I've never read any of the authors included in the bundle, although I've at least heard of a few of them.

 

ETA - Whoops, not quite accurate. I've read William Gibson before, and one of his works is included in one of the anthologies.

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url 2017-02-28 01:22
Tor.com - "An A.I. That Loves Cat Pictures: Hugo-Winning Short Story Becomes YA Novel"

Ooh, I'm interested. But also a little wary. I remember mostly enjoying "Cat Pictures Please," although I cringed at the forced outing of a gay pastor because "Out gay men are much happier."

 

Crossing my fingers for more A.I. goodness and less "wait, I know you mean well, but stop."

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review 2017-02-05 15:00
Biblical Review
Biblical by Galt, Christopher (2014) Hardcover - Christopher Galt

Biblical screwed with my head on so many levels. SO many. It’s been a while since I read a book took me by surprise. Even longer since I’ve read one that took me by surprise on multiple occasions. Craig Russell, writing as Christopher Galt, delivers what can only be called a tour de force with Biblical.

 

I didn’t love Biblical from start to finish as I was reading it. There were a few times while reading it that I was sure that he was going to disappointment. There were some red herrings early on that had me rolling my eyes. Luckily he only spent as much time with them as he needed to before returning to the story proper. There was even one point early on when I walked away from the story for a few days because I thought there was no way it was going to be saved from the corner it felt like he was writing into. But I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. Because soon after, it kicked into straight up Inception-level screwiness. And when it was over, I found myself sitting back and staring at the Audible app in admiration.

 

Biblical was also a hard book for me to rate. I know I just called it a tour de force, and overall it is. It would have been very easy for this book to fail horribly.  It took some serious skill to keep it from spiraling down into a hot mess. Russell avoids that, but he doesn’t quite succeed at avoiding all the issues. At the same time, whether some of them are truly issues is actually debatable. For example, there is basically no character development in this book.

 

I can see where lots of people might have a problem with the lack of character development. For me, though, it wasn’t an issue. I didn’t really care about MacBeth or anyone else. I cared about the puzzle Russell was laying out. I think everyone’s experienced deja vu at some point in their life. Biblical’s whole plot seems to be based around “Well, what if it’s not just in your head?” except for the part where its hard to tell what, exactly, is in your head. And then there’s the ethics of creating an artificial intelligence and the exploration of the powers of belief, amongst other things. Biblical grabs so many of the higher-level questions that I love to ponder on occasion, and draws them into the story in a way that kept me hooked.

 

For a book that’s all about humanity – earth’s – ‘been there, done that’, Biblical is unlike anything I’ve read in… well, ever. I honestly can’t think of a book I could compare it to.  The only thing I would possibly change about the book is the name because I’m sure there are many others that shied away from it because of the fear it would be some Second Coming shtick in the end. (I’m happy to report it definitely wasn’t.) Yeah, it has its issues, but the pros far, far outweigh the cons.

Biblical is a must read /listen. (Ray Porter narrates it, so my vote is for listen, of course!)

Source: www.scifiandscary.com/biblical-review
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