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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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text 2014-07-12 01:52
Library haul - I need to start clearing these out....
Fiction First Aid - Raymond Obstfeld
Bullies, Bastards And Bitches: How To Write The Bad Guys Of Fiction - Jessica Page Morrell
Cybersexualities: A Reader in Feminist Theory, Cyborgs and Cyberspace - Jenny Wolmark
The Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America's Schools - Jessie Klein
Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk & Postmodern Science Fiction -
Roustabout: A Fiction - Michelle Chalfoun
How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection - David F. Dufty
Feedback: The Communication of Praise, Criticism, and Advice (Language As Social Action) - Robbie Sutton
Cyberbullying: Bullying in the Digital Age - Robin M. Kowalski,Susan P. Limber,Patricia W. Agatston

Had some of these for a while, and I'm going to try to tackle the ones that are due first.


I had checked out a bunch of materials on bullying, cyberbullying, and literary criticism/feedback a while back to write a post, but I ended up archiving it because I felt like it was saying some of the same things I'd already said in some capacities.  I still want to read some of these books though as food for thought, so I'll let you guys know how they go.  They seem like very interesting reads. 

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text 2014-04-24 00:15
Reads from my university library
How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection - David F. Dufty
Organizing from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life - Julie Morgenstern
Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk & Postmodern Science Fiction -

I know Grim will probably like a few of the books mentioned in this post, but I grabbed a few books from my university library since I filed for checkout privileges and got approved.  I expect there will be more, since I definitely plan to put as much mileage to my uni library as I possibly can.


I wasn't going to say anything about it until now because I wanted to get settled first, but I just recently started another position at my uni and I'm really enjoying the people and work so far. (*happy dances*)  My training and getting adjusted for the position is part of the reason why I've been in and out of my book communities and not getting through as many books as I would like, but now that I'm acclimated, I'm hoping to get back to a normal flow for reviews and reading.


Plus I'm almost to 50K for Camp NaNo.  So I've been keeping on my toes with multiple things.

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review 2013-04-05 00:00
Losing the Head of Philip K. Dick: A Bizarre But True Tale of Androids, Kill Switches and Left Luggage - David Dufty Jamás pensé que le fuera a dar esta nota a este libro xDDDDD intentaré hacer una reseña no-express en el blog, que me apetece mucho comentarlo :3
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review 2013-03-04 00:00
How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection - David F. Dufty Rating: 3.5* of fiveThe Book Description: In late January 2006, a young robotocist on the way to Google headquarters lost an overnight bag on a flight somewhere between Dallas and Las Vegas. In it was a fully functional head of the android replica of Philip K. Dick, cult science-fiction writer and counterculture guru. It has never been recovered.In a story that echoes some of the most paranoid fantasies of a Dick novel, readers get a fascinating inside look at the scientists and technology that made this amazing android possible. The author, who was a fellow researcher at the University of Memphis Institute of Intelligent Systems while the android was being built, introduces readers to the cutting-edge technology in robotics, artificial intelligence, and sculpture that came together in this remarkable machine and captured the imagination of scientists, artists, and science-fiction fans alike. And there are great stories about Dick himself—his inspired yet deeply pessimistic worldview, his bizarre lifestyle, and his enduring creative legacy. In the tradition of popular science classics like Packing for Mars and The Disappearing Spoon, How to Build an Android is entertaining and informative—popular science at its best.My Review: ANOTHER year-old LibraryThing Early Reviewers win! Oh the shame, the shame!If you don't know who Philip K. Dick is, well first of all what are you doing being friends with me, and second, this book will read like a novel whose main joke is about something you don't understand. Like "ain't nobody got time for that" if you've never seen the memes.I read this book with a sort of befuddled sensation. I liked it, I even thought young Dufty was a decent prose stylist. But, I kept wondering, why on earth does this book need to exist? Twenty-six United States dollars for a 250-page exploration of the whys and wherefores of an android that no longer exists, can't be seen and therefore exists only in descriptions such as this that will make more sense to geeks than to thee and me. (Well, me anyway.)Dick casts a long shadow in our world, Blade Runner and A Scanner Darkly and Total Recall being among the movies made from his bleak, unsettlingly predictive fiction. He was a weird man, he wrote weird books, and thought strange thoughts that were way far out in front of the culture. Pretty much nailed it, though, did our Phil. It makes reading his work strangely current.But here, Dufty (who was a bit player at best and a bystander if we're honest) tells of the obsessive fascination Dick has for the seriously geeky boffins who spend their paid work hours trying to make SF in to reality. It is astonishing to me that they get paychecks for doing this stuff. They'd do it for free, sleep in the office and eat Cheetos and hot dogs, you just know they would so long as the parts bin is open and the computers come on when they need them. It's a slightly disturbing sensation to watch the boys (all males, natch) play in the sandbox and create something so (apparently, it's vanished so you and I will never know) lifelike because they just want to.I am interested in the way our material culture is manipulated and massaged and transformed by science's application to technology. If you are too, this book will keep the pages turning. If you're a Dickian cultist, this book will make for some riveting reading. Absent those interests, there are better ways to spend your eyeblinks and your spondulix.
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