Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence

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Harvard University Press, 1988 - Computers - 214 pages
2 Reviews

Imagine attending a lecture at the turn of the twentieth century in which Orville Wright speculates about the future of transportation, or one in which Alexander Graham Bell envisages satellite communications and global data banks. Mind Children, written by an internationally renowned roboticist, offers a comparable experience-a mind-boggling glimpse of a world we may soon share with our artificial progeny. Filled with fresh ideas and insights, this book is one of the most engaging and controversial visions of the future ever written by a serious scholar.

Hans Moravec convincingly argues that we are approaching a watershed in the history of life-a time when the boundaries between biological and postbiological intelligence will begin to dissolve. Within forty years, Moravec believes, we will achieve human equivalence in our machines, not only in their capacity to reason but also in their ability to perceive, interact with, and change their complex environment. The critical factor is mobility. A computer rooted to one place is doomed to static iterations, whereas a machine on the prowl, like a mobile organism, must evolve a richer fund of knowledge about an ever-changing world upon which to base its actions.

In order to achieve anything near human equivalence, robots will need, at the least, the capacity to perform ten trillion calculations per second. Given the trillion-fold increase in computational power since the end of the nineteenth century, and the promise of exotic technologies far surpassing the now-familiar lasers and even superconductors, Moravec concludes that our hardware will have no trouble meeting this forty-year timetable.

But human equivalence is just the beginning, not an upper bound. Once the tireless thinking capacity of robots is directed to the problem of their own improvement and reproduction, even the sky will not limit their voracious exploration of the universe. In the concluding chapters Moravec challenges us to imagine with him the possibilities and pitfalls of such a scenario. Rather than warning us of takeover by robots, the author invites us, as we approach the end of this millennium, to speculate about a plausible, wonderful postbiological future and the ways in which our minds might participate in its unfolding.

 

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User Review  - Miro - LibraryThing

Hans Moravec is director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory of Carnegie Mellon University and has spent his time from his days as a graduate student investigating artificial intelligence. Specifically he ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Read this over 20 years ago, and again this week. One of the few books (e.g. GEB) that blew my mind, and really has not aged a bit. Outstanding Read!

Contents

Prologue
1
Figures
18
Autonomous Navigation
33
Powering Up
51
The Retina
52
Symbiosis
75
ENIAC
76
Unreal EstateThe Road to Point Reyes
92
Computer Virus Blowup
130
Breakout
147
Spacetime Pyramid
156
Retinas and Computers
163
Measuring Computer Power
169
The Outer Limits of Computation
178
Think Therefore I Am
180
Bibliography
197

Grandfather Clause
100
The Corpus Callosum
113
Wildlife
125
Robot Pals
202
Acknowledgments
203
Copyright

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About the author (1988)

Hans Moravec is known for his work on robotics and artificial intelligence, and his writings on the impact of technology.

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