Dyson does Munchkins

Mark Baker (markb@mrburns.iosphere.net)
Mon, 28 Jul 1997 13:01:02 -0400 (EDT)

I just finished reading 'Darwin Among the Machines' by George Dyson
while on vacation. Quite a book.

While discussing SAGE, Paul Baran, Ricochet, increasing the
effective capacity of the wireless spectrum by reducing range, etc..
Dyson writes;

"... Life as we know it is composed of small, cellular units not because
larger units are impossible to build, but because smaller,
semi-autonomous units are faster, cheaper, easier to program, and easier
to replace. Animals have become larger, but cells have stayed small.
Everything in one of the lunch boxes could coalesce into a single
component, a microcommunicator that, if produced in similarly large
quantities as microprocessors, might cost as much to package as to make.
A telepathic, subvital unit. All the economies that Baran demonstrated
by adaptive message-block switching over microwave links between defense
command centers are applicable to exchanging data directly between
microprocessors. The ultimate decentralization of network architecture
is for every processor to become a node."

Other interesting snippets;

"If bandwidth begins to match the internal processing power of individual
nodes in a communication network, individuality begins to merge"

"Probably the closest parallel structure to the Internet is the free
market economy" - Baran - an oldie, but a goodie. Dyson covers
"reciprocal action" of money, value, and bits quite well.

"As we 'tune' our model, so to speak, that is, make the whole and the
components resemble patterns of performance observable in real life, then
the adequacy of the specific parametric values imposed on Leviathan will
come to behave more like a real society both in its components and as a
whole" - Rome and Rome, 1962

A brilliant book. Better than GEB in many ways.

I just found another book in the store called "Connected Intelligence",
by the (ex?) director of the McLuhan project (starts with a 'K' maybe?).
Yet I can't find reference to it at Amazon. Anybody familiar with it?


Mark Baker, Ottawa Ontario CANADA.                Java, CORBA, OpenDoc, Beans
distobj@acm.org mbaker@nortel.ca               http://www.iosphere.net/~markb

Too many dinosaurs, too few meteors - Seyma Atik