Re: Book Review -- Darwin Among the machines

Mark Baker (
Mon, 08 Jun 1998 22:54:05 -0400

At 02:01 PM 8/6/98 -0700, Lisa Dusseault (Exchange) wrote:
>Darwin Among the Machines
>Written by George Dyson (son of Freeman, brother of Esther)
>Mark already posted a glowing review of this book. I was a little
>disappointed in the book, so decided to write my own review. Mark, I don't
>disagree with your review -- there were many interesting ideas. But perhaps
>my expectations, and what I wanted to get out of the book, were out of line
>with what the book provided. I wanted good analysis and strong conclusions,

Oh yeah, I can definitely see that. But I knew going in that it was a
historic walk-through rather than pie-in-the-sky futurism.

George dropped me a note a few weeks after my FoRK post (he was
ego-surfing), and I asked him if he had read "Out of Control" (Kevin Kelly).

It turns out that he and Kevin had the same editor, and that both books
were written more or less simultaneously. He thought the books contrasted
each other well - his, a look back, and Kevin's, a look at the
current/future (though I still haven't finished it).

But I notice it's still online at;, part of a larger Kevin Kelly

>The problem of the major premise (evolution causing artificial
>intelligence), as I see it, is that selection pressure doesn't necessarily
>mean selection for intelligence. We like to believe, as humans, that
>intelligence is the pinnacle of evolution and therefore the primary goal,
>but it doesn't seem to be true: "survival" can be due to many other factors
>besides intelligence. Selective pressure is applied to computers and
>networks to make them more useful to us, not more intelligent.

Tell ya what Lisa. You bring me a living non-organic machine, and then
we'll chat about how intelligent it is. Deal? 8-)

I thought Dyson was speaking more on artificial *life*, not artificial
intelligence per se.

>You might want to borrow it from a library since it's more of an interesting
>read than a reference to keep around.

Certainly, but book shelves filled with reference material look kinda dry
(and for good reason).


Mark Baker.               CTO, Beduin Communications Corp
Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA