RE: Book Review -- Darwin Among the machines

Lisa Dusseault (
Tue, 9 Jun 1998 09:29:44 -0700

After seeing your recommendation for "Out Of Control", I checked out some of
the reviews. I couldn't help laughing out loud at this sentence from one of
Amazon's reader reviews:

"Sure, the idea that a higher intelligence can emerge from a network of
lower organisms, as a hive emerges out of a swarm of bees, can be a
liberating one; as if maybe millions of bored drones keystroking in their
cubicles, contrary to what common sense and Dilbert will tell you, are
collectively making something brilliant. "

Now I have to read it.

Go Borg!


-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Baker []
Sent: Monday, June 08, 1998 7:54 PM
To: Lisa Dusseault (Exchange); ''
Subject: Re: Book Review -- Darwin Among the machines

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
>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

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
>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
>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