|The Third Culture||
. . . a unique, authoritative exercise in extrapolation, easily understood
yet stunning in scope . . . Anyone looking for a head-bending excursion
beyond the cutting edge of science will find ample thought-provoking
material in this outstanding book."
adventurous and free with confident futuristic speculations."
"...a dramatic, awe-inspiring prophecy of the human future by Hans
Moravec, computer scientist and robotics guru extraordinaire . . .
an uncompromisingly radical synthesis of sociobiology, computer science,
and philosophy . . . paints a head-bending but persuasive picture
of our next 50 years, augmented with fascinating fragments from the
more distant future."
reader will want to miss out on Moravec's clairvoyant perception of
Like little ripples on the surface of a deep, turbulent pool, calculation and other kinds of procedural thought are possible only when the turbulence is quelled. Humans achieve quiescence imperfectly by intense concentration. Much easier to discard the pesky abyss altogether: ripples are safer in a shallow pan. Numbers are better manipulated as calculus stones or abacus beads than in human memory.
AND PUDDLES [7.26.00]
Hans Moravec has been thinking about machines thinking since he was a child in the 1950s, building his first robot, a construct of tin cans, batteries, lights and a motor, at age ten. In high school he won two science fair prizes for a light-following electronic turtle and a tape-controlled robot hand.
As an undergraduate he designed a computer to control fancier robots, and experimented with learning and automatic programming on commercial machines. During his master's work he built a small robot with whiskers and photoelectric eyes controlled by a minicomputer, and wrote a thesis on a computer language for artificial intelligence. He received a PhD from Stanford in 1980 for a TV-equipped robot, remote controlled by a large computer, that negotiated cluttered obstacle courses.
Since 1980 he has been director of the Carnegie Mellon University Mobile Robot Laboratory, birthplace of mobile robots deriving 3D spatial awareness from cameras, sonars, and other sensors.
His books consider the future prospects for humans, robots and intelligence. He has published many papers in robotics, computer graphics, multiprocessors, space travel and other speculative areas.
HANS MORAVEC is a Principal Research Scientist in the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University and the author of Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence, and Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind.
Computers were invented recently to mechanize tedious manual informational procedures. Such procedures were themselves invented only during the last ten millennia, as agricultural civilizations outgrew village-scale social instincts. The instincts arose in our hominid ancestors during several million years of life in the wild, and were themselves built on perceptual and motor mechanisms that had evolved in a vertebrate lineage spanning hundreds of millions of years.
Bookkeeping and its elaborations exploit ancestral faculties for manipulating objects and following instructions. We recognize written symbols in the way our ancestors identified berries and mushrooms, operate pencils like they wielded hunting sticks, and learn to multiply and integrate by parts as they acquired village procedures for cooking and tentmaking.