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Stories about intelligent machines [message #114274] Tue, 17 September 2013 15:20
Originally posted by: @RUTGERS.ARPA,@SRI-CSL:eyal%wisdom.BITNET@UCB-VAX.A RPA
Message-ID: <396@topaz.ARPA>
Date: Sat, 26-Jan-85 15:47:04 EST
Article-I.D.: topaz.396
Posted: Sat Jan 26 15:47:04 1985
Date-Received: Mon, 28-Jan-85 04:37:45 EST
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Organization: Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, N.J.
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From: eyal%wisdom.BITNET@Berkeley (Eyal mozes)

> I heard from a friend about a movie or TV version of "The
> Adolescence of P1".  Does anyone know anything about it?  The book
> was about a system cracking program which gets loose in the net and
> eventually attains consciousness.  It was unusually accurate for
> this kind of thing, unlike, say, "Wargames".

"The Adolescence of P-1" is certainly NOT "unusually realistic". It is
devoid of any understanding of Artificial Intelligence, and presents a
wildly impossible story. Thomas Ryan obviously takes the "brute force"
approach to AI - the view that very large amounts of memory and
computational power are a sufficient condition for the creation of
intelligence. This view became obsolete long before the story was
written. Of course, it is better than "Wargames"; that's not saying

If you want a story about a machine which gets out of the control of
its creator and eventually attains consciousness, and if you want that
story to be realistic, even didactic, and at the same time an
interesting, suspenseful story, then obviously the book for you is
James P. Hogan's "The Two Faces of Tomorrow" (Byte's special issue on
Artificial Intelligence, vol. 6 no.  9 september 1981, contained an
article called "Science Fiction's Intelligent Computers", which was
devoted mainly to a review of "The Adolescence of P-1" and "The Two
Faces of Tommorow").

Another, more recent novel about machines attaining consciousness,
which is more speculative but still very realistic, is Hogan's most
recent novel (as far as I know; for someone who wants to keep up with
what's going on in SF, living in Israel can be VERY frustrating) and,
to date, his best: "Code of the Life Maker".

--------- Minor Spoiler Follows (only spoils first 15 pages) ---------

In "Code of the Life Maker", Hogan takes the "evolutionary" approach to
AI. The story starts with an automated robot-factory spaceship with
bugs in its software (the bugs were caused by radiation from a nearby
supernova) landing on Titan about a million years ago. The defects in
the robots it makes set in motion a Darwinian evolutionary process
(there is a very convincing, detailed explanation of how this happens)
which finally results in the emergence of intelligence.

------------------------ End Of Spoiler ------------------------------

Several contributors to SF-Lovers Digest gave very high (and justified)
praise to Forward's "Dragon's Egg" for its hard-core science. "Code of
the Life Maker" also deals with the subject of humanity's encounter
with a different form of life, and is just as scientifically
interesting; unlike Forward's book, however, it has a plot - a very
ingenious and suspenseful one - and deals with important philosophic
issues. (It also has some very childish political views, but these play
such a minor part that they don't detract from the book at all).

The one trouble with "Code of the Life Maker" is that, like all other
books by Hogan (or Forward), it doesn't have a real protagonist.
However, in the character which comes closest to being one, Karl
Zambendorf, we can find, for the first time in Hogan's novels, a good,
convincing, interesting character. Let us all hope that it's not the
last time.

        Eyal Mozes

        BITNET:                         eyal@wisdom
        CSNET and ARPA:                 eyal%wisdom.bitnet@wiscvm.ARPA
        UUCP:                           ..!decvax!humus!wisdom!eyal
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