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Edizione originale

Autore: Sidney Perkowitz
Titolo: Digital People: From Bionic Humans to Androids
Anno: 2004
Editore: Joseph Henry Press
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From Publishers Weekly
In ancient Greece and on modern drawing boards, humans have dreamt of changing the limits of mortality through androids, robots, automatons and cyborgs. Perkowitz, a professor of physics at Emory University, catalogues our millennia-long fascination in this ambitious book. The author is at his best illuminating the history of artificial life, starting with Talos, the bronze automaton created by Hephaestus in Greek myth, and touching on every fictional work that has shaped the genre. This ranges from R.U.R. (the 1921 play that coined the word robot) to Asimov's I, Robot, with plenty of room for The Terminator, Robocop and Commander Data. Perkowitz then creates a parallel history of what humans have been able to create, dwelling mostly on prosthetics and 18th-century automatons. The final chapters describe the fascinating robots currently under development, in a manner that reads like a Nova special. The writing is technical, not for the uncommitted reader, and the book bogs down when Perkowitz grapples with the problems of duplicating human perception and self-awareness by artificial means. This is not a philosophical treatise on the nature of the mind-body connection or an engineering manual. Perkowitz fills in the gaps between current knowledge and the philosophical problems posed by advanced artificial life with fantasy-like suppositions, interposing well-accepted philosophical arguments with those that Perkowitz acknowledges have been rejected by the philosophical community. Hence, as a history of humans' fascination with artificial life—both real and fictional—this book is informative. But for a roadmap to the future of robotics, look elsewhere.
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From Scientific American
Perkowitz, professor of physics at Emory University, takes the reader on an absorbing journey through the history of human efforts to duplicate human functions. Robots and artificial body parts represent the current level of achievement; the ultimate achievement may be artificial beings. Although "no one has yet made a completely autonomous being, or one that seems consistently and convincingly alive, or a bionic implant that improves human strength or wit ... there is no doubt that existing technology will carry us further along these paths." And eventually we must face some profound questions. "What is our purpose in making artificial or hybrid beings? What are our ethical responsibilities toward them and theirs toward us? Do we have anything to fear from intelligent and powerful nonhuman beings?"


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