From: Booklist, November 1, 1998

Moravec, Hans
ROBOT: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind
Oxford Univ. (240 pp.)
Nov. 1998
ISBN: 0-19-511630-5

Moravec is a pioneer designer of robots, and here extrapolates how their future--and humanity's--may evolve over the next century. With computer power increasing exponentially, Moravec regards the emergence of machine intelligence as inevitable, and, quite sanguine about the prospect, he clearly explains the software ideas that would allow it. Moravec opens with Alan Turing's seminal theories of computing and then describes the difficulties the first robot engineers encountered in getting simple robots to cross a room. Computers lacked common sense (and still do), but Moravec believes the monumental capacity of the future computer will allow it to create an ever more accurate, real-time simulation of its world. After outlining four possible generations of robots, culminating in "Exes" (ex-humans) that design and build themselves, Moravec releases his imagination and has them trooping off Earth, preserved as a nature refuge, and colonizing space in a Darwinian process. Moravec's vision, a bewildering but amazingly interconnected set of ideas, is enthusiastically presented and reasonably argued, and will captivate futurists.
-- Gilbert Taylor

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