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Mind Children

by Hans Moravec

Mind Children takes readers on a science fiction-like journey, that it is science, not fiction. Hans Moravec, the director of Carnegie Mellon University's Mobile Robot Laboratory, weaves Mind Children around the plot of human evolution. Unlike his intellectual predecessor Darwin, who speculated on the origins of life, Moravec formulates its future.

Mind Children explores the post-biological evolutionary path where people give way to technology. Moravec believes that our progeny will explore the cosmos, even after the stars and galaxies cool toward absolute zero. To do this, our descendants will need more sturdy enclosures and faster thought processes than those nature provided us. In Moravec's future, our heirs exist as entities of mergerconjoined egg and sperm replaced by the delicate formation of superintelligent devices by superintelligent devices.

We will learn, Moravec asserts, to supplement the search for artificial intelligence, with technology, placing human intelligence into a machine. We strive for too little with today's efforts to approximate humanity. Within 40 years computers will reach the computing power of the brain. By the year 2030, Moravec speculates, that computing power will be available in a $1000 personal computer. Moravec envisions evolution driven forward by technology. Our evolution to this point has allowed us the ability to create our own replacements. Once removed from the limitations of the human body and the human mind, our transplanted intelligence will be free to evolve and reinvent itself.

Mind Children rapidly ensnares the reader and focuses attention even on the lofty and the philosophical. Mind Children does not present a how-to guide for the mechanist evolution of humankind. The book does, however, represent a mental preparation for the almost inconceivable integration of people and their technology. Fortunately for us, Moravec has painted a conceivable portrait of this future.

(D. Rasmus)


Mind Children
The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence
Harvard University Press
1988, 214 pages. $18.95

graphic: Geof Darrow, Hard Boiled Graphic Novel

Here is the TEXT POPUP for Mind Children:

What awaits is not oblivion but rather a future which, from our present vantage point, is best described by the words postbiological or even supernatural.

It is unlikely that our superintelligent descendants will be satisfied with mere stumpy fingers. Consider the following observations. Worms and other animals shaped like balls or sticks are unable to manipulate or even locomote very well. Animals with legs (a stick with smaller, movable sticks) locomote quite well but they are still clumsy at manipulation. Animals like us, with fingers on their legs (sticks on sticks on stick), can manipulate much better. Now generalize the concepta robot that looks like a tree, with a big stem repeatedly branching into thinner, shorter, and more numerous twigs, ultimately ending in an astronomical number of microscopic ciliaÉA robot of this design could be self-constructing.

Many people today are alive because of a growing arsenal of artificial organs and other body parts. In time, specially as robotic techniques improve, such replacement parts will be better than any originals. So what about replacing everything, that is, transplanting a human brain into a specially designed robot body? Unfortunately, while this solution might overcome most of our physical limitations, it would leave untouched our biggest handicap, the limited and fixed intelligence of the human brain. This transplant scenario get our brain out of our body. Is there a way to get our mind out of our brain.


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Gareth Branwyn -

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