Simon & Schuster
April 10, 1994
The idea of building intelligent machines has fascinated scientists and laypeople for centuries. But progress has been much slower than everyone predicted thirty-five years ago when artificial intelligence and robotics first emerged. Although computers can crunch numbers at staggering speeds, so-called “thinking machines” have achieved very little ability – outside of highly restricted domains such as chess – to reason in useful or interesting ways, or even to do simple things that children can manage easily, such as recognizing faces or moving through a room without bumping into furniture.
But now a new approach to artificial intelligence promises to break that logjam. Brainmakers is an account of the revolutionary research taking place around the world, aimed at creating devices that are more like living brains than computers. David H. Freedman introduces us to the adventurous researchers leading this new field, as well as to their creations, including:
- A robot farm where robots will be “bred” for intelligence
- A jar full of chemicals that can recognize patterns, and act like a primitive life-form
- A machine that experiences human-like brainwaves and mental disorders
- A new form of computer chip fashioned out of living brain cells
In colorful detail David H. Freedman shows how this radically new research has moved into a realm that transcends computer science, combining neuroscience, microbiology, evolutionary biology, and zoology. Brainmakers is the first account of the latest developments in this exciting area of science and technology.
David H. Freedman is a contributing editor to Discover magazine, and a regular contributor to Science, Forbes ASAP, CIO, and Self. He has also written for The Boston Globe, The Boston Globe Magazine, The Washington Post, Inc., and The Harvard Business Review. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.