Darwin Among the Machines: The Evolution of Global by George B. Dyson

By George B. Dyson

George Dyson grew up on the Institute for complicated examine, the place such scientists as his father, Freeman Dyson, and John von Neumann laid the principles for the knowledge Age. From this vantage aspect, and with an exceptional forged of characters, Dyson strains the process the data revolution, illuminating the lives, paintings and ideas of visionaries who foresaw the improvement of man made intelligence, man made lifestyles, and the worldwide brain.

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Cells can reproduce but only molecules can replicate. In modern times, reproduction of cells is always accompanied by replication of molecules, but this need not always have been so. . Either life began only once, with the functions of replication and metabolism already present in rudimentary form and linked together from the beginning, or life began twice, with two separate kinds of creatures, one kind capable of metabolism without exact replication, the other kind capable of replication without metabolism.

I first asked myself whether life might not, after all, resolve itself into the complexity of arrangement of an inconceivably intricate mechanism," he recalled in 1880, retracing the development of his ideas. "If, then, men were not really alive after all, but were only machines of so complicated a make that it was less trouble to us to cut the difficulty and say that that kind of mechanism was 'being alive,' why should not machines ultimately become as complicated as we are, or at any rate complicated enough to be called living, and to be indeed as living as it was in the nature of anything at all to be?

19 Although fond of pointing out the "Erratum of the Erratum of the Errata of Taylor's Logarithms" in the Nautical Almanac for 1836, Babbage saw the creation of accurate tables as only one of many applications for his machine. Buxton related the genesis of Babbage's 40 Darwin Among the Machines idea: "It was whilst endeavouring to reconcile the difficulties involved in the several ideas of Leibnitz and Newton, that Mr. Babbage was led to . . consider the possibility of making actual motion, under certain conditions, the index of the quantities generated, in arithmetical operations.

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