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Genesis Redux: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Artificial Lifeby Jessica Riskin
Synopses & Reviews
Since antiquity, philosophers and engineers have tried to take life’s measure by reproducing it. Aiming to reenact Creation, at least in part, these experimenters have hoped to understand the links between body and spirit, matter and mind, mechanism and consciousness. Genesis Redux examines moments from this centuries-long experimental tradition: efforts to simulate life in machinery, to synthesize life out of material parts, and to understand living beings by comparison with inanimate mechanisms.
Jessica Riskin collects seventeen essays from distinguished scholars in several fields. These studies offer an unexpected and far-reaching result: attempts to create artificial life have rarely been driven by an impulse to reduce life and mind to machinery. On the contrary, designers of synthetic creatures have generally assumed a role for something nonmechanical. The history of artificial life is thus also a history of theories of soul and intellect.
Taking a historical approach to a modern quandary, Genesis Redux is essential reading for historians and philosophers of science and technology, scientists and engineers working in artificial life and intelligence, and anyone engaged in evaluating these world-changing projects.
Jessica Riskin is associate professor of history at Stanford University and
Table of Contents
Introduction: the Sistine gap / Jessica Riskin — The imitation of life in ancient Greek philosophy / Sylvia Berryman — The devil as automaton: Giovanni Fontana and the meanings of a fifteenth-century machine / Anthony Grafton — Infinite gesture: automata and the emotions in Descartes and Shakespeare / Scott Maisano — Abstracting from the soul: the mechanics of locomotion / Dennis des Chene — The anatomy of artificial life: an eighteenth-century perspective / Joan B. Landes — The homunculus and the mandrake: art aiding nature versus art faking nature / William R. Newman — Sex ratio theory, ancient and modern: an eighteenth-century debate about intelligent design and the development of models in evolutionary biology / Elliott Sober — The gender of automata in Victorian Britain / M. Norton Wise — Techno-humanism: requiem for the cyborg / Timothy Lenoir — Nanobots and nanotubes: two alternative biomimetic paradigms of nanotechnology / Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent — Creating insight: Gestalt theory and the early computer / David Bates — Perpetual devotion: a sixteenth-century machine that prays / Elizabeth King — Motions and passions: music-playing women automata and the culture of affect in late eighteenth-century Germany / Adelheid Voskuhl — An archaeology of artificial life, underwater / Stefan Helmreich — Booting up baby / Evelyn Fox Keller — Body language: lessons from the near-human / Justine Cassell.
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