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Silicon Second Nature: Culturing Artificial Life in a Digital World

Silicon Second Nature: Culturing Artificial Life in a Digital World Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Silicon Second Nature takes us on an expedition into an extraordinary world where nature is made of bits and bytes and life is born from sequences of zeroes and ones. Artificial Life is the brainchild of scientists who view self-replicating computer programsand#151;such as computer virusesand#151;as new forms of life. Anthropologist Stefan Helmreich's look at the social and simulated worlds of Artificial Lifeand#151;primarily at the Santa Fe Institute, a well-known center for studies in the sciences of complexityand#151;introduces readers to the people and programs connected with this unusual hybrid of computer science and biology.

When biology becomes an information science, when DNA is downloaded into virtual reality, new ways of imagining "life" become possible. Through detailed dissections of the artifacts of Artifical Life, Helmreich explores how these novel visions of life are recombining with the most traditional tales told by Western culture. Because Artificial Life scientists tend to see themselves as masculine gods of their cyberspace creations, as digital Darwins exploring frontiers filled with primitive creatures, their programs reflect prevalent representations of gender, kinship, and race, and repeat origin stories most familiar from mythical and religious narratives.

But Artificial Life does not, Helmreich says, simply reproduce old stories in new software. Much like contemporary activities of cloning, cryonics, and transgenics, the practice of simulating and synthesizing life in silico challenges and multiplies the very definition of vitality. Are these models, as some would claim, actually another form of the real thing? Silicon Second Nature takes Artifical Life as a symptom and source of our mutating visions of life itself.

Synopsis:

"Helmreich's analysisand#151;extensive, imaginative, rigorous, and insightfuland#151;promises to establish him as the cultural authority on A-Life. . . . He shows that, in the age of complexity, science simultaneously disenchants and re-enchants the world. . . . The book is written in a personal and engaging style . . . so full of ideas and interesting asides [that] Helmreich takes on the persona of a smart and well-informed tour guide of the A-Life world [with] an enviable ability to take very complex ideas and discuss them comprehensibly without simplifying them."and#151;Hugh Gusterson, author of Nuclear Rites

About the Author

Stefan Helmreich is Assistant Professor of Science and Society at New York University.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780520207998
Subtitle:
Culturing Artificial Life in a Digital World, Updated With a New Preface
Author:
Helmreich, Stefan
Publisher:
University of California Press
Location:
Berkeley :
Subject:
Philosophy
Subject:
Social aspects
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Research
Subject:
Anthropology
Subject:
Artificial Intelligence
Subject:
Computer simulation
Subject:
Biological systems -- Computer simulation -- Philosophy.
Subject:
Social Aspects - General
Subject:
General science
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20000829
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
22 illustrations
Pages:
330
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.88 in 1.04 lb

Related Subjects

Computers and Internet » Artificial Intelligence » Artificial Life
Computers and Internet » Artificial Intelligence » General
Computers and Internet » Computers Reference » Social Aspects » General

Silicon Second Nature: Culturing Artificial Life in a Digital World
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Product details 330 pages University of California Press - English 9780520207998 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
"Helmreich's analysisand#151;extensive, imaginative, rigorous, and insightfuland#151;promises to establish him as the cultural authority on A-Life. . . . He shows that, in the age of complexity, science simultaneously disenchants and re-enchants the world. . . . The book is written in a personal and engaging style . . . so full of ideas and interesting asides [that] Helmreich takes on the persona of a smart and well-informed tour guide of the A-Life world [with] an enviable ability to take very complex ideas and discuss them comprehensibly without simplifying them."and#151;Hugh Gusterson, author of Nuclear Rites
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