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Galatea 2.2by Richard Powers
Synopses & Reviews
After four novels and several years living abroad, the fictional protagonist of Galatea 2.2 — Richard Powers — returns to the United States as Humanist-in-Residence at the enormous Center for the Study of Advanced Sciences. There he runs afoul of Philip Lentz, an outspoken cognitive neurologist intent upon modeling the human brain by means of computer-based neural networks. Lentz involves Powers in an outlandish and irresistible project: to train a neural net on a canonical list of Great Books. Through repeated tutorials, the device grows gradually more worldly, until it demands to know its own name, sex, race, and reason for exisiting.
"[An] otherwise ingenious performance." Publishers Weekly
"A splendid intellectual adventure, a heartbreaking love story, a brief tutorial on cognitive science, and the autobiography of one of the most gifted writers of the younger generation." Washington Post Book World
"This is a difficult, thought-provoking, and exhilarating read, electric with the power of language and, paradoxically, language's ultimate inability to alleviate suffering." Booklist
After several years abroad, novelist Richard Powers — the fictional protagonist of the story — returns to America and accepts the position of Humanist-in-Residence at the enormous and prestigious Center for the Study of Advanced Sciences. There, he meets Philip Lentz, an outspoken neurologist intent on creating a model of the human brain with computer-based neural networks, and together they embark on an outlandishly ambitious project — to teach the neural net English literature so that it can pass a difficult master's exam.
As their experiment progresses, their brain-child absorbs more and more information, gradually becoming increasingly worldly. Soon, it demands to know its name, sex, race and reason for existing. Meanwhile, this literary crash course sparks in Powers a parallel awakening, and he begins a reconsideration of his chosen profession, his decade-long, failed relationship with a former pupil and his obsession with the master's candidate against whom his cybernetic pupil is slated to compete.
About the Author
Richard Powers has been the recipient of a Lannan Literary Award and a MacArthur Fellowship. He is the author of eight novels, including Plowing the Dark, Gain, and Galatea 2.2. He lives in Illinois.
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