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The Turing Option [Paperback]

Harry Harrison , Marvin Minsky
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

12 Oct 1992
The world's foremost authority on artificial intelligence had almost perfected a machine capable of spontaneous thought, when industrial terrorists steal his research and shatter his brain with a bullet. Now one surgeon must try to save him using his patient's own research.

Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (12 Oct 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670831271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670831272
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,988,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars harry does a clarke 1 May 2004
By sitegod
harry tries, and i personally think, suceedes to do a novel in the style of Mr A.C.Clarke. it is very technical and a little bit long winded but conveyed a very good story very very well. I normally read harry because it is an easy read and very entertaining as well as being quite funny but this is a totally different affair which i think was very good. At the time of writing there are used copies in the market place for only 1p!! Well below what i think this is worth! For the sake of a penny give it a go and if you like it try reading some of his other book they are all, in my opinion, GREAT.
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More educating than entertaining 27 April 2002
Although apparently a collaboration between Minsky (obviously an expert in cybernetics, and the related future trends) and Harrison (the renowned Sci-Fi and Fantasy writer), there is very little evidence of any trace of Harrison here at all.
Whilst the story is tidy enough, there is none of the humour or general swagger associated with much of Harrison's work, and indeed vast swathes of the book resemble articles from some trade periodical forecasting how cybernetics will change. This often shows up as pages of actually quite tedious "too-much-information", and doesn't do the storyline (weak as it is) much good.
Certainly, if you are looking for a work of fiction that covers the software aspect of Artificial Intelligence, and the hardware of man- machine interface, then this is a good enough book.
If you're looking for a Harry Harrison book, try another title.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.3 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Conduit for Minsky's Opinions and Theories 8 Jan 1999
By Milind S. Pandit - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the worst book I have read in a long time. It seems primarilya conduit for the authors' opinions and theories, masked as a hi-techindustrial espionage mystery. The characters seem conceived by adolescents. They are consistently unlikeable, uninteresting, and unchanging, serving primarily to voice arguments that Minsky has only slightly more completely addressed in his previous book, The Society of Mind. The inane and boring plot shows a glimmer of promise at the very end for two reasons: One is a betrayal that is unexpected only because it appears in this otherwise flat book. The other is a one-page encounter with the only character who is even mildly interesting.
The pointed descriptions of everyday use of technology now being researched at the MIT Media Lab is distracting. The authors use grammar that is adulterated by the frequent, jarring, annoying omission of the subjects of sentences, both in the narrative as well as human and robot dialogs. This type of writing has the pretense of revolutionary style, while really exposing a complete lack of expressiveness.
If you want to know Minsky's theories about AI as well as his opinions on a wide range of subjects, you will find The Society of Mind far more thought-provoking and interesting than this book. If you want a simply but clearly articulated vision of the future as suggested by the work at MIT's Media Lab, read Nicholas Negroponte's Being Digital. If you want entertaining and surprising science fiction about robots, read Isaac Asimov's short stories. Read them by the light of a fire, and fuel it with The Turing Option. END
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A.I. - Absolutely Intriguing 3 May 2000
By Anthony Hinde - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As far as I know this novel is the only collaboration between Harry Harrison and Marvin Minsky. And given the quality of this book I find that truly sad. Harrison is of course one of the most prolific writers in the field of Science fiction and Minsky is a scientist with MIT, working in the area of A.I., who is more used to writing scientific articles than fiction. The two together bring a great story to life in an extremely believable way.
The "Turing Option" is set in the near future and concentrates on the experiences of a brilliant scientist who has just suffered a major brain trauma. His own cybernetic researches help doctors to bring him back to life and allow him to pursue his murderers. This pursuit leads him back to his research into artificial intelligence which it seems was the motivation behind the first attack.
The plot and story telling, whilst top notch, are not what prompted me to include the book on this page. No, it was the A.I. or M.I. (Machine Intelligence), that I became fascinated with. As far as I am concerned, the concept of a robotic entity has never been explored so well as in this novel. (yes I have read all of Asimov's robot stories). If you are at all interested in this area of science, then this book must be read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unfathomably Bad 22 April 2007
By L. Wick - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Harrison's a pretty good SF writer and Minsky is a leader in AI, so this seemed a good bet. Not so. The writing is wooden, mechanical and impersonal. All of the characters talk the same and we have to rely on the authors to tell us what each of them is like. Which often comes as a surprise. 15 years is a long time for any book that centers on computer technology, so one wouldn't expect this to have aged well. But consider: Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is from 1962, this from 1992. Heinlein's book is fresh and thought provoking, this one is just boring. The computer ideas aren't really very interesting and, really, Minsky should have known better. So how can you have the right ingredients and have such a lousy result? I got this used and very cheap. It's still a waste of time. Alas.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too bad, it had potential 21 Jan 2000
By - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I picked this one up at a second hand book shop -- Harry Harrison and Marvin Minsky? Wow, how could I go wrong!
Unfortunately, the ideas are not backed up by very solid storywriting here. Very little characterization is used, and the interaction comes across as somewhat dull and empty. None of the characters seem much to act realistically to what happens to them, except possibly Shelly, and Brian's personality never seems consistent.
As for the ideas, most are predictable and very straightforward extrapolations. The mecahnics of the AI is interesting, but comes across at times almost as textbook lecture, and many of the other more interesting ideas are left undeveloped.
Well folks, this is just my comments. Personally, I was disappointed somewhat by the book, but didn't consider it a collossal waste, either.
Your Mileage May Vary
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I didn't wait long enough... 30 Jan 2005
By Linquel - Published on
I own this book. If you open the cover and look inside it says "Christmas 1992. You better read this so I can borrow it." Thirteen years later I took this book off my shelf, dusted it off, and read it. All I can say is, I didn't wait long enough. This book could have been pretty good. I kept expecting a twist or surprise that never happened. It just kind of plodded along and then ended. Granted, technology has been chugging along so maybe some of it felt a little dated. But the characters just didn't engage me at all. I even enjoyed Prey more than this book (I think I even reviewed it here at Amazon) and that says a lot. I guess I'll put this back on my shelf with the other hardcovers. Or better yet, I'll mail it to my friend and force him to keep his promise and read it. Why should I suffer alone?
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