- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 4434.0 KB
- Print Length: 2393 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Machine Intelligence Research Institute (11 Mar. 2015)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00ULP6EW2
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #61,210 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Rationality: From AI to Zombies Kindle Edition
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I'm about a third through and I think the book could maybe have done with a tighter edit from the source material. Some of the topics in successive sections overlap and repeat a bit. BTW If you read while offline you'll miss out following many fascinating links.
The two bear close comparison. Both GEB and RAZ take the reader on an eclectic journey through science, art and philosophy, drawing on the tropes of Eastern philosophy as well as Western popular science. Both are borne of contemplation of artificial intelligence, but their subject is the human mind. Like GEB, each diversion in RAZ is fascinating in its own right, but each makes a real and important contribution to a central theme. Among other things RAZ discusses the mathematics of probability and decision making, the foibles of human psychology, evolution, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and the philosophy of reason, of mind and of morality. For both, the central theme is hard to describe briefly—in the preface to the 20th Anniversary edition of GEB Hofstadter describes his difficulties getting the New York Times to use a description that was not “utter hogwash”, while Yudkowsky can only offer that after years of study “it may be that you will glimpse the center”. Both are at times intellectually demanding. GEB is a large book; at 1800 pages organised into six books, RAZ is over twice the length, with a word count similar to The Lord of the Rings.
Both are works of tremendous originality and wit. GEB is undoubtedly the greater work of beauty; while Yudkowsky is an excellent writer few if any can match the extraordinary fireworks of Hofstader’s wordplay. Conversely, RAZ surpasses it in all of clarity, range, and depth.
It’s not without its flaws; it takes a while to really get started, and not all readers enjoy Yudkowsky’s Eastern nods. But RAZ also surpasses GEB in an area Gardner does not name: importance. While the nature of consciousness is a subject of endless fascination, RAZ’s drive to help us properly shift our views in response to evidence and make better decisions in the face of uncertainty given only the flawed instrument that is our brain could not be of more crucial importance.
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