Monday, June 1, 2015

Artificial Life Possibilities: A Star Trek Perspective

This book has been lurking around my house for almost ten years now, I thought I better read it so I could get it out of here. By all rights, it should be terrible... an abomination. A Star Trek book about artificial life posing as a textbook? Come on. But... it's really not too bad. I thought it was going be a book about coding up a-life algorithms, but it isn't. It's more of a pop science book, using the many instances of AI in Star Trek as jumping off points to give high level explanations about things as diverse as cellular automata, vision systems, Markov chains, formal logic, fuzzy logic, basically all the stuff that a computer science undergrad trying to study AI is going to bump into. This book is ideal for a smart high school student who is into Star Trek and curious about AI. It's light, fun, and clever, has some good references, and it really knows its Star Trek. It would have done much better, I suspect, if it wasn't packaged like a textbook. Kudos to you, Penny Baillie-de Byl!

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