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The Cambridge Quintet

On sale

3rd December 1998

Price: £9.99

Selected:  Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349108537

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By 1949, the idea of duplicating human thought processes in a computer was starting to surface, as the outgrowth of code-breaking work done by Alan Turing and others in Britain during the Second World War.

This ingenious work of speculative scientific fiction reconstructs what might have been said during the animated conversation flowing around Snow’s rooms that fateful in Cambridge.

The quintet’s debate anticipates all of the basic questions which have surrounded artificial intelligence in the fifty years since. Can a machine think or merely process information? Is the brain simply a symbol-processing machine, as Turing suggests, and if so, what is the nature of meaning? Can there be, as Wittgenstein proposes, no thought without language, and no language without the social interaction of human beings?


Enthralling, fascinating, Casti not only captures the excitement, but makes the ideas he relates intelligible to the layman.
Casti has organised a satisfying meal ... when the party breaks up, and Schrodinger compliments his colleagues on the stimulating nature of their discussion, his sentiments will probably be shared by many readers too
Thought-provoking ... Snow himself might well have approved
Great fun: a dramatic and accessible introduction to the provocative modern field of artificial intelligence
Bryan Appleyard, NEW STATESMAN
These are difficult and important issues and it is to Casti's credit that his book explains them more clearly and concisely than any other I have read