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Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe (2012)

av George Dyson

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,0573319,260 (3.54)15
"Legendary historian and philosopher of science George Dyson vividly re-creates the scenes of focused experimentation, incredible mathematical insight, and pure creative genius that gave us computers, digital television, modern genetics, models of stellar evolution--in other words, computer code. In the 1940s and '50s, a group of eccentric geniuses--led by John von Neumann--gathered at the newly created Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Their joint project was the realization of the theoretical universal machine, an idea that had been put forth by mathematician Alan Turing. This group of brilliant engineers worked in isolation, almost entirely independent from industry and the traditional academic community. But because they relied exclusively on government funding, the government wanted its share of the results: the computer that they built also led directly to the hydrogen bomb. George Dyson has uncovered a wealth of new material about this project, and in bringing the story of these men and women and their ideas to life, he shows how the crucial advancements that dominated twentieth-century technology emerged from one computer in one laboratory, where the digital universe as we know it was born"-- "Legendary historian and philosopher of science George Dyson vividly re-creates the scenes of focused experimentation, incredible mathematical insight, and pure creative genius that gave us computers, digital television, modern genetics, models of stellar evolution--in other words, computer code"--… (mer)
  1. 00
    ENIAC: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer av Scott McCartney (nillacat)
    nillacat: Well-researched and well-told histories of early computers and the fascinating people who designed and built them.
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» Se även 15 omnämnanden

engelska (31)  danska (1)  spanska (1)  Alla språk (33)
Visa 1-5 av 33 (nästa | visa alla)
A promising book, in which the level of details about "characters" and events is too detailed for the average reader, causing the book to fail in keeping its promises of constructing an accessible history of the origins of computers. It's more for the connaisseur than for the newbie. ( )
  d.v. | May 16, 2023 |
A very detailed and dragging history of the early computers, told through the lens of Alan Turing, John von Neumann (especially him), and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Less breezy and interesting than, say, Gleick's The Information, which cover some of the same ground. The capsule biographies are neat, but the sheer number of "characters" begins to confuse. The detail of early computer structure, programming, and usage is boggling. Still, as a historian I appreciated some of the impact these folks have and how it fit into the history of the time. If I was more oriented toward engineering and computer science, and had appreciable skills in such areas, maybe I would find it way more interesting and smooth. Still, an important book for understanding our computer-oriented world. ( )
  tuckerresearch | May 6, 2022 |
Confusing, rambling, and not a very interesting book about the "origins of the digital universe". Bits and pieces may have been moderately interesting, but as a total package, it didn't measure up for me. ( )
  rsutto22 | Jul 15, 2021 |
Not too bad but the last third has so much hand waving I had to put on a sweater--- either that or I didn't understand a bloody thing he was saying. Actually probably the second thing. ( )
  frfeni | Jan 31, 2021 |
Title should read "Von Neumann machines: The human stories". You're welcome dear publisher.

I hope you've already read and know the history of the creation of the computer because this book dispenses with all that nonsense and instead concentrates on absolutely inconsequential trivia. Parties, social interactions, immigration issues, divorces, building houses, fixing cars and all kinds of irrelevant waffle that is day to day life pushing to the side exploding nuclear bombs.

It's nice to see the background to the revolution and I appreciate it but it's like a misfocused photo where the face is completely blurry but by god that concrete wall behind the subject has razor sharp detail. I cannot but feel frustrated every time the author wraps up the technical side with a glib and borderline misleading paragraph (as it's glossing over any and all details) only to waste the rest of the chapter recounting sleeping arrangements and letter writing. I care about those things too but not that much. ( )
  Paul_S | Dec 23, 2020 |
Visa 1-5 av 33 (nästa | visa alla)

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It was not made for those who sell oil or sardines . . .
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At 10:30 P.M. on March 3, 1953, in a one-story brick building at the end of Olden Lane in Princeton, New Jersey, Italian Norwegian mathematical biologist Nils Aall Barricelli inoculated a 5-kilobyte digital universe with random numbers generated by drawing playing cards from a shuffled deck.
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A fine line separates approximation from simulation, and developing a model is the better part of assuming control. So as not to shoot down commercial airliners, the SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) air defense system that developed out of MIT’s Project Whirlwind in the 1950’s kept track of all passenger flights, developing a real-time model that led to the SABRE (Semi-Automatic Business Related Environment) airline reservation system that still controls much of the passenger traffic today, Google sought to gauge what people were thinking and became what people were thinking, Facebook sought to map the social graph, and became the social graph. Algorithms developed to model flucutuations in financial markets gained control of those markets, leaving human traders behind. “Toto,” said Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”           What American termed “artificial intelligence” the British termed “mechanical intelligence,” a designation that Alan Turing considered more precise. We began by observing intelligent behavior (such as language, vision, goal-seeking, and pattern-recognition) in organisms, and struggled to reproduce this behavior by encoding it into logically deterministic machines. We knew from the beginning that this logical, intelligent behavior evident in organisms was the result of fundamentally statistical, probabilistic processes, but we ignored that (or left the details to the biologists), while building “models” of intelligence-with mixed success.           Through large-scale statistical, probabilistic information processing, real progress is being made on some of the hard problems, such as speech recognition, language translation, protein folding, and stock market prediction – even if only for the next millisecond, now enough time to compete a trade. How can this be intelligence, since we are just throwing statistical, probabilistic horsepower at the problem and seeing what sticks, without an underlying understanding? There’s no model. And how does a brain do it? With a model? These are not models of intelligent processes. They ARE intelligent processes.
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"Legendary historian and philosopher of science George Dyson vividly re-creates the scenes of focused experimentation, incredible mathematical insight, and pure creative genius that gave us computers, digital television, modern genetics, models of stellar evolution--in other words, computer code. In the 1940s and '50s, a group of eccentric geniuses--led by John von Neumann--gathered at the newly created Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Their joint project was the realization of the theoretical universal machine, an idea that had been put forth by mathematician Alan Turing. This group of brilliant engineers worked in isolation, almost entirely independent from industry and the traditional academic community. But because they relied exclusively on government funding, the government wanted its share of the results: the computer that they built also led directly to the hydrogen bomb. George Dyson has uncovered a wealth of new material about this project, and in bringing the story of these men and women and their ideas to life, he shows how the crucial advancements that dominated twentieth-century technology emerged from one computer in one laboratory, where the digital universe as we know it was born"-- "Legendary historian and philosopher of science George Dyson vividly re-creates the scenes of focused experimentation, incredible mathematical insight, and pure creative genius that gave us computers, digital television, modern genetics, models of stellar evolution--in other words, computer code"--

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