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Great Mambo Chicken And The Transhuman…
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Great Mambo Chicken And The Transhuman Condition: Science Slightly Over… (edição: 1991)

de Ed Regis

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380650,138 (3.84)7
Enter the gray area between overheated imagination and overheated reality, and meet a network of scientists bent on creating artificial life forms, building time machines, hatching plans for dismantling the sun, enclosing the solar system in a cosmic eggshell, and faxing human minds to the far side of the galaxy. With Ed Regis as your guide, walk the fine line between science fact and fiction on this freewheeling and riotously funny tour through some of the most serious science there is.… (mais)
Membro:jfvirey
Título:Great Mambo Chicken And The Transhuman Condition: Science Slightly Over The Edge
Autores:Ed Regis
Informação:Basic Books (1991), Paperback, 320 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition: Science Slightly over the Edge de Ed Regis

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Mostrando 1-5 de 6 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
This is out of date now ( 1990 ) The net has made this kind of book not very useful anymore ( but it would have been in 90 ) ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
This is out of date now ( 1990 ) The net has made this kind of book not very useful anymore ( but it would have been in 90 ) ( )
  BakuDreamer | Sep 7, 2013 |
My reactions upon reading this book in 1991.

Regis' fast-paced style has enough wit to make this book funny and lend just the right amount of incredulity and sarcasm. Many of the ideas of these supremely confidant, hubristic thinkers are not that new to an sf reader, even one who doesn't specifically search out these speculations or hard sf. About the only new ideas I heard were the engineering of suns and ways to beat the heat death and proton-decay of the universe. The rest -- cryonics, mind-machine transfers, artificial life, memes, nanotech, non-rocket space drives, space colonies, macro engineering -- I'd all been exposed to before, mostly in sf.

Indeed the link between sf and these ideas are strong. These scientists often are fans of sf, some even writers, of it. And most of these ideas were first proposed in sf and the attempt to realize them motivated by sf. Others have, as all outrageous scientific ideas do, motivated sf. L-5 space colonies are a prime example. Cryonics seems to have developed a postive feedback loop with sf. Of course, these ideas have a willing audience in sf circles. (Hans Moravecs ideas seem to be realized in detail in Philip C. Jennings who, while I have no conclusive proof, seems knowledgeable about Moravec.)

Regis manages to constantly shift his story from topic to topic, scientist to scientist, back and forth while making it completely clear. The book is obviously arranged from the hubris of escaping earth's gravitational well without governmental help (well, actually it starts with the hubris of Evel Knievel trying to jump the Snake River Canyon) to the hubris of trying to escape the death of the universe. Many of the characters are fascinating especially robochauvinist Hans Moravec, the man who would be computer. Moravec's schemes (and similar ones) are one of the few ideas I have trouble with. I have serious doubts (given the subtle interplays of chemistry, genetics, environment, and its seemingly chaotic organization) that the brain can be encoded in program form. And even it it could there's the frightening, to me, question: is the copy really you? I also had trouble with some of the examples of artificial life. Using the metaphor of life seems useful -- especially with memes, but I feel there should be some blob of matter associated with the life. Maybe I'm wrong.

Moravec wants to tamper with the stuff of humanity: the body, mind, and intellect. Is is silly to regret leaving the mortal coil ("putting away childish things" as Paul said) and its delights but terrible limitations and weaknesses Moravec is, in some sense, right in resenting the cravings of the body even though we find their satisfaction, well, satisfying. Why want to struggle to do things as a mere human? Will friendship, love survive the transformation. (And will, asks an old sf question, those "mind children" be lotus-eaters in a computer simulation? And will it matter if they do?). The "apocalyptic" (true in a religious sense, less so in a secular one) transformation of society is to be applauded and feared, ripe with fearful, resentful ambivalence in both visions. ( )
  RandyStafford | Oct 29, 2012 |
How does a Great Mambo Chicken come about anyway? Well, some scientists were sitting around wandering what was so great about living in one-G conditions all the time. They made a big centrifuge, put some straw, chicken feed, and some chickens in there and spun them up to two-and-a-half Gs for months. The chickens did their chicken thing: they cackled, scratched around, laid eggs, and had grand chicken-ly times. Twenty-three generations went through this. They came out buff and muscled. Great Mambo Chickens. They had lost their excess fat, their hearts were pumping more blood, their extensor muscles were big, and their wingbeating exercises and treadmill tests showed a three-fold increase in strength. They strutted and stomped on the treadmills showing off their bad-self chickenness.

The human condition or the human predicament is not admired by many humans. Everybody wants to condemn it or improve it. Acceptance of it as is is considered feeble at best. Why is that? Religions emphasize the spiritual and denigrate the physical and the sordid thoughts that emanate from mushy brain tissue. Some come up with a formula that goes something like- have a salvation event, wear a hair shirt, fleece the poor, pray for the end-times to hurry up and get here, and then eternal paradise happens. The techno-nerds eliminate the faith part and decide they will create their own paradise by manipulating matter in all kinds of ways. Downloadable brains and personalities, back-up copies, exchangeable bodies of all kinds, cryogenic time-outs, and even more out-there ideas. The difference between the religionists and the techno-heaveners is one of faith and one of degrees of action. If the faith is expended in a nonactive delusion then not much happens in the present world. There are results if the faithful try to strong-arm their beliefs on others. Death comes and whatever happens on the other side of death happens. The other camp decides to manipulate the physical world in a effort to create their own visions of paradise in physical manifestations. The electronic self has to have a substrate to reside in.

Philosophy is hard enough to contemplate with humanity in the picture. Add transhumanism to mix and it's like trying to completely understand infinity. Vertigo ensues. Regis is a philosopher and the underlying theme of this book is hubris. Not a horror of hubris but an incredulous amazement of hubristic transhuman thinking in some circles. He uses italics extensively to bring across this incredulity. It's not a complicated read and many parts are entertaining. He is a philosopher with a sense of humor. The book was published twenty-one years ago. That makes for an interesting timeline about what has happened since. The robotics progress has been exponential since then.

I have a fondness for crazy people. Not psychopaths but crazy people that think really big crazy thoughts. This book is full of such characters. Some of them are actually dead now which probably messed up their goal of not dying. I'm not sure I want them to succeed with some of their grandiose plans for reshaping humanity and the universe but technology has a pattern of marching on bit by bit. Is it really a good idea to dismantle Jupiter? Or squeeze the sun to get some energy? It wasn't that long ago that many thought human flight was so hubristic that the gods would swoop down and knock humanity's wings off. ( )
4 vote VisibleGhost | Jan 6, 2011 |
Rather disappointing after the brilliant "Who Got Einstein's Office", perhaps because it is a collection of short pieces so lacks a cohesive focus. Entertaining nevertheless, but only periodically informative. ( )
  datrappert | May 3, 2009 |
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Enter the gray area between overheated imagination and overheated reality, and meet a network of scientists bent on creating artificial life forms, building time machines, hatching plans for dismantling the sun, enclosing the solar system in a cosmic eggshell, and faxing human minds to the far side of the galaxy. With Ed Regis as your guide, walk the fine line between science fact and fiction on this freewheeling and riotously funny tour through some of the most serious science there is.

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