Books  |    |  October 13, 2004

Digital Soul: Intelligent Machines and Human Values

Book by Thomas M. Georges. 
Published by Basic Books. 
296 pages. 

Should the day come when intelligent machines not only make computations but also think and experience emotions as humans do, how will we distinguish the “human” from the “machine”? This introduction to artificial intelligence – and to its potentially profound social, moral, and ethical implications – is designed for readers with little or no technical background. In accessible, focused, engaging discussions, physicist and award-winning science writer Thomas Georges explores the fundamental issues: What is consciousness? Can computers be conscious? If machines could think and even feel, would they then be entitled to “human” rights? Will machines and people merge into a biomechanical race? Should we worry that super-intelligent machines might take over the world? Even now we continue to put increasingly sophisticated machines in control of critical aspects of our lives in ways that may hold unforeseen consequences for the human race. Digital Soul challenges all of us, before it’s too late, to think carefully and rationally about the kind of world we will want to live in – with intelligent machines ever closer by our sides.

Table of Contents

  1. Artificial Intelligence — That’s the Fake Kind, Right?
  2. What Makes Computers So Smart?
  3. What Do You Mean, Smarter than Us?
  4. Machines Who Think
  5. Let the Android Do It
  6. What Is Intelligence?
  7. What Is Consciousness?
  8. Can Computers Have Emotions?
  9. Can Your PC Become Neurotic?
  10. The Moral Mind
  11. Moral Problems with Intelligent Artifacts
  12. The Moral Machine
  13. Global Network to Global Mind
  14. Will Machines Take Over?
  15. Why Not Just Pull the Plug?
  16. Cultures in Collision
  17. Beyond Human Dignity
  18. Extinction or Immortality?
  19. The Enemy Within
  20. Electronic Democracy
  21. Rethinking the Covenant Between Science and Society
  22. What About God?

About the Author

Thomas M. Georges received a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Colorado. From 1963 until 2000, he worked as a research scientist at the Boulder, Colorado, Laboratories of the U.S. Department of Commerce, first with the National Bureau of Standards, and most recently with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where his research focused on ocean remote sensing using over-the-horizon radars. Dr. Georges is the author or co-author of more than 100 publications on radio and acoustic-gravity-wave propagation, ionospheric dynamics, meteorology, radar oceanography, and atmospheric and ocean acoustics.