X-Message-Number: 11951
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 11:19:01 EDT
Subject: Moravec's ROBOT

I have now received and skimmed through Hans Moravec's recent book ROBOT: 
Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind. I expect to do a review for the next issue 
of THE IMMORTALIST; meanwhile, just a couple of comments.

ROBOT is mainly an update of MIND CHILDREN, with some changes of target 
dates, and a few new ideas.

Moravec's books are slim and lazy, with educational value far inferior to 
those of such writers as e.g. Drexler, Merkle, Perry, Pearce, Broderick, 
Tipler, Penrose, Hofstadter, Deutsch, Lockwood, Smolin, and Unger. 

In his own area of expertise--contemporary robotics--Moravec is useful but 
not exciting. In his areas of pure speculation, such as the nature of 
reality, he is exciting but not useful. 

Although he barely mentions nanotechnology, he breezily extrapolates some of 
its promise as follows:

"Reaching between and into cells, tiny "hands" could catch, examine, and 
alter individual molecules, for rapid, thorough, and ultrasensitive chemical 
analysis and mechanical, microstructural and molecular repairs and 
alterations....almost instantaneously.....to simultaneously work on almost 
every cell of a human body....leaving the patient untraumatized and 
unscarred, like new." (No, he wasn't talking about frozen patients.)

P.S. Thanks to John de Rivaz for the review of the Blackmore book, which I 
will get.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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