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Insanely Complicated, Hopelessly Inadequate

Paul Taylor: AI, 21 January 2021

The Promise of Artificial Intelligence: Reckoning and Judgment 
by Brian Cantwell Smith.
MIT, 157 pp., £20, October 2019, 978 0 262 04304 5
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Rebooting AI: Building Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust 
by Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis.
Ballantine, 304 pp., £22.50, September 2019, 978 1 5247 4825 8
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The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect 
by Judea Pearl and Dana Mackenzie.
Penguin, 418 pp., £10.99, May 2019, 978 0 14 198241 0
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... to the kind of computation performed by artificial neural networks. The cognitive scientist Gary Marcus is among the most prominent critics of machine learning as an approach to AI. Rebooting AI, written with Ernest Davis, is a rallying cry to those who still believe in the old religion.Marcus and Davis maintain ...

Smarter, Happier, More Productive

Jim Holt: ‘The Shallows’, 3 March 2011

The Shallows: How the Internet Is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember 
by Nicholas Carr.
Atlantic, 276 pp., £17.99, September 2010, 978 1 84887 225 7
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... remodel’ the brain? The only germane study that Carr is able to cite was undertaken in 2008 by Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA. Small recruited a dozen experienced web surfers and a dozen novices, and scanned their brains while they did Google searches. Sure enough, the two groups showed different patterns of neural firing. The activity was ...

Les zombies, c’est vous

Thomas Jones: Zombies, 26 January 2012

Zone One 
by Colson Whitehead.
Harvill Secker, 259 pp., £14.99, October 2011, 978 1 84655 598 5
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... internet after the apocalypse, of course. We’re only 30 pages from the end when Mark Spitz tells Gary, a fellow zombie hunter, how he came by his nickname, adding: ‘Plus the black-people-can’t-swim thing.’ This is the first explicit mention in the text of Mark Spitz’s skin colour (Gary, we’re told early ...

swete lavender

Thomas Jones: Molesworth, 17 February 2000

by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle.
Penguin, 406 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 14 118240 7
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... of Potter’s school, ‘Hogwarts’, is surely derived from ‘The Hogwarts’, a Latin play by Marcus Plautus Molesworthus – Molesworth does not have adventures; instead he daydreams, ruminates and observes. The subtitle to Down with Skool! is ‘A Guide to School Life for Tiny Pupils and Their Parents’, and we are introduced to headmasters, other ...

More Pain, Better Sentences

Adam Mars-Jones: Satire and St Aubyn, 8 May 2014

Lost for Words 
by Edward St Aubyn.
Picador, 261 pp., £12.99, May 2014, 978 0 330 45422 3
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by Charlie Hill.
Tindal Street, 192 pp., £6.99, November 2013, 978 1 78125 163 8
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... particular target is the genre of the male confessional, as practised by the bestselling novelist Gary Sayles, whose bibliography should ring some bells: Our Legendary Twenties was about a single twentysomething professional Londoner looking for love. Cutting the Cake concerned itself with a late twentysomething professional Londoner unsure whether or not to ...

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