Temple of Set Reading List: Category 15
Cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence
Reprinted from: "The Crystal Tablet of Set" (c) Temple of Set 1989 CE Weirdbase file version
by TS permission by Michael A. Aquino, Ipsissimus VI* Temple of Set
Everyone knows that computers and computer science are continuing to mushroom, but few really know just how much and with what impact. The reality is astonishing in some ways and overblown in others. Industrialized civilizations of the planet are now so dependent upon computerized systems of commerce and communication that they are close to being "at the mercy" of the computer scientist, whose responsibility it is to "make the things work" - and, incidentally, to set parameters for human enterprise by taking computer design in one direction or another. Obviously a computer-dominated society is hyperefficient in some ways, hypervulnerable in others.
At the very least the magician must know enough about the field so that he is sensitive to the ways in which it influences him - and the ways in which he may use it to influence others. 15A. "Future Shock" by Alvin Toffler. NY: Random House, 1970. (TS-3)
MA: "Strictly speaking, this is a study of accelerated styles of living rather than of computers per se. It is included in this section because it illustrates the environment in which computers have become increasingly indispensable. It is also important to consider the directions in which this environment may proceed, and the impact of related phenomena. "Future Shock" has been around for a long time now, but its propositions are no less valid today than they were when the book was first published." 15B. "God & Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion" by Norbert Wiener. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1964. (TS-3)
MA: "Wiener, who coined the term 'cybernetics' in 1948, later went on to consider the ultimate implications of artificial intelligence. A series of his lectures was consolidated into this 100-page volume, which went on to win the National Book Award. The argument is one of ethics rather than of technology." 15C. "Social Issues in Computing" by C.C. Gotlieb and A. Borodin. NY: Academic Press, 1973. (TS-3)
MA: "A 300-page text dealing with computer capabilities, present uses, and possible uses. Included are discussions about the computer industry itself, information systems and privacy, forecasting, simulations, data banks, professional ethics, and the use of computers as a power device." 15D. "I, Robot" by Isaac Asimov. NY: Doubleday, 1950. (TS-3) 4E (M.A.'s Heathkit HERO-1 robot): "A classic of science not-so- fiction, exploring the implications of artificial intelligence. Famed for the 'three laws of robotics', the concept of robopsychology, and the positronic brain. The reality of this book is closer than you think/compute ..." 15E. "As Man Becomes Machine: The Next Step in Evolution" by David Rorvik. NY: Pocket Books #0-671-82230-6, 1978. (TS-3)
MA: "An anthology [in layman's terms] of the research towards the evolution of the cyborg - first the gradual replacement of various organic components of the human body with inorganic machinery, then the transference of consciousness from the organic brain to an inorganic computer. Various hypotheses from this book are illustrated in the character of Lorin Xanpol the Pantechnikon in #21I." 15F. "Machines Who Think: A Personal Inquiry into the History and Prospects of Artificial Intelligence" by Pamela McCorduck. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, 1979. (TS-3)
MA: "This is THE book on artificial intelligence. Over the years I have examined and rejected many books on this subject as being either too elementary or too technical. McCorduck is a reporter, not a computer scientist, but she's got a first-rate [organic] brain of her own and a writing style that turns this potentially confusing subject into an exciting adventure. From the book: 'I like to think of artificial intelligence as the scientific apotheosis of a venerable cultural tradition, the proper successor to golden girls and brazen heads, disreputable but visionary geniuses and crackpots, and fantastical laboratories during stormy November nights. Its heritage is singularly rich and varied, with legacies from myth and literature; philosophy and art; mathematics, science, and engineering; warfare, commerce, and even quackery. I've spoken of roads or routes, but in fact it is all more like a web, the woven connectedness of all human enterprise.'"