Time Travel: A History
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From the acclaimed author of The Information and Chaos, a mind-bending exploration of time travel: its subversive origins, its evolution in literature and science, and its influence on our understanding of time itself.
Gleick's story begins at the turn of the twentieth century with the young H. G. Wells writing and rewriting the fantastic tale that became his first book, an international sensation, The Time Machine. A host of forces were converging to transmute the human understanding of time, some philosophical and some technological—the electric telegraph, the steam railroad, the discovery of buried civilizations, and the perfection of clocks. Gleick tracks the evolution of time travel as an idea in the culture—from Marcel Proust to Doctor Who, from Woody Allen to Jorge Luis Borges. He explores the inevitable looping paradoxes and examines the porous boundary between pulp fiction and modern physics. Finally, he delves into a temporal shift that is unsettling our own moment: the instantaneous wired world, with its all-consuming present and vanishing future.
(With a color frontispiece and black-and-white illustrations throughout.)
the gadget, which understands and responds to an ever growing set of orders (including, no surprise, “Echo, buy more diapers”). Every time I said “Echo,” Jack’s eyes shot up to the cylinder-shaped speaker atop the refrigerator, its glowing blue halo indicating it was listening. Then, one day, the inevitable happened: “Uggo!” Jack barked. “Bus!” After I explained to Jack that it’s not nice to call someone an uggo, I saw myself through my son’s words—and didn’t like how I looked. Sure, Echo doesn’t
everybody agrees that speaking to computers the way we’d like to be spoken to is the best way forward. Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artiicial Intelligence in Seattle, is one. “I don’t say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to my toaster,” he argues. “Why should I say it to [Echo]?” Etzioni believes that the machines we have now, our smartphones and tablets, are efectively appliances. “It seems to me that we reserve politeness as a social lubricant,” he says. “It has a purpose.” And as a
father, Etzioni is concerned that his AI AND HOW WE RELATE TO IT IF YOU’VE EVER BEEN FOOLED by an online customer-service chatbot or an automated phone system, you’ll agree that this technology is evolving quickly. Coming generations will ind it even harder to diferentiate between bots and people, as they encounter even more artiicially intelligent assistants backed by machine learning—computers that teach themselves through repeated interactions with human beings. At Microsoft, for instance,
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