Analogia: The Emergence of Technology Beyond Programmable Control (Hardcover)

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In Analogia, technology historian George Dyson presents a startling look back at the analog age and life before the digital revolution—and an unsettling vision of what comes next.

In 1716, the philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz spent eight days taking the cure with Peter the Great at Bad Pyrmont in Saxony, seeking to initiate a digitally-computed takeover of the world. In his classic books, Darwin Among the Machines and Turing’s Cathedral, Dyson chronicled the realization of Leibniz’s dream at the hands of a series of iconoclasts who brought his ideas to life. Now, in his pathbreaking new book, Analogia, he offers a chronicle of people who fought for the other side—the Native American leader Geronimo and physicist Leo Szilard, among them—a series of stories that will change our view not only of the past but also of the future.

The convergence of a startling historical archaeology with Dyson’s unusual personal story—set alternately in the rarified world of cutting-edge physics and computer science, in Princeton, and in the rainforest of the Northwest Coast—leads to a prophetic vision of an analog revolution already under way. We are, Dyson reveals, on the cusp of a new moment in human history, driven by a generation of machines whose powers are beyond programmable control.

Includes black-and-white illustrations

About the Author

George Dyson, a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, is an independent historian of technology whose subjects have included the development (and redevelopment) of the Aleut kayak (Baidarka, 1986), the evolution of artificial intelligence (Darwin Among the Machines, 1997), a path not taken into space (Project Orion, 2002), and the transition from numbers that mean things to numbers that do things in the aftermath of World War II (Turing’s Cathedral, 2012).

Praise For…

"Pleasingly eccentric [and] impossibly wide-ranging . . . Racing from the Stone Age to the coming singularity, Dyson is in fine fettle . . . [A] lively, if deeply strange, narrative...A thoughtful—and most thought-provoking—exploration of where our inventions have taken and will take us.” —Kirkus (starred review)

"This is the most delightfully peculiar book I've ever read. It's grand and intimate, personal and cosmic, and about digital computing and archaic hunter gatherers. Every paragraph is a surprise." —Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired

"An Odyssey of discovery...part autobiography, part science manual, part history book" —Izabella Kaminska, The Financial Times

"George Dyson's Analogia is a wonderful combination of the universal and the intimate, the timeless and the immediate, the scientific and the humane. A wise and open-minded writer sheds new light on our world." —James Fallows, author of National Defense and Our Towns

"Analogia is a work of originality and ambition unlike any you've encountered. George Dyson transmutes memoir, history, and forecast into a page-turning tale in which Geronimo, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Catherine the Great, Kurt Gödel, and Steller's sea cow play roles. It's no less the story of the magnificent Dysons, a larger-than-life family spanning physicist Freeman, mathematician Verena, tech influencer Esther, and the author himself, an off-the-grid public intellectual. Analogia offers more serious fun than a dozen of the usual bestsellers." —William Poundstone, author of The Doomsday Calculation: How an Equation That Predicts the Future is Transforming Everything We Know About Life and the Universe

"This strange, beautiful, haunting work is like a kaleidoscope of stories, its pattern locking into place at the end. Mixing the rise of computation, the brutal wars on the Apache, the construction of ancient kayaks, and a host of other matters with the author's own remarkable story, George Dyson's book will stick in readers' minds long after they close its covers. Analogia belongs on the shelf that holds Naipaul's Enigma of Arrival and Sebald's Rings of Saturn. And it can stand proudly in their exalted company." —Charles Mann, author of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

"This book pierces through the fog of everyday life. Read and you will become aware of history you need to know, and of how the last few centuries of the human story sit within a much larger, epochal frame. An extra treat is insight into the remarkable Dyson family." —Jaron Lanier, author of Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

“A thought-provoking deep dive into the ideas and stories behind some of the biggest issues of our time. One of Dyson’s best.” —Greg Bear, author of Darwin's Radio

"George Dyson, over the distance of a mere 250 pages, ties together the fine strands of time, space, science, and self, in a gossamer web as beautiful and strong as a spider’s. A wondrous and stellar work.” —Andrei Codrescu, author of The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess

Product Details
ISBN: 9780374104863
ISBN-10: 0374104867
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: August 18th, 2020
Pages: 304