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Emergence - The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software

Steven Johnson

2,929 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 068486875X / ISBN 13: 9780684868752
Published by Scribner, New York, 2001
Used Condition: As New Hardcover
From Alberta's Books (Kingston, NY, U.S.A.)

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Second printing. 288 pp. As new in a fine, price-intact dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # 002371

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Emergence - The Connected Lives of Ants, ...

Publisher: Scribner, New York

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:As New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Drawing on urban studies, neuroscience, computer games, cultural criticism, and more, a thought-provoking book combines scientific theory, cultural analysis, and reportage to shed new light on the cutting-edge theory of emergence and its impact on the world. 40,000 first printing.

Review:

An individual ant, like an individual neuron, is just about as dumb as can be. Connect enough of them together properly, though, and you get spontaneous intelligence. Web pundit Steven Johnson explains what we know about this phenomenon with a rare lucidity in Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software. Starting with the weird behavior of the semi-colonial organisms we call slime molds, Johnson details the development of increasingly complex and familiar behavior among simple components: cells, insects, and software developers all find their place in greater schemes.

Most game players, alas, live on something close to day-trader time, at least when they're in the middle of a game--thinking more about their next move than their next meal, and usually blissfully oblivious to the ten- or twenty-year trajectory of software development. No one wants to play with a toy that's going to be fun after a few decades of tinkering--the toys have to be engaging now, or kids will find other toys.

Johnson has a knack for explaining complicated and counterintuitive ideas cleverly without stealing the scene. Though we're far from fully understanding how complex behavior manifests from simple units and rules, our awareness that such emergence is possible is guiding research across disciplines. Readers unfamiliar with the sciences of complexity will find Emergence an excellent starting point, while those who were chaotic before it was cool will appreciate its updates and wider scope. --Rob Lightner

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