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Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World

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Out of Control chronicles the dawn of a new era in which the machines and systems that drive our economy are so complex and autonomous as to be indistinguishable from living things.


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Out of Control chronicles the dawn of a new era in which the machines and systems that drive our economy are so complex and autonomous as to be indistinguishable from living things.

30 review for Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andreas

    This is a fascinating book full of fascinating ideas reaching across the board from artificial intelligence, evolution, biology, ecology, robotics and more to explore complexity, cybernetics and self-organising systems in an accessible and engaging way. But despite the fascinating topic matter, "Out of Control" has a number of frustrating flaws: - It is way too long-winded. - It is full of weird conjecture and meta-philosophising, which may have inspired the creators of the Matrix trilogy, but This is a fascinating book full of fascinating ideas reaching across the board from artificial intelligence, evolution, biology, ecology, robotics and more to explore complexity, cybernetics and self-organising systems in an accessible and engaging way. But despite the fascinating topic matter, "Out of Control" has a number of frustrating flaws: - It is way too long-winded. - It is full of weird conjecture and meta-philosophising, which may have inspired the creators of the Matrix trilogy, but which I find unconvincing. - It almost completely void of meta-text to help the reader understand what Kelly is trying to do with his book (having read the book, I'm still wondering). Indeed, reading the book I got the feeling that Kelly was trying to combine several different books into one: There is a fascinating study of self-sustaining systems. But there is also a sort of business-book take on network economy. And an extended meditation on evolution and postdarwinism. I'm sure that to Kelly, all of these things are tightly interconnected. But he doesn't explain that very well to the reader. His central argument is that as technology becomes ever more complex, it becomes more akin to biological systems (eco-systems, vivisystems, interdependent and co-evolving organisms). But because the individual chapters are set up as essays on their own, there is often little to tie these wildly different ideas together. I would have preferred a much shorter book, more narrowly focused on the idea of self-organising systems. A good editor would have helped produce that. UPDATE: I took upon my self to attempt to edit the book into the version that I would have preferred to read: http://andreaslloyd.dk/outofcontrol/

  2. 5 out of 5

    Feliks

    Disturbing and reassuring at the same time. One of those books which approach the current state of world chaos from a unique angle and helps one try to make sense of what's going on. Reassuring in that Kelly gives us something of a method to dissect current technological trends. He offers a quirky kind of philosophical outlook towards the alarming aspects of modernism which says, "relax, just trust in science" (because, and I paraphrase) 'science is ultimately displaying an organic style of Disturbing and reassuring at the same time. One of those books which approach the current state of world chaos from a unique angle and helps one try to make sense of what's going on. Reassuring in that Kelly gives us something of a method to dissect current technological trends. He offers a quirky kind of philosophical outlook towards the alarming aspects of modernism which says, "relax, just trust in science" (because, and I paraphrase) 'science is ultimately displaying an organic style of development'. Its a neat way to analyze progress, I guess. For about five minutes. The analogies between science and nature are cleverly drawn; and since nature is usually reassuring--seeing how science matches her so concretely nowadays--is by extension, reassuring. Can science really be so frightening if its simply following natural patterns we already know about? But is it? Kelly seems to be missing something. Our world is now not one where computers are just an ornament, or a toy. They're running the world. How well does that match with nature? Not much; it seems to me. His examples and anecdotes just don't go far enough. This book has past its prime; its relevancy--in just ten years. Written shortly before the cell-phone boom--it has a somewhat more optimistic outlook on burgeoning technology than I think we would now generally embrace. In light of recent events--a personal electronics technology BOOM exploding at a pace no one foresaw--can we really just click our heels 3x as Kelly suggests, and trust that the whirlwind will see us safely home? I think not. I think he's far too comfortably wrapped in his positivist viewpoint. Kelly focuses more on 'means' rather than 'ends' and doesn't pay enough attention to 'fallout', 'byproducts', or 'risks'. He allocates no effort to the notion of simply preserving existing values; traditions; customs; upholding existing quality-of-life. His message seems to simply be: 'get with the program'. Its probably wise to pair this title with other more recent works which describe brain function; language; learning; vs the effects of social media. You can see that things simply haven't gone the way he predicted.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David

    Don't let the fact that it took me 10 months to finish this book impact your decision to read it; Out of Control was a well-worthy, remarkable effort, which should be given a careful and thorough read. So, why 10 months? Kevin Kelly is very wordy. Yes, Kelly provides fascinating insights and revelations about machine biology, "hive mind" theory, co-evolution, the evolution of computers, and the future of planet Earth. But he does all of this with about 200 pages more than are actually necessary Don't let the fact that it took me 10 months to finish this book impact your decision to read it; Out of Control was a well-worthy, remarkable effort, which should be given a careful and thorough read. So, why 10 months? Kevin Kelly is very wordy. Yes, Kelly provides fascinating insights and revelations about machine biology, "hive mind" theory, co-evolution, the evolution of computers, and the future of planet Earth. But he does all of this with about 200 pages more than are actually necessary to make his point. Kelly is a great writer, no doubt, but he tends to wander aimlessly, which makes these difficult topics challenging to understand. A good editor would have helped immensely. Out of control also suffers from a lack of cohesion, and would be better served as a collection of separate essays about each topic, rather than a book that strives to espouse one overarching theme. As I was reading, I kept wondering where Kelly was going with all of his ideas, as a lack of drive seemed evident. Lest you think I have nothing but ill contempt for this book, there is a payoff: Kelly is a brilliant soothsayer, of sorts. This book was written 16 years ago, so hindsight can readily be applied, and Kelly's predictions about where science would be with relation to computers, nanotechnology, pharmaceuticals, this crazy thing called the "Internet" he kept mentioning, have nearly all come to fruition. Does this mean machines and computers develop their own biology, and begin truly thinking for themselves, as Kelly suggests? Time will only tell.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Uli Kunkel

    Great book, good starting point for BEGINNER programmers.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kars

    The parts where Kelly discusses technology are dated, and worth skipping. But his overview of evolutionary biology is comprehensive, and the way he connects it to the realm of the made is inspirational and compelling. It's given me new starting points for thinking about complexity.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nathanael Coyne

    This book blew me away - so much I didn't know about systems theory, hive mind and distributed redundant networks in nature and their application in technology. Amazing, highly recommended, even if the book is 15 years old now.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Li Zhao

    Finally finished the book. It was such an enjoyment and a thrill to read this book. Many of the ideas and concepts he brought up in his book back in 1994 were realized and set to running today. What an exciting experience to follow and visualize the vast, grand future ahead of us through this book! Just love it!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rui Ma

    This books was written in the 1990s. It's surprisingly accurately predict what's going on in this world now. Technology is evolving, so are our society and economy. Control is just illusion. We need to accept that out of control is the new normal.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    A great display of Hayekian emergent orders occurring outside of economics.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Akhil Jain

    "Kauffman’s Law states that above a certain point, increasing the richness of connections between agents freezes adaptation. nothing gets done because too many actions hinge on too many other contradictory actions. Too many agents have a say in each other’s work, and bureaucratic rigor mortis sets in." "The primary goal that any system seeks is survival. The secondary search is for the ideal parameters to keep the system tuned for maximal flexibility. But it is the third order search that is most "Kauffman’s Law states that above a certain point, increasing the richness of connections between agents freezes adaptation. nothing gets done because too many actions hinge on too many other contradictory actions. Too many agents have a say in each other’s work, and bureaucratic rigor mortis sets in." "The primary goal that any system seeks is survival. The secondary search is for the ideal parameters to keep the system tuned for maximal flexibility. But it is the third order search that is most exciting: the search for strategies and feedback mechanisms that will increasingly self-tune the system each step on the way" Although the f=ma law still holds sway over the balloon, other forces such as propulsion and airlift push and pull, generate an unpredictable trajectory. in its chaotic dance, the careening balloon mirrors the unpredictable waltz of sunspot cycles, ice age’s temperatures, epidemics, the flow of water down a tube, and, more to the point, the flux of the stock market. But is the balloon really unpredictable? if you tried to solve the equations for the balloon’s crazy flitter, its path would be nonlinear, therefore almost unsolvable, and therefore unforeseeable. yet, a teenager reared on nintendo could learn how to catch the balloon. not infallibly, but better than chance. after a couple dozen tries, the teenage brain begins to mould a theory—an intuition, an induction—based on the data. after a thousand balloon take offs, his brain has modeled some aspect of the rubber’s flight. It cannot predict precisely where the balloon will land, but it detects a direction the missile favors, say, to the rear of the launch or following a certain pattern of loops. Perhaps overtime, the balloon-catcher hits 10 percent more than chance would dictate. For balloon catching, what more do you need? in some games, one doesn’t require much information to make a prediction that is useful. while running from lions, or investing in stocks, the tiniest edge over raw luck is significant. Both the long-term, unpredictable nature of the high dimensional systems, and the short-term, predictable nature of low-dimensional systems, derive from the fact that “chaos” is not the same thing as “randomness.” “There is order in chaos,” "Immediately after Saddam’s initial invasion, the war gamers shifted internal Look to running endless variations of the “real” scenario. They focused on a group of possibilities revolving around the variant: “what if Saddam keeps on coming right away?” it took ware’s computers about 5 minutes to run each iteration of the forecasted thirty day war. By running those simulations in many directions the team quickly learned that airpower would be the decisive key in this war. Further refined iterations clearly showed the war gamers that if airpower was successful, the U.S. war would be successful. The war gamers cheekily joked that no model reflects the white flag as a weapons system so few long-term predictions prove correct that statistically they are all wrong. yet, by the same statistical measure, so many short term predictions are right, that all short-term predictions are right." "Modis addresses three types of found order in the greater web of human interactions. Each variety forms a pocket of predictability at certain times. The three pockets of Modis: Invariants, Growth Curves, Cyclic Waves - Invariants: Instead of walking a half hour to work, you now drive a half hour to work. - Growth Curves: The worldwide production of cars per year or the lifetime production of symphonies composed by Mozart both fit an S-curve with great precision. This law says that the shape of the ending is symmetrical to the shape of the beginning - Cyclic Waves: The apparent complex behavior of a system is partly a reflection of the complex structure of the system’s environment. This was pointed out over 30 years ago by herbert simon, who used the journey of an ant over the ground as an illustration. The ant’s jig-jagging path across the soil reflected not the ant’s complex locomotion but the complex structure of its environment. according to Modis, cyclic phenomenon in nature can infuse a cyclic flavor to systems running within it Together, these three modes of prediction suggest that at certain moments of heightened visibility, the invisible pattern of order becomes clear to those paying attention. Pockets of prediction won’t keep away big surprises. But an image of an approaching predator becomes information about the future now. "Fundamentalists, as they are called, attempt to understand the driving forces, the underlying dynamics, and the fundamental conditions of a complex phenomenon. in short they seek a theory: f=ma." Wrong assumptions. even the best model can be sidetracked by false premises. The original key assumption of the model was that the world contains only a 250-year supply of nonrenewable resources, and that the demands on that supply are exponential. Twenty years later we know both those assumptions are wrong "The only way for a system to evolve into something new is to have a flexible structure. A tiny tadpole can change into a frog, but a 747 Jumbo Jet can’t add six inches to its length without crippling itself. This is why distributed being is so important to learning and evolving systems. A decentralized, redundant organization can flex without distorting its function, and thus it can adapt. it can manage change. we call that growth" From: http://www.aurosoorya.com/r&d/Out... 1) Cultivate increasing returns. each time you use an idea, a language, or a skill you strengthen it, reinforce it, and make it more likely to be used again. That’s known as positive feedback or snowballing. 6) Honour your errors – Errors help in evolution. “Evolution can be thought of as systematic error management.” 7) Pursue no optima; have multiple goals – Complex machinery can’t be efficient; if it works, it is beautiful; forget elegance. 8) Seek persistent disequilibrium – “Neither constancy, nor relentless change will support a creation.” We have to seek the middle point between equilibrium and death – the state of almost-fell. equilibrium is death This Order makes the collectivity in question behave in an organized, coherent, harmonised, efficient – biological – manner. Examples of such organized groups are ants and bees. Each bee does its work wonderfully in an organized manner, completely submitted to the ‘State’ – the beehive. The beehive doesn’t exist in any one bee, but emerges when the bees come together. Why can’t the same thing be true for humans, wonders the author.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Martin Brochhaus

    Man! I loved this book. It's a tough and long read, but the author is so full of energy, curiosity and obsession with the topic, it is super entertaining to read. The ideas could have been distilled into a much shorter volume, of course, and some of the chapters felt a bit redundant to me, but overall I would say author really tried to shed light on a complicated topic from all possible angles. The amount of research that must have gone into this boggles my mind. This book asks big questions: 1. Man! I loved this book. It's a tough and long read, but the author is so full of energy, curiosity and obsession with the topic, it is super entertaining to read. The ideas could have been distilled into a much shorter volume, of course, and some of the chapters felt a bit redundant to me, but overall I would say author really tried to shed light on a complicated topic from all possible angles. The amount of research that must have gone into this boggles my mind. This book asks big questions: 1. What is life? 2. What is intelligence/consciousness? 3. What is evolution? I find it unbelievable that this was written some 20 years ago. If these people have thought so sharply at that time, now that most of their predictions have come true and are slowly drifting into mainstream consciousness, I must wonder what these people are theorising about TODAY. Overall, there is little actionable knowledge in this book, but it helped me to make A LOT MORE SENSE of this chaotic and hyper connected world we are living in today. Someone who is in their teens/twenties today and needs to decide how to align their life should devour this book. If you are on a quest, I'd recommend to read The Sovereign Individual, Sapiens, Homo Deus and then this. It will all come together oh so nicely, I promise! This was probably the most mind blowing book I have read in a decade or more.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christine Shan

    This book is about the same age as I am but the content seems as pertinent as fitting for this century. It is an amazing book full of ideas about life, technology, and evolution. The author explores topics that seem unrelated at first glance but then everything aligns and clicks into place in the latter half. The book was long but provided good context for people like me who are unfamiliar with the topics. There were some places I had to put the book down because the new ideas were whirling so This book is about the same age as I am but the content seems as pertinent as fitting for this century. It is an amazing book full of ideas about life, technology, and evolution. The author explores topics that seem unrelated at first glance but then everything aligns and clicks into place in the latter half. The book was long but provided good context for people like me who are unfamiliar with the topics. There were some places I had to put the book down because the new ideas were whirling so excitingly in my head. This is a true gem if you love evolutionary biology, artificial intelligence and philosophy.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hong Gao

    Integrate organ and nature to pursue underlying persistent logic The underlying rules to govern nature and artifacts are openness, free. The evolution is more open, co-adaptive, incremental from atomic core to complex ecosystem. There is common and pervasive rule and laws to underpin living systems

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sainath

    Fantastic read. Some parts of the book are prescient, some are radically futuristic, and very little is dated. This book is about far too many things and maybe intends to leave the reader with more questions than answers.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Kevin Kelly is one of the best and most original thinkers I've read, and this could very well be his crowning achievement. An absolute treasure of a book--worthy of many hours of careful reading. Odds are he will change how you think about world.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amy Springer

    This book was a life saver. I had so many thoughts running around my head about like and technology. Kevin Kelly has pieced it all together in a thoughtful and easy to understand way. My favourite quote is "Life is the ultimate technology".

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Yang

    For anyone who is interested in VUCA theory or decentralization, you must read this.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Kan

    Social implications poorly extrapolated, outlook too positivist.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    AMAZING.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Walker

    Amazing insight into our frightening technological condition.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lailai

    Very impressive and interesting book! Although it is thick, but I Can’t help finishing it!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Norah

    Hands down the most intellectual and profound book I've read in recent years. Will read it again and probably again every couple years. Each chapter is rich in its content to be an independent book. Need constant break for digestion which makes it like reading a dictionary (in a respectful way!). So far, KK's many "apocalypse" of technology or society development has come true. He mentioned at the Q&A in the end that in the future (of a shared-hardware world), it's not the ownership of Hands down the most intellectual and profound book I've read in recent years. Will read it again and probably again every couple years. Each chapter is rich in its content to be an independent book. Need constant break for digestion which makes it like reading a dictionary (in a respectful way!). So far, KK's many "apocalypse" of technology or society development has come true. He mentioned at the Q&A in the end that in the future (of a shared-hardware world), it's not the ownership of information, but the access to information, is key to power/success/everything that we define as most valuable. Curious to see when that will happen.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Caleb

    What a brilliant magnum opus this is! Worth every second of the 11 months it took to get through this one!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stone

    It took me almost an entire year to finally finish this voluminous big cover. During this time period, I've already read Mr.Kelly's What Technology Wants What Technology Wants, which seems to correspond a lot to the prophecies in this 1994 book. As a result, my assessment on this book is more or less influenced by my judgement on the other one. Undisputed, Kevin Kelly was a great prognosticator of literally everything that took place in the information age, probably the best of his kind in It took me almost an entire year to finally finish this voluminous big cover. During this time period, I've already read Mr.Kelly's What Technology Wants What Technology Wants, which seems to correspond a lot to the prophecies in this 1994 book. As a result, my assessment on this book is more or less influenced by my judgement on the other one. Undisputed, Kevin Kelly was a great prognosticator of literally everything that took place in the information age, probably the best of his kind in Silicon Valley. Most of the predictions he made in this book have not only become true but extend further into the horizon---simply take a quick look at all the wearable devices and neurosensational contraptions we start putting on our body and even inside of our intestines these days. What enables him to make such accurate predictions, in my view, is the "ultra futuristic optimistic progressiveness" denounced by some commentators. The view that the tomorrow will get better is in any time unheard of throughout the human history until the explosion of science and technologies in the last 300 years. Both the million-year-old genetical intuition engraved in our DNAs and the millennial-old traditional teachings and indoctrinations are trying to persuade us to believe that we're still living under the same circumstance when in reality we are on the verge of an unprecedented transitional period and everything tends to get better off day by day. Despite the criticism made for Mr.Kelly's over-exaggeration of the role of machines and the "delusional optimism" of a combined human-technology ecosystem, I highly praise his work for two main reasons: 1) He clearly identified the trend of the integration of biology and genetics with information technology for both the industry and the society. I was personally inspired by this observation that I started devising my own blueprint of a future full of bionic structures, cyborgs, and organic machineries that act just like living organisms. 2) He established a holistic view of the effects of the advancement of machines in our ages. His insight on this tendency was not limited only to tech field but rather extended it to all the aspects of our society. This may well be reflected his 1999 book New Rules for New Economy. New Rules for the New Economy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Wil Michael

    Out of Control is one of the most different and interesting books I have read to date. Kelly beautifully describes the complex and simple structures we find throughout the networks in life. He describes things like hive behavior that make you rethink a beehive as rather then a bunch of dumb drones instead as a single super intelligent being. He delves into human psychology and the interworking of a human mob and its ability to function even without direct communication between those in the Out of Control is one of the most different and interesting books I have read to date. Kelly beautifully describes the complex and simple structures we find throughout the networks in life. He describes things like hive behavior that make you rethink a beehive as rather then a bunch of dumb drones instead as a single super intelligent being. He delves into human psychology and the interworking of a human mob and its ability to function even without direct communication between those in the network. His story is read like poetry at times, which is surprising considering how much of it is about super complex systems of life. This book has certainly gotten me interested in chaos theory as it is quite interesting and mysterious. Before reading this book I looked at the world around me as simple and straightforward, now I see it as thousands of interconnected networks trying to survive together in a brutal world. This book is a bit old so it is amazing to see some of Kelley's theories proven and put into practice. However this was quite a hard book for me to read as it is not like a novel where you find yourself lost in the content of the pages. Constantly I found myself looking up things like collective unconsciousness and hive behaviour on google. The book itself is separated by its main points so it could have been written as a series of books. Overall I would totally recommend this book to anyone, and dont worry if it takes you a year of reading little chunks to finish it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alex Lee

    In this well researched book, Kevin Kelly explores how agency emerges out of organization -- that the casual chain of "where decisions are made" isn't always locatable as a property of supervenience. Though a series of explorations (biospheres, cybernetics, group actions through crowd-feedback, evolutionary emergent behaviors, and so on), Kelly suggests that various causal chains can be complexified and managed but are often reliant on technocractic algorithms rather than human understanding. We In this well researched book, Kevin Kelly explores how agency emerges out of organization -- that the casual chain of "where decisions are made" isn't always locatable as a property of supervenience. Though a series of explorations (biospheres, cybernetics, group actions through crowd-feedback, evolutionary emergent behaviors, and so on), Kelly suggests that various causal chains can be complexified and managed but are often reliant on technocractic algorithms rather than human understanding. We reach our limit in grasping agency when group coherency is built out of several hundred+ factors but the suggestion that understanding is possible seems to be the undercurrent of Kelly's very interesting exploration. Towards the end, Kelly suggests an aesthetic list, one which if followed is meant to outline the possibility for extending understanding to the next level, to grasp emergent agencies. This is a bucketlist that treats the entire idea that things are "out of control" as being possibly "in control". He could have explored more in the direction of consciousness, but I suspect that Kelly shied away from this in order to maintain an organic but "machinic" (in the Deleuzian sense) view of agency. Some of the examples today may be somewhat outdated, but this was a fascinating book to read. Well worth the effort.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Scott Neal Reilly

    This is a great book. It covers a huge amount of material on complex systems, from robotics to economics to human psychology to ecology and more. Kevin Kelley is able to present relatively complex ideas like a well-versed scientist, but do it with the simple, engaging clarity of an excellent writer. There were a couple of pages that related to a project that I worked on back in grad school and where I know that he didn't get the material quite right, so I suspect that he was not perfectly true This is a great book. It covers a huge amount of material on complex systems, from robotics to economics to human psychology to ecology and more. Kevin Kelley is able to present relatively complex ideas like a well-versed scientist, but do it with the simple, engaging clarity of an excellent writer. There were a couple of pages that related to a project that I worked on back in grad school and where I know that he didn't get the material quite right, so I suspect that he was not perfectly true to all of the material/people/projects that he covered, but I've also seen the same work butchered a lot worse than he did, and, in the end, I still mostly agreed with his main points. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in complex systems. It's also the kind of book that I would even consider reading again (if I had time for that kind of thing).

  28. 5 out of 5

    William Crosby

    Extensive discussion of the development of neo-biological systems and the melding of biology and technology. Sometimes too wordy and anecdotal. Still, the often metaphorical and lyrical style of writing was a nice change from a dry textbook. One of the main points: that which we create can become autonomous, adaptable and out of our complete control. A few of the many concepts discussed: autonomous distributed systems, AI, hive mind, supermind, moreness, swarm model, coevolution, prairies, stable Extensive discussion of the development of neo-biological systems and the melding of biology and technology. Sometimes too wordy and anecdotal. Still, the often metaphorical and lyrical style of writing was a nice change from a dry textbook. One of the main points: that which we create can become autonomous, adaptable and out of our complete control. A few of the many concepts discussed: autonomous distributed systems, AI, hive mind, supermind, moreness, swarm model, coevolution, prairies, stable instability, game theory, variant disequilibrium, closed vs open systems, carbon, biosphere, smart eco-houses, ecological technology, neobiology, networks, sims, artificial evolution, genetic algorithms, connectionism, parallel processing, virtual ants, CAD, post-darwinism, symbiosis, saltation, spontaneous order, net math, crystallization, autocatalysts.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    What a book! I will be thinking about the concepts and ideas presented in this book for a long, long time. Kelly is a little more at home writing magazine articles, and sometimes the book lacks a coherent thesis, but that is more than made up for with wonderful prose, and an unbridled excitement for his subject. This book attempts to dissect the study of the unpredictable. From biological evolution to artificial intelligence to economies, it examines how and why complex, unpredictable systems What a book! I will be thinking about the concepts and ideas presented in this book for a long, long time. Kelly is a little more at home writing magazine articles, and sometimes the book lacks a coherent thesis, but that is more than made up for with wonderful prose, and an unbridled excitement for his subject. This book attempts to dissect the study of the unpredictable. From biological evolution to artificial intelligence to economies, it examines how and why complex, unpredictable systems form, and how they can be managed and created. This book was written in 1994, but it very rarely feels dated. The problems and concepts that technology was dealing with have become, if anything, more embedded and more interesting now. This book is a wonderful guide to anyone trying to navigate today's networked world.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dave Peticolas

    This is an extended meditation on the idea that the worlds of biology and technology are converging, with consequences for both. Along the way we meet lots of interesting thinkers and doers and see what sort of crazy things some of them have been up to (Biosphere 2 anyone?).Kelley's a pretty good writer and, while all of his theses don't ultimately mesh together, I can't recall reading another book with as many densely packed ideas as this one.

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