Reviews of Permutation City (1994)
Review by Scarblac (2004-08-04)
An extremely thought provoking book. It's very hard to argue with his so-called "dust theory".
I belong to the group of people who believe in so-called "hard AI", in the theoretical possibility of running an intelligence on a computer, I even believe in the possibility of "uploading" a human's mind into a computer, eventually.
If you follow this book's logic, especially the 'dust theory' (and I haven't found the flaw in it) that would mean that that mind would continue to exist, even if the computer were turned off. Read it.
In this book is also the problem of making a spam filter more intelligent, ever more intelligent - but not TOO intelligent, since then it would become conscious, and letting a consciousness filter spam all its life would be torture :-)
All of this and much more, of course in an engrossing story, with actual characters that will interest you and so on, but for me that wasn't the point of the book.
Review by apetrop (2003-11-28)
Cogito ergo sump.
A very well thought-out book talking about the meaning of conscioussness and what it means to be alive (or what it *could* mean). There are some very intriguing ideas in Permuation City that will make you think. The characters are kind of flat but the story was so compeling that I found that out upon recollection after reading it.
What really impressed me was the fact that it was hard to argue with the logic of the universe Egan created once you accept the basic premises (brain scanning etc). I mean if we ever build a machine that will host human intelligence that is the way I imagine we were going to design it.
Review by sqbr (2003-07-05)
An interesting if somewhat far-fetched (In a taking things to their natural conclusion way, rather than implausible) musing on the nature of consciousness and reality as it relates to AI.
A pretty engaging story too.