Science has it’s annual summer books issue out this week.
Be sure to check out the review Darwin’s Devices: What Evolving Robots Can Teach Us About the History of Life and the Future of Technology by yours truly: “Evolution and Robots.”
I am envious of those who when asked what they work on can respond, “I study the evolution of robots.” John Long (a vertebrate physiologist at Vassar College) is one such researcher, and reading Darwin’s Devices is like listening, over drinks, to a voluble, engaging, and funny scientist tell you about his work. On occasion, his jargon gets a little heavy, he will toss in an unexplained concept, or he will digress about his youthful dreams to join the Navy. But for the most part, Long draws you into a compelling and wide-ranging conversation. This includes discussions of the mechanics of fish backbones, how we practice science, the nature of evolution, what it means to be intelligent, our dystopian robot future, and, most important, the crucial role of good models in science.