The Selfish Gene – A Book Review

“Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.” – Ricahrd Dawkins, The Selfish gene

With a Dawkins book, you order the vanilla but get a scoop of everything. From primordial soup to chess robots, the Prisoner’s Dilemma to population control, Dawkin’s classic Selfish Gene is a broad and fascinating book. Its central argument may seem of little value to the non-biologist, but the implication of a gene-centered evolutionary process, as opposed to individual-centered, are massive.

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The Language Instinct – A Book Review

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana” – Anthony Oettinger

The above quote is often attributed to the absurdly witty Groucho Marx, and who would second guess it? The man gave us English-exploiting jokes like, “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read,” and, “I once shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in them, I’ll never know.” The true author of this quote, however, is Anthony Oettinger, a linguist and computer scientist who, in the 1960s, tried to make an artificial intelligence that could comprehend English sentences.

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