A detail from the cover of "Darwin's Devices"
“Darwin’s Devices”: Here Come The Robot Fish
Author: LAURA MILLER
Fish, without a doubt, gotta swim, but how do they do it? And how, over millenniums of evolution, did they get to be so good at it? These two questions have driven the career of John Long, a professor of biology and cognitive science at Vassar College. Long is so into fish that his primal scene of intellectual seduction involved a Ph.D. trying to get him to join her team by taking him out for coffee and asking, “Have you seen the vertebral column of a marlin?” Thus was Long launched into a course of study that would ultimately lead him to the improbable task of making robot fish.
As geeky as this may sound, it turns out that the problems inherent in making robot fish yield some of humanity’s deepest questions: How did we get here? What (and where) is thought? How much can we trust the symbols (words, images, digital signals) that dominate our lives? Long’s new book, “Darwin’s Devices: What Evolving Robots Can Teach Us About the History of Life and the Future of Technology
,” is part Descartes, part MacGyver and part Douglas Adams, turning from rumination on the possibility of intelligence residing in a brainless body to tips on making artificial fish vertebrae out of coffee stirrers to the dopey yet endearing jokes that seem to flourish in laboratories all over the world.
Read more at Salon