|The Cambridge Quintet
John L. Casti
|This is not a novel, but as the subtitle says: “a work of scientific speculation”. In a fictional setting Mr Casti brings together some famous scientists to discuss (in 1949) the possibilities of the computer.
The host of the dinner party is CP Snow, and indeed this is a typical situation for Snow’s main character Lewis Eliot.
Guests at the dinner are Ludwig Wittgenstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Alan Turing and J.B.S.Haldane. And the main topic is the question wether a machine can be built that might be able to think like a human being. In other words, will artificial intelligence ever be possible?
This problem has many facets and Snow moderates the discussion between Turing, the father of the modern computer, Wittgenstein, the famous modern philosopher concerned with logic and language, Schrödinger, specialised in quantum mechanics, and Haldane, an evolutionary biologist.
For those who are interested in human and artificial intelligence, this is a pleasant read.