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Permutation City (Anglais) Broché – 6 juillet 1998

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Broché, 6 juillet 1998
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Paul Durham opened his eyes, blinking at the room's unexpected brightness, then lazily reached out to place one hand in a patch of sunlight at the edge of the bed. Lire la première page
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Format: Broché Achat vérifié
On doit pouvoir ressentir un plaisir intellectuel à appréhender les constructions fantasmagoriques de Gregg Egan dans ce Matrix quantique, mais j'ai trouvé le livré déséquilibré et globalement franchement improbable, même si l'idée de départ est intéressante. De la science-fiction intelligente et documentée, peut-être un peu trop !
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) HASH(0x9befbc00) étoiles sur 5 103 commentaires
51 internautes sur 52 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9bbf845c) étoiles sur 5 Excellent portrayal of strong AI and its implications 23 avril 2003
Par Jack Boyce - Publié sur
Format: Poche
Greg Egan is one of the only fiction writers who takes the concept of AI seriously. In most science fiction, AI is either not present (Dune), artificially rare (Star Wars, William Gibson), somehow deficient relative to the "real" intelligence of humans (Star Trek), or easily tamed into servitude (Asimov). Egan avoids these easy outs and provides a (I believe) more realistic view of what could happen when our hardware supports human-mind-scale computation.

Some of the extrapolation is fairly straightforward, for example the idea that humans will have themselves "scanned" and instantiated within a computer as Copies to achieve immortality, and the first to do this will be the elderly and the fatally ill. Egan goes several orders beyond the straightforward, and hits on some big questions: If I get moved into a computer, is it still "me"? Should sentient software be considered legally human? If I am a program running in a computer and I edit my memories and my most basic desires, have I become a new person? If I halt a Copy's program and archive their data indefinitely, have I "killed" the Copy? What would it be like to be forced to live forever within a computer, with no ability to commit suicide ("bail out")? If these are interesting philosophical questions today, they will become much more tangible over the coming decades as (or if, depending on your view) AI develops.

Now, a few caveats. A book that seriously considers AI must, I think, include the possibility of super-human AI as well. And Egan, like most authors, doesn't address this possibility. For example, in Permutation City there is an unexplained 17x slowdown of Copies relative to real time. It would seem that if the average Copy runs at a 17x slowdown, the millionaires among us would purchase enough supercomputing power to run at a rate equivalent to real time. And the billionaires would have enough hardware to run laps around flesh-and-blood humans. One could envision a scenario where every company that doesn't have a management team of hyperspeed Copies would be unable to compete. Egan mostly stays away from these unpleasant they-will-become-our-masters scenarios. (In another book of his called Diaspora, Egan does allow for faster-than-human robots called gleisners, but again assumes they will treat us well -- sort of a variant of Asimov's stunted-AI). I would love to see Egan deal with superhuman intelligences fairly.

The second half of the book relies very heavily on the author's intriguing "Dust Theory". While I don't necessarily find the idea very compelling as a physical theory, it does touch on some ideas that could very well have validity, such as the notion that a universe will exist if it has internal mathematical consistency (the Platonic view to its logical conclusion). Unfortunately at some points in the story the Dust Theory feels like a cheap trick, a bit of magic that can push the story in whatever arbitrary direction the author desires.

Despite the detractions, I enjoyed the book immensely and found the ending surprisingly poignant. Read it especially if you are intrigued by the notion of strong AI.
25 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9beb8804) étoiles sur 5 Thick? Yes! Esoteric? Yes! Awesome? Yes! 22 juillet 2005
Par Evan Lapann - Publié sur
Format: Poche
I don't reccommend reading this if you have trouble grasping abstract computer concepts, you will be completely lost. On the other hand, if you're into transhumanism and virtual reality you will flip your lid over this book. It's very esoteric, specialised, detailed, thick, whatever you want to call it, but that is because Greg Egan has fully realised the technology he is writing about, and wants to convey his vision as clearly as possible. Personaly, I appreciate that. I hate sci-fi books with unexplained technology that just teleports a whole planet or mutates a cat simply because it's convenient to the plot, with little or no explanation. Greg Egan has thought out the technology in this book, and because of that, an incredibly "out there" story becomes feasible. However, if you don't care about technology and it's implications, you might feel gipped by this book. The characters are one dimensional, the writing is nothing special, the locations are foggy, but holy @#$%, my mind has been blown. Definately worth tracking down and reading.
31 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9bfbf06c) étoiles sur 5 The greatest hard-SF book ever written. 23 septembre 1997
Par Eliezer Yudkowsky - Publié sur
Format: Poche
Diamond-hard science fiction has to be the most difficult form of literature in the world. If you had asked me to list three subjects on which it would be impossible to write hard SF, the fundamental nature of reality would have been #2. Forget the Hugo and Nebula; this book deserves a Nobel Prize. "Permutation City" is the only truly perfect hard SF book which I have ever read, and I've been reading Niven and Pournelle since age nine.

Permutation City is the only fiction book I keep in my reference section. As an SF fan since age seven, and a member of the first generation to grow up with computers, it takes an awful lot to give me a sense of future shock. Out of the thousands of SF books I've read, this is one of exactly two books that bowled me completely over. It's like sticking your brain in a high-voltage electrical socket. Read it or else.
48 internautes sur 57 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9b937ab0) étoiles sur 5 The book suceeds despite the first half 10 avril 2003
Par Travis Cottreau - Publié sur
Format: Poche
This is my first exploration of Greg Egan's writing. I have to say, the first half was bad reading. It was Egan playing around with what kind of technology and software the future will have in 50+ years. It is done from a completely computer programmer's point of view, which was interesting enough, but tedious.
Another reviewer of a different Egan book said it was like a detective story where the main character is sneaking into a building to get clues and sees a bit of paper and goes into the history of paper production since its inception and what it will be like in the future. The information is irrelevant to the story and actually detracts rather than enhances.
Despite this however, I was really glad to get past this and into the 2nd half of the book. Egan gives a feeling of what true immortality might be like and what real loneliness is. I don't know if he intended to, but that's what I took away from this book. With a new type of virtual processor tucked away into its own little universe, untouchable by anyone, the virtual people can live forever, not just until the end of our universe, but really and truely forever. I've never seen it explored before, and find it a great idea. Even someone scared of death must be a little hesitant about the offer of true immortality, not just no aging, not just outliving your friends, but outliving everything in the universe. Billions and billions of years. Forever is a long time and I found it a bit daunting.
Another idea that I really liked in the book was concerning loneliness. What's it like to be really alone. Well, some of the characters find this out as they sneak into the artificial universe created for other characters, but they can never interact with it. No one can ever see them or talk to them. They are cut off not only from the world, the universe, but also the only other people who might understand their situation. I can't imagine the utter aloneness of their situation. Sure, they can create anything they want in their simulations of the world, but really - how far can your own imagination go? How much can you create without getting bored?
This is a good book that could have been great if it were re-mixed with the right concentration of existing ideas. It's worth reading for the ideas alone.
I hear that other Egan books are similar, so if you read this one, I can only imagine that you'd enjoy other Greg Egan books. I will certainly be reading more of them.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9b939108) étoiles sur 5 It's not VR. It's life and death. And mind. 22 mai 1996
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Poche
When I read the jacket blurb, I thought, "Ho-hum. Another VR
story by some hack who doesn't know jack about computers." But I did
read it, and months later, I was still noticing things I had missed
when I read it.

"Permutation City" has two major strong points: Egan
understands computers (he's a part-time programmer), and it shows: I'm
a system administrator and part-time programmer myself, and the story
just sounds plausible throughout. Secondly, Egan explores all of the
ramifications of his assumptions, and the book is filled with "Wow, I
hadn't thought about that" moments.

Nominally, this novel is about a man who offers people a
chance at immortality by simulating them on a computer.
On another level, it's about fear of dying, and what constitutes
the self.
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