Professor Edward A. Feigenbaum and Pamela McCorduck have authored an important new book called The Fifth Generation; Artificial Intelligence and Japan’s Computer Challenge to the World, (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1983, 275 pp., $19.95). Feigenbaum and McCorduck describe in detail the Japanese plans to design and build the next generation of computers which will have amazing capabilities for processing information and interacting with people.
The authors believe that the Western nations, especially the U.S., are in danger of falling behind in the field of microelectronic technology because of their inability to meet the Japanese challenge with a unified program of their own. They insist that not only is it crucial for the economic survival of a nation to stay in the forefront of these developments, but that there are also significant repercussions for national defence.
Written by obvious experts with a knack for clarity, this book is of immense help to non-experts in becoming informed about the state of this technology and its potential impact upon our lives. The humanist faith of the authors is obvious throughout, especially when they suggest that microelectronic technology and the predicted capabilities of the fifth generation computer may lead us to a renaissance of religion, focussed not on a transcendent god, but on the greatness of the human spirit. In short, this is an excellent introduction to a complex and fascinating subject that will challenge Christians in a profound way.