In the early part of the eighteenth century, Francesco Bianchini of Verona turned his primitive telescope - a refractor of only a few centimetres aperture but with an enormous focal length of around 20 metres - on the planet Venus. He recorded some of the first telescopic observations of Venus, outstanding in terms of care and accuracy. Bianchini determined the parallax of the planet, estimated the period of rotation, and carefully mapped surface features (although we now know that only Venus' atmospheric clouds can be seen in visible light). Peter Fay and Sally Beaumont have translated this historic document into English, keeping as much as possible of the flavour and appearance of the original 1728 publication. As part of his research, Peter Fay constructed and tested a telescope similar to the one Bianchini had used. The results are given as an appendix to the text. Astronomers and historians alike will find this book fascinating. It is published by Springer-Verlag London to celebrate the launch of the Astronomy publishing programme in the UK.
The book brings into relief the variety of approaches and disciplines that have informed the quest for a theory of cognition. The center of interest are the historical, geographical, and theoretical peripheries of classic AI's mainstream research program. The twelve chapters bring back into focus the variety of strategies and theoretical questions that researchers explored while working toward a scientific theory of cognition and pre-cognition.The volume is organized in four parts, each one including three essays. The first one deals with cybernetics, the approach that may be considered as the most important periphery of classic AI research. The second part focuses on the geographical periphery of AI research. It examines how the theories and techniques developed on AI's home ground were translated into countries with different cultures and traditions: Italy, France, and the Soviet Union. The third part focuses on AI's periphery understood in the cultural and historical meaning of the term. It contains essays that locate some of the central concepts of AI, like representation and computability, within a broader philosophical (Descartes, Aristotle, Leibniz) and technical background (programming theory and practice). The fourth and final part of the volume is focused directly on the limitation of Turing's classic computability theory and its possible alternatives, some of which were studied in the early years of AI's research (e.g. Ashby's re-entrant information model), while others have been intensely studied in recent times (quantum automata).
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