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Astro Teller

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To purchase Exegesis

Title: Exegesis
Author: Astro Teller
Genre: Novel
Written: 1997
Length: 224 pages
Availability: Exegesis - US
Exegesis - UK
Exegesis - Canada
Hello, Alice - Deutschland

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Our Assessment:

D : a decent idea, weakly realized -- and bad science

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Times . 4/7/1998 John Naughton

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers.

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The complete review's Review:

       An appropriate book to criticize on the internet, Mr.Teller's little novel is, more than anything, a disappointment. It is about artificial intelligence, positing a computer (Edgar) that stealthily grows more "intelligent." It is able to gather knowledge, surfing the internet on its own, as it were -- a clever though not exactly original idea. Hunted down by the powers that be, with computer scientist Alice Lu as its only (very wary) ally, Teller tries to generate some excitement as the entity Edgar fights for survival -- while raising the spectre that perhaps the survival of Edgar is not such a great idea.
       There is lots of potential here, but little of it is realized. The shame of it is that Mr. Teller is apparently someone who actually is working at the forefronts of AI (artificial intelligence), but for some reason he dumbs down those aspects of the book, simplifying many of the AI ideas to the point where it is hard to take the book seriously. A quick, easy read, it is written almost entirely as an exchange of e-mails between the computer and Alice. Stylistically it is rather weak: some scenes are effectively set, but most of the (electronic) dialogue is wooden. That could be forgiven -- it is, after all, a novel of ideas -- but Teller forsakes his idea as well, reducing them to a point where the book can not stand up to any scientific scrutiny. Exegesis is, in all respects, a failure.

       Mr. Teller seems to have done rather well by the book. There is a neat site devoted to it at his Random House publisher's site and Vintage did market the attractive little book effectively. However, we could not suppress our smiles seeing copies for sale at a dollar a pop at the local bookstore. The market wins: crap won't sell. What is sad, however, is that it makes publishers more wary of books on this subject and the talented writer who writes one might have a harder time getting it published.

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Exegesis: Reviews: Astro Teller: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Eric "Astro" Teller works in Artificial Intelligence. And, yes, he is related to Mr.H-Bomb himself.

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