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The Cambridge Quintet:
Santa Fe Institute mathematician John Casti calls The Cambridge Quintet "scientific fiction," a work whose goal "is to present a lively and comprehensible exposition of the intellectual and emotional uncertainties involved in shaping the future of human knowledge." Casti sets the way-back machine for 1949, and imagines that C.P. Snow (pundit, civil servant, and physicist) hosts a dinner party in his rooms at Cambridge University to discuss the possibility that a machine could be made to think. The guests: philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, mathematician and computer demigod Alan Turing, physicist Erwin Schrödinger, and geneticist J.B.S. Haldane. Not surprisingly, the party comes to no single conclusion, but Casti's format provides a comprehensible, entertaining introduction to an important question, and to the ideas and personalities of some of the 20th century's most influential (and eccentric) thinkers. [via]