A month or two ago I was asked to give a list of my favourite books to be featured in the
Bookshelf in BBC Focus Magazine. It's part of the publicity we're drumming up for my new
Digitized. It was a difficult task to choose. I get most pleasure from reading science
fiction, but here I decided to focus (mainly) on non-fiction. Although I'm a computer scientist
favourite books are not really just about computers - the books that I think have been most
influential in my research and in my field tend to be those that give us a new perspective on
we do. After some thought, I came up with this list:
The Blind Watchmaker - Dawkins inspired a whole generation of computer
scientists and artists with this work, which even included output from a
computer program he had written to evolve forms.
Evolutionary Art and Computers - William Latham and Stephen Todd showed
how powerful evolution in computers can be. This book inspired me personally
through my early career.
Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives. David Eagleman. A quirky but fascinating
view of life and death, which includes some science fiction and
Cambrian Intelligence: The Early History of the New AI (Bradford Books).
Rodney Brooks helped change the way we approach Artificial Intelligence by
thinking about emergence, bottom up processes instead of engineered, top down
The Unnatural Nature of Science. Lewis Wolpert - Like all his books, this is a
joy to read. It's also a fascinating exploration of what science is and is
not. To a computer scientist this is essential reading, for Lewis explores the
difference between science and technology - a topic often confused in my
In their wisdom, the BBC Focus folks decided to focus on three. They rang me for an
(my words may be online somewhere as a podcast as well). This article was the result: