Sophisticated Idiots

My review of M. Beatrice Fazi’s Contingent Computation, which I discussed previously, is now up at Review 31:

‘The trouble with computers,’ as Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor once remarked, ‘is that they’re very sophisticated idiots. They do exactly what you tell them at amazing speed’. As M. Beatrice Fazi’s Contingent Computation argues, this is only the beginning of our troubles with computers.

I swear I would have used the same title, and opening quotation, if I hadn’t had issues with the book’s handling of certain technical matters. I came to it interested in its premise and disposed to like it, and found much to enjoy and admire in its discussion of aisthesis, amongst other matters. But I was troubled both by its mistakes, which were both serious and quite rudimentary, and by the fact that no-one working on or around the book had noticed them, or ensured that the manuscript was looked over by someone who might have done so.