Galatea 2.2Richard Powers
1 April 2010
Published by Atlantic Books
Galatea 2.2 is a dazzling novel of ideas, that interrogates why we make the choices we do, and what constitutes the human soul.
After many years of living abroad, a young writer returns to the United States to take up the position of Humanist-in-Residence at the Centre for the Study of Advanced Sciences. There he encounters Philip Lentz, an outspoken cognitive neurologist intent on using computers to model the human brain. Lentz involves the writer in an outlandish and irresistible project: to train a neural net by reading a canonical list of Great Books. Through repeated tutorials, the machine grows gradually more worldly, until it demands to know its own age, sex, race, and reason for existing…