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Machine Dreams

Machine Dreams
Economics Becomes a Cyborg Science

  • Date Published: December 2001
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521775267

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About the Authors
  • This is the first cross-over book in the history of science written by an historian of economics, combining a number of disciplinary and stylistic orientations. In it Philip Mirowshki shows how what is conventionally thought to be "history of technology" can be integrated with the history of economic ideas. His analysis combines Cold War history with the history of the postwar economics profession in America and later elsewhere, revealing that the Pax Americana had much to do with the content of such abstruse and formal doctrines such as linear programming and game theory. He links the literature on "cyborg science" found in science studies to economics, an element missing in the literature to date. Mirowski further calls into question the idea that economics has been immune to postmodern currents found in the larger culture, arguing that neoclassical economics has surreptitiously participated in the desconstruction of the integral "Self." Finally, he argues for a different style of economics, an alliance of computational and institutional themes, and challenges the widespread impression that there is nothing else besides American neoclassical economic theory left standing after the demise of Marxism. Philip Mirowski is Carl Koch Professor of Economics and the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame. He teaches in both the economics and science studies communities and has written frequently for academic journals. He is also the author of More Heat than Light (Cambridge, 1992) and editor of Natural Images in Economics (Cambridge, 1994) and Science Bought and Sold (University of Chicago, 2001).

    • Highly controversial assessment of how economics has modeled itself on mathematical and computer theory and the consequences of this
    • Author is world-famous for his iconoclastic views, here combining history of technology, economics, and computer science
    • Truly brilliant, scathing analysis of postwar economics and economists
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "As history, Machine Dreams is a remarkable achievement. It is hard to imagine a historian who was not an economist (as Mirowski is) being able to encompass the economics of the second half of the 20th century in its diversity and technicality." London Review of Books

    "Phil Mirowski reminds me of an investigative reporter with a world-class story. He has gone straight to the heart of a really interesting problem--the emergence of economics' modern era in the crucible of World War II--and come back with a detailed account of events at The Cowles Commission and the RAND Corporation. It is news, the best that can be said quickly. It is opinion: cyborg economics (meaning purely cognitive economics) is not the sort of science Mirowski wants to see. And it is sensationally interesting. You don't have to agree with his conclusions to recognize that Mirowksi is the most imaginative and provocative writer at work today on the recent history of economics. Machine Dreams is a real-time cousin to The Difference Engine .". David Warsh, The Boston Globe

    "Machine Dreams is an astonishing performance of synthetic scholarship. Mirowski traces the present-day predicaments of economic theory to its intellectual reformulation and institutional restructuring by military funding and in the crucibles of World War II and the Cold War. His demonstration that the mathematical economics of the postwar era is a complex response to the challenges of "cyborg" science, the attempt to unify the study of human beings and intelligent machines through John von Neumann's general theory of automata, is bound to be controversial. His critics, however, will have to contend with a breathtakingly wide range of published and unpublished evidence in fields ranging from psychology to operations research he presents. This noir history of economic thought will change its readers' understanding of twentieth century economics profoundly." Duncan Foley, New School University

    "In Machine Dreams the most exciting historian of economic thought of our time takes on one of the most fascinating themes of the intellectual history of the 20th century--the dream of creating machines that can think and how this has affected the social sciences. The result is an extraordinary book that deserves to be read by everyone interested in the social sciences." Richard Swedberg, University of Stockholm

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2001
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521775267
    • length: 672 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 155 x 40 mm
    • weight: 0.99kg
    • contains: 5 b/w illus. 3 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Acknowledgements
    1. Cyborg agonistes
    2. Some cyborg genealogies
    or, how the demon got its bots
    3. John von Neumann and the cyborg incursion into economics
    4. The military, the scientists and the revised rules of the game
    5. Do cyborgs dream of efficient markets?
    6. The empire strikes back
    7. Core wars
    8. Machines who think versus machines that sell
    Envoi
    References
    Index.

  • Author

    Philip Mirowski, University of Notre Dame, Indiana

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