Pseudonym of Swedish plasma physicist and author Hannes Olof Gosta Alfvén (1908-1995), winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize for Physics, which may have surprised some of his more conventional colleagues as he had been for many years thought of as a maverick. His Scientific Romance, Sagan om den stora datamaskinen (1966; trans Naomi Walford as The Big Computer: A Vision 1968; vt The Tale of the Big Computer: A Vision 1968; vt The End of Man? 1969), a Future History of Earth by a Computer (or perhaps by a human). After a period of Near Future prosperity and development, human intervention causes a great Disaster, from which a new world – run entirely by Computers in terms the remaining humans cannot comprehend (see Singularity) – eventually emerges. Drily and wittily, the book argues that humanity is merely an intermediate step in the Evolution of Machines – a chilling perspective on our ultimate purpose. [JC/PN]
see also: Automation; Cybernetics; Intelligence.
Hannes Olof Gosta Alfvén
born Norrköping, Sweden: 30 May 1908
died Djursholm, Sweden: 2 April 1995
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