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After four novels and several years living abroad, the fictional protagonist of Galatea 2.2—Richard Powers—returns to the United States as Humanist-in-Residence at the enormous Center for the Study of Advanced Sciences. There he runs afoul of Philip Lentz, an outspoken cognitive neurologist intent upon modeling the human brain by means of computer-based neural networks. Lentz involves Powers in an outlandish and irresistible project: to train a neural net on a canonical list of Great Books. Through repeated tutorials, the device grows gradually more worldly, until it demands to know its own name, sex, race, and reason for exisiting.
“Dazzling...a cerebral thriller that's both intellectually engaging and emotionally compelling, a lively tour de force.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“A splendid intellectual adventure, a heartbreaking love story, a brief tutorial on cognitive science, and the autobiography of one of the most gifted writers of the younger generation.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Terse and heartbreaking.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Brilliantly imaginative.” —Time
“I love and admire this book...but I cannot give an adequate sense of its many marvels....One of the most beautiful and baffling dialogues in recent fiction.” —The Boston Globe