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Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World

Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World (ISBN 978-0201483406) is a 1994 book by Kevin Kelly. Major themes in Out of Control are cybernetics, emergence, self-organization, complex systems and chaos theory and it can be seen as a work of Techno-utopianism.

The central theme of the book is that several fields of contemporary science and philosophy point in the same direction: intelligence is not organized in a centralized structure but much more like a bee-hive of small simple components. Kelly applies this view to bureaucratic organizations, intelligent computers as well as to the human brain.

Before being cast as the role of Neo for the 1999 film The Matrix, the Wachowski Brothers asked Keanu Reeves to read this book (as well as two others) before even opening the script.

Contents

Table of Contents (each subheading is the title of an online page in that chapter)

Chapter 1: THE MADE AND THE BORN

Neo-biological civilization

The triumph of the bio-logic

Learning to surrender our creations

Chapter 2: HIVE MIND

Bees do it: distributed governance

The collective intelligence of a mob

Asymmetrical invisible hands

Decentralized remembering as an act of perception

More is more than more, it's different

Advantages and disadvantages of swarms

The network is the icon of the 21st century

Chapter 3: MACHINES WITH AN ATTITUDE

Entertaining machines with bodies

Fast, cheap and out of control

Getting smart from dumb things

The virtues of nested hierarchies

Using the real world to communicate

No intelligence without bodies

Mind/body black patch psychosis

Chapter 4: ASSEMBLING COMPLEXITY

Biology: the future of machines

Restoring a prairie with fire and oozy seeds

Random paths to a stable ecosystem

How to do everything at once

The Humpty Dumpty challenge

Chapter 5: COEVOLUTION

What color is a chameleon on a mirror?

The unreasonable point of life

Poised in the persistent state of almost falling

Rocks are slow life

Cooperation without friendship or foresight

Chapter 6: THE NATURAL FLUX

Equilibrium is death

What came first, stability or diversity?

Ecosystems: between a superorganism and an identity workshop

The origins of variation

Life immortal, ineradicable

Negentropy

The fourth discontinuity: the circle of becoming

Chapter 7: EMERGENCE OF CONTROL

In ancient Greece the first artificial self

Maturing of mechanical selfhood

The toilet: archetype of tautology

Self-causing agencies

Chapter 8: CLOSED SYSTEMS

Bottled life, sealed with clasp

Mail-order Gaia

Man breathes into algae, algae breathes into man

The very big ecotechnic terrarium

An experiment in sustained chaos

Another synthetic ecosystem, like California

Chapter 9: POP GOES THE BIOSPHERE

Co-pilots of the 100 million dollar glass ark

Migrating to urban weed

The deployment of intentional seasons

A cyclotron for the life sciences

The ultimate technology

Chapter 10: INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY

Pervasive round-the-clock plug in

Invisible intelligence

Bad-dog rooms vs. nice-dog rooms

Programming a commonwealth

Closed-loop manufacturing

Technologies of adaptation

Chapter 11: NETWORK ECONOMICS

Having your everything amputated

Instead of crunching, connecting

Factories of information

Your job: managing error

Connecting everything to everything

Chapter 12: E-MONEY

Crypto-anarchy: encryption always wins

The fax effect and the law of increasing returns

Superdistribution

Anything holding an electric charge w ill hold a fiscal charge

Peer-to-peer finance with nanobucks

Fear of underwire economies

Chapter 13: GOD GAMES

Electronic godhood

Theories with an interface

A god descends into his polygonal creation

The transmission of simulacra

Memorex warfare

Seamless distributed armies

A 10,000 piece hyperreality

The consensual ascii superorganism

Letting go to win

Chapter 14: IN THE LIBRARY OF FORM

An outing to the universal library

The space of all possible pictures

Travels in biomorph land

Harnessing the mutator

Sex in the library

Breeding art masterpieces in three easy steps

Tunnelling through randomness

Chapter 15: ARTIFICIAL EVOLUTION

Tom Ray's electric-powered evolution machine

What you can't engineer, evolution can

Mindless acts performed in parallel

Computational arms race

Taming wild evolution

Stupid scientists evolving smart molecules

Death is the best teacher

The algorithmic genius of ants

The end of engineering's hegemony

Chapter 16: THE FUTURE OF CONTROL

Cartoon physics in toy worlds

Birthing a synthespian

Robots without hard bodies

The agents of ethnological architecture

Imposing destiny upon free will

Mickey Mouse rebooted after clobbering Donald

Searching for co-control

Chapter 17: AN OPEN UNIVERSE

To enlarge the space of being

Primitives of visual possibilities

How to program happy accidents

All survive by hacking the rules

The handy-dandy tool of evolution

Hang-gliding into the game of life

Life verbs

Homesteading hyperlife territory

Chapter 18: THE STRUCTURE OF ORGANIZED CHANGE

The revolution of daily evolution

Bypassing the central dogma

The difference, if any, between learning and evololution

The evolution of evolution

The explanation of everything

Chapter 19: POSTDARWINISM

The incompleteness of Darwinian theory

Natural selection is not enough

Intersecting lines on the tree of life

The premise of non-random mutations

Even monsters follow rules

When the abstract is embodied

The essential clustering of life

DNA can't code for everything

An uncertain density of biological search space

Mathematics of natural selection

Chapter 20: THE BUTTERFLY SLEEPS

Order for free

Net math: a counter-intuitive style of math

Lap games, jets, and auto-catalytic sets

A question worth asking

Self-tuning vivisystems

Chapter 21: RISING FLOW

A 4 billion year ponzi scheme

What evolution wants

Seven trends of hyper-evolution

Coyote trickster self-evolver

Chapter 22: PREDICTION MACHINERY

Brains that catch baseballs

The flip side of chaos

Positive myopia

Making a fortune from the pockets of predictability

Operation Internal Look, Ahead

Varieties of prediction

Change in the service of non-change

Telling the future is what the systems are for

The many problems with global models

We are all steering

Chapter 23: WHOLES, HOLES, AND SPACES

What ever happened to cybernetics?

The holes in the web of scientific knowledge

To be astonished by the trivial

Hypertext: the end of authority

A new thinking space

Chapter 24: THE NINE LAWS OF GOD

How to make something from nothing

Hijacking the universe

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

A to L

M to Z

Sources and notes

Further reading

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