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Finalists for the 1992-1993 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes : SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY

September 05, 1993|MARJORIE LEWELLYN MARKS | Marjorie Lewellyn Marks is manager of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and a contributing author of "Life Guidance Through Literature" (American Library Assn.)

FUZZY LOGIC by Daniel McNeill and Paul Freiberger (Simon & Schuster). New reason to worry about the relative importance of American technology in the global market is provided by this alarming account of how fuzzy logic, the intuitively compelling technology that boosts computer intelligence by making it more "human," was so long and rigorously rejected by American academia and industry. While conventional logic divides the world into yes and no, fuzzy logic deals in shades of gray, accounting for its humanizing propensity. Originally created by the U.S. over 25 years ago, but subsequently ignored by business and academia in this country, fuzzy logic was made profitable by Japan and is being sold back to us for millions of dollars. The authors note that fuzzy logic is responsible for Japanese trains that stop and start so smoothly that passengers don't bother holding onto straps. Other possibilities afforded by personal and business relationship with fuzzy logic range from software that predicts the stock market based on the daily news to sex robots with a human-like repertoire of behavior. Highly readable, accessible and entertaining.

The Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists and winners are selected in each category by an independent panel of judges. Winners will be announced in the Book Review issue of October 31.

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