How to Build an Android

The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection

David Dufty

Picador

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In this remarkable behind-the-scenes narrative, David F. Dufty follows a group of scientists on their mission to create “Phil,” a life-size android of famed science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. We witness the obstacles the scientists encounter and the innovative solutions they apply to overcome them. The fact that the subject Phil was built to mimic was a man notoriously paranoid and fascinated by artificial intelligence colors the story all the way to its unforgettable end, when the robot’s head goes missing, never to be seen again. A riveting story that will capture science enthusiasts and general readers alike, How to Build An Android traces the line where artificial intelligence and humans collide.
 

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Book Excerpts

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1. A Strange Machine
 
In December 2005, an android head went missing from an America West Airlines flight between Dallas and Las Vegas. The roboticist who built it, David Hanson, had been transporting it to northern California, to the headquarters of Google, where it was scheduled to be the centerpiece of a special exhibition for the company’s top engineers and scientists.
Hanson was a robot designer in his mid-thirties—nobody was quite sure of his age—with tousled jet-black hair and sunken eyes. He had worked late the night before on his presentation for Google

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Reviews

Praise for How to Build an Android

“Stranger than fiction.”—The Washington Post

“[Dufty] knows the atmosphere of the Institute for Intelligent Systems from the inside. He ably describes the fertile, feverish atmosphere of intellectual endeavor, the kind of place where a crazy idea—like building a Philip K. Dick android—could take hold.”—Los Angeles Times

“Dufty provides an exhaustive understanding of how to build an android....He is hip to campus office politics and the way egos rub together, and the suspenseful anxiety of grant applications....The character who ends up being most intriguing is poor nonhuman Phil, whose unknown destiny gives the book a tinge of sorrow.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Dufty explains how Dick was made into a machine by an endearingly nerdy group of roboticists. [He] uses the unlikely story to meditate on the state of robotics and artificial intelligence.”—Slate

“[The creators’] fascination with the aesthetic evolution of androids into more human-looking forms makes for especially compelling reading.”—The Dallas Morning News

“A fascinating and mind-bending book.”—Booklist

“You've got to love a book that includes physics-lecturing fish, android Einsteins, and researchers intent on building robot replicas of their wives and girlfriends. Not to mention Philip K. Dick himself. This is an instant classic of weird science.”—Alex Boese, bestselling author of Elephants on Acid and Electric Sheep

"This story is touching, absorbing and, ultimately, an exploration of what it means to be human."—The Spectator

“The best kind of popular science...Leaves you hungry to know more, and wondering at the possibilities that may lie ahead.”—Australian Bookseller & Publisher

“Literally incredible.”—The Age

"[Dufty's] reconstruction through interviews with the participants is an appealing depiction of brilliant minds dreaming big on shoestring budgets."—The New York Times Book Review

"A highly technical story that Dufty manages to make intriguing and accessible to less tech-savvy readers...A fascinating story."—Kirkus

"Dufty engagingly chronicles the efforts of a team of roboticists to build an android modeled on science fiction writer Philip K. Dick...A fun read."—Publishers Weekly


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About the Author

David Dufty

David F. Dufty is a senior research officer at the Australian Bureau of Statistics. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Memphis at the time the android was being developed and worked closely with the team of scientists who created it. He completed a psychology degree with honors at the University of Newcastle and has a PhD in psychology from Macquarie University.

David F. Dufty

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Available Formats and Book Details

How to Build an Android
The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection
David Dufty

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
June 2013
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781250032157
ISBN10: 1250032156
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 288 pages, Includes 11 black-and-white photographs throughout
$16.00

Hardcover

Hardcover
Henry Holt and Co.
June 2012
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780805095517
ISBN10: 0805095519
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 288 pages, TK: illustrations throughout
$26.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
June 2012
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9780805095579
ISBN10: 0805095578
288 pages
$9.99
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From The Publisher

Picador

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