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On the face of it, Manuel De Landa's War in the Age of Intelligent Machines  (Zone Books, 1991) is a book of military history, and I find its cold militarism a little off-putting.   Nevertheless, it's very very smart, and will be a touchstone for a lot of the ideas I'll be bringing up for discussion.

De Landa takes a "non-linear" approach to history, looking less at historical eras and narratives of progress and more at the historical circumstances of particular objects and things.   In this book, he traces the origin of the autonomous robot back to the communications issues facing the antiquity's conquering armies, giving a pretty comprehensive take on computing history and information science in the process. 

I'm providing the text in its entirety if you want some intense holiday reading, but will be recommending short excerpts to help inform our discussions in later posts.

If you find yourself getting into it the book, please consider purchasing it.  We'll inevitably talk about the practice and politics of piracy, but supporting people and publishers that you like is always a good thing.