Introducing a cast of known and unknown characters, George B. Dyson traces the course of the information revolution, illuminating the lives and work of visionaries - from the time of Thomas Hobbes to the time of John von Neumann - who foresaw the development of artificial intelligence, artificial life, and artificial mind. This book derives both its title and its outlook from Samuel Butler's 1863 essay "Darwin Among the Machines." Observing the beginnings of miniaturization, self-reproduction, and telecommunication among machines, Butler predicted that nature's intelligence, only temporarily subservient to technology, would resurface to claim our creations as her own. Weaving a cohesive narrative among his brilliant predecessors, Dyson constructs a straightforward, convincing, and occasionally frightening view of the evolution of mind in the global network, on a level transcending our own. Dyson concludes that we are in the midst of an experiment that echoes the prehistory of human intelligence and the origins of life. Just as the exchange of coded molecular instructions brought life as we know it to the early earth's primordial soup, and as language and mind combined to form the culture in which we live, so, in the digital universe, are computer programs and worldwide networks combining to produce an evolutionary theater in which the distinctions between nature and technology are increasingly obscured. Nature, believes Dyson, is on the side of the machines.