Pamela McCorduck is the author or co-author of ten published books. Both her fiction and nonfiction deal with aspects of science—mainly the psychological impact of computing, especially of artificial intelligence, and in her later books, of the sciences of complexity.
She began her writing career as a novelist, and published two critically praised novels. In what she believed would be a temporary detour, she moved to nonfiction, and only returned to writing novels after six published works of nonfiction.
Pamela McCorduck’s recent novels reflect many of the same interests as her nonfiction. The Edge of Chaos (2007) and Bounded Rationality(2012), the first two parts of a planned trilogy, called Santa Fe Stories, are centered on a group of characters formally or informally connected with the Santa Fe Institute and its revolutionary research into the sciences of complexity. The Edge of Chaos was short-listed for Best Fiction in the 2008 New Mexico Book Awards. She is at work on the final volume of the trilogy.
Her nonfiction books include Machines Who Think, The Fifth Generation, The Rise of the Expert Company, The Universal Machine, Aaron’s Code, and The Futures of Women. In its original year of publication, Machines Who Think was cited by the New York Public Library as a book of particular merit, and twenty-five years later, the journal AI Magazinedevoted a two-page article to the book’s quarter century of influence. In March 2004, a 25th anniversary edition was published, which includes a substantial afterword to bring the history of artificial intelligence up to date. Her nonfiction books have been translated into all the major European and Asian languages, and The Fifth Generation was an international best-seller. Her work has appeared in journals ranging from Cosmopolitan and Omni to the New York Times, Daedalus, and the Michigan Quarterly Review. She has been a contributing editor to Wired.
McCorduck has consulted for a wide range of firms and other organizations in the high technology, financial, and transportation sectors. She served on a panel to advise the National Academy of Engineering about the future of that field, and, with Nancy Ramsey, has co-authored commissioned studies on women in information technology (for the National Sciences Foundation) and women in design (for a large international design firm). She has appeared on many television shows, including PBS’s News Hour and the CBS Evening News. CNN based a two-part documentary on the book she and Ramsey co-authored, The Futures of Women.
She received a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.F.A. from Columbia University. She now divides her time between New York City and Santa Fe with her husband, Joseph F. Traub.