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How to Create a Mind [Paperback]

Ray Kurzweil
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Jan 2014
How does the brain recognise images? Could computers drive? How is it possible for man-made programs to beat the worlds best chess players? In this fascinating look into the human mind, Ray Kurzweil relates the advanced brain processes we take for granted in our everyday lives, our sense of self and intellect and explains how artificial intelligence, once only the province of science fiction, is rapidly catching up. Effortlessly unravelling such key areas as love, learning and logic, he shows how the building blocks for our future machines exist underneath. Kurzweil examines the radical possibilities of a world in which humans and intelligent machines could live side by side.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (30 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715647334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715647332
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Ray Kurzweil is the best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence --Bill Gates

Kurzweil knows a lot about new technology and he knows how to make it sound fun. He is dazzling in his enthusiasm for things to come, and has a grasp of the exciting developments pulsing through the intersection of science and technology --Financial Times

About the Author

Ray Kurzweil is Googles Director of Engineering, a world-renowned inventor, thinker and futurist. A recipient of the National Medal of Technology and 12 honorary doctorates, he is the author of six books and has been described by the Wall Street Journal as the restless genius. His bestselling book The Singularity is Near is published by Duckworth.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making Up a Mind of One's Own 20 April 2013
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Ever since I read "Singularity is Near" I've been fascinated by Ray Kurzweil - his wirings, ideas, a predictions. He's not been afraid to go on the limb and make some brave and seemingly outlandish forecasts about the upcoming technological advances and their oversize impact on people and society. One of the main reasons why I always found his predictions credible is that they can, in a nutshell, be reduced to just a couple of seemingly simple observations: 1. Information-technological advances are happening exponentially, and 2. Information technology in particular is driving all the other technological and societal changes. The rest, to put it rather crudely, are the details.

In "How to Create a Mind" Kurzweil zeroes in on just one scientific/technological project - creating a functioning replica of the human mind. He uses certain insights from information technology and neurology to propose his own idea of what human mind (and by extension human intelligence) are all about, and to propose how to go about emulating it "in silico." Here too Kurzweil reduces a seemingly intractable problem that the humanity has grappled with for millennia to just a couple of overarching insights. In his view the essence of virtually all cognitive processes can be reduced to the scientific paradigm of "pattern recognition" - an ability of computational agent to identify and classify patterns. And the information theoretical and engineering tool for emulating the kind of pattern recognition that goes on in a mind is the mathematical technique called "hierarchical hidden Markov chains" (HHMS). What gives Kurzweil confidence about this insight and this kind of approach are the successes that he has had in starting and marketing companies which used HHMS for speech and character recognition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting book, doesn't give enough away 20 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was given the title it has to sell more copies. Kurzweil doesn't reveal any secrets and doesn't describe any methods that haven't been around for a long time in academia and industry already.

As a software engineer working on pattern recognition systems I bought this book as soon as it was available, the book gave me a lot of ideas and I'm very happy I bought it. The central thesis seems to be the same as Jeff Hawkins' On Intelligence - obviously a big influence for Kurzweil - but with a focus on developments since On Intelligence was published.

Kurzweil got employed at Google very shortly after publishing this book so he could lead a team to create the mind that he's described. He's said in interviews that he left some details out of the book because he didn't want to give too much away.

Overall a good read that will provoke a lot of constructive thought, but don't expect for anyone to actually build a mind based on just this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Brief Summary and Review 16 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover
*A full executive summary of this book is available at newbooksinbrief dot com.

When IBM's Deep Blue defeated humanity's greatest chess player Garry Kasparov in 1997 it marked a major turning point in the progress of artificial intelligence (AI). A still more impressive turning point in AI was achieved in 2011 when another creation of IBM named Watson defeated Jeopardy! phenoms Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter at their own game. As time marches on and technology advances we can easily envision still more impressive feats coming out of AI. And yet when it comes to the prospect of a computer ever actually matching human intelligence in all of its complexity and intricacy, we may find ourselves skeptical that this could ever be fully achieved. There seems to be a fundamental difference between the way a human mind works and the way even the most sophisticated machine works--a qualitative difference that could never be breached. Famous inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil begs to differ.

To begin with--despite the richness and complexity of human thought--Kurzweil argues that the underlying principles and neuro-networks that are responsible for higher-order thinking are actually relatively simple, and in fact fully replicable. Indeed, for Kurzweil, our most sophisticated AI machines are already beginning to employ the same principles and are mimicking the same neuro-structures that are present in the human brain.

Beginning with the brain, Kurzweil argues that recent advances in neuroscience indicate that the neocortex (whence our higher-level thinking comes) operates according to a sophisticated (though relatively straightforward) pattern recognition scheme.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant book 15 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Loved this book, it has focused me and moved me forward when I thought there was no where else to go.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Started out great 4 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Really interesting start but I thought it degenerated too much into a philosophical discussion. Would have liked a more practical guide!;-)
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Yet another homunculus theory of the 'mind' 6 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover
Purchasers of this book would do well to read Colin McGinn's review in the New York Review of Books; here is part of it:

"There is another glaring problem with Kurzweil's book: the relentless and unapologetic use of homunculus language. Kurzweil writes: 'The firing of the axon is that pattern recognizer shouting the name of the pattern: "Hey guys, I just saw the written word 'apple.'"' Again:

"'If, for example, we are reading from left to right and have already seen and recognized the letters "A," "P," "P," and "L," the "APPLE" recognizer will predict that it is likely to see an "E" in the next position. It will send a signal down to the "E" recognizer saying, in effect, "Please be aware that there is a high likelihood that you will see your 'E' pattern very soon, so be on the lookout for it." The "E" recognizer then adjusts its threshold such that it is more likely to recognize an "E."'

"Presumably (I am not entirely sure) Kurzweil would agree that such descriptions cannot be taken literally: individual neurons don't say things or predict things or see things -- though it is perhaps as if they do. People say and predict and see, not little bunches of neurons, still less bits of machines. Such anthropomorphic descriptions of cortical activity must ultimately be replaced by literal descriptions of electric charge and chemical transmission (though they may be harmless for expository purposes). Still, they are not scientifically acceptable as they stand.

"But the problem bites deeper than that, for two reasons. First, homunculus talk can give rise to the illusion that one is nearer to accounting for the mind, properly so-called, than one really is.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book
Reveals all the basic things in life that we take for granted. One of the best books I have ever read in my life.
Published 2 months ago by Oosman
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and complete
A very clear and complete description of how brain works and in what sense technology will enable its emulation. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Luis Nero Alves
1.0 out of 5 stars Name-dropper incarnate
The author correctly attributes the concept of a "stored program" computer, insofar as the concept permits the instructions and addresses of "stored programs" to be modified on the... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Prof Frederick de Neumann
4.0 out of 5 stars An effort but still very apocalyptic
We must understand this title that pretends to tell you how you can create a mind has to be taken literally. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jacques COULARDEAU
1.0 out of 5 stars 2 major fails in chapter 1 - the author writes about what he does not...
(1) Author states that his Crookes Radiometer rotates away from the dark sides, because of the momentum of photons. If this were true, it would rotate the other way. Read more
Published 17 months ago by george
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind Storms
Basicly, I think the book consists of three parts:
In the first part of the book we are introduced to pattern recognizers
and how the human neocortex might work. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Simon Laub
5.0 out of 5 stars Our brains.
As I am very interested in how our brain functions, this book goes a long way in explaining complex processes revealing its inner workings and what a remarkable organ the brain is.
Published 18 months ago by Rosanna Tunk
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why the patterns theory of mind can help to reveal "the secret...
The title of my review is based on this passage in the Introduction, one in which Ray Kurzweil discusses recent neuroscience research that will, eventually, reveal the secret of... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Robert Morris
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