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How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed Hardcover – 28 Feb 2013

3.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd. (28 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715645374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715645376
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.1 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 415,178 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 the 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 also published by Duckworth.


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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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
I was once a `singularitarian', but when Ray Kurzweil failed to predict the financial clash of 2008, in The Singularity is Near, I wondered. The book even has a financial graph, with curves going upwards `exponentially'... Another buzz-word I learnt from Ray Kurzweil and my hero, Terence McKenna. I'm having second thought about being a disciple now!

The psychedelic philosopher, Robert Anton Wilson, once joked that a disciple is an s looking for a b to attach itself to! We can learn much from b's and disciples, like myself, and so without further ado, let us examine many b's and hols from the last few decades; to taste our present singularity religion.

Let us use a few examples of b's and s'holes from the archives of history to see how this singularity got started (this is more Terence McKenna's version, but both McKenna and Kurzweil overlap in many ways). In the 1950's, a stiff academic called Richard Alpert, wasting his life away at Harvard University by running rats around a maze, discovered a magical potion that lifted a strip off of the great veil. He told his colleagues, one being Dr Timothy Leary, mentioned above, and off they went to found a new cultural revolt; the LSD revolt. Dr Leary's vehicle of preference was chemical LSD, off course, because of the mind expanding quality of the drug. Indeed, chemical LSD would expand Tim's mind, like a big balloon, to see over the game. The game being the military industrial complex and monkey politics that millions from that youthful generation realised was a con. Instead of war, this generation tuned into cosmic consciousness, free love and hot pants. So what was all that about?

Fast forward 30 odd years, to the late 1990's, and the LSD revolt gave birth to electronic LSD, that is, cyberspace.
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