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The World in My Mind, My Mind in the World: Key Mechanisms of Consciousness in People, Animals and Machines

The World in My Mind, My Mind in the World: Key Mechanisms of Consciousness in People, Animals and Machines [Kindle Edition]

Igor Aleksander
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Not consciousness, but knowledge of consciousness: that is what this book communicates in a fascinating way. Consciousness is the thread that links the disappearing gorilla with the octopus suffering from a stomach ache, and the person under anaesthetic with a new born baby. How these are different, yet illustrative of consciousness, is revealed in this accessible book by one of the world's leading thinkers and neural computing engineers.
Igor Aleksander addresses this enigmatic topic, by making us understand the difference between what happens to us when thinking consciously and when sort of thinking when dreaming or when not conscious at all, as when sleeping, anaesthetised or knocked out by a blow on the head.
The book also tackles the larger topics of free will, choice, God, Freud (what is 'the unconscious'?), inherited traits and individuality, while exploding the myths and misinformation of many earlier mind-hijackers. He shares the journey towards building a new model of consciousness, with an invitation to understand 5 axioms or basic ideas, which we easily recognise in ourselves.

About the Author

Igor Aleksander is Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at Imperial College, London. Well established as a skilled and provocative communicator, he addresses both the general reader and the consciousness studies specialist.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2909 KB
  • Print Length: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Imprint Academic; 1 edition (12 Dec 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00H9BH02O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #690,944 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Philip Mayo VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Two of the most fundamental and ever-present characteristics of the reality that we experience as human beings are that of "consciousness" and that of "free will". Both of these concepts we find extremely difficult to define, or even to think about for very long without putting our minds into tailspin.

On consciousness we may ask such things as: What makes me, "me", and you, "you"? Is it a spiritual soul that makes me, "me"? If not, then what is it? Why am "I" not "you"? I can talk to myself - who, or what, is this "I" that is talking to "myself"? Is my dog conscious? How about my cat? My goldfish? If not, why not?

On free will, which we instinctively feel that we have - and which mankind has accepted as being the basis for both our religious and temporal accountability for the actions that we take - we find that if we logically try to pin down the concept of free will, that to maintain it we must relinquish the law of cause and effect. Do we have a choice in what we decide to do? Do we actually decide at all? If every effect must have a cause (which seems reasonable) then free will does not exist. If everything that happens, including what we do, is an inevitable (although tremendously complex) outcome of a cause and effect chain, then how could we have done otherwise? And if that is true then how can we be held morally responsible, either from a religious or temporal point of view, for that which we inescapably had to do? And if I insist that I do have free will, then, does my dog have free will? My goldfish??

In an extremely interesting book Professor Aleksander attempts to take the subject of consciousness back into the scientific world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Mind as Machine 13 Oct 2011
Igor Aleksander is renowned for his important work on machine learning. In this work, he continues the theme of his 2000 "How to Build a Mind", developing a body of thought that may prove foundational for machine consciousness. He takes an unusual approach, and that makes for interesting reading.

First, he develops five "axioms", aspects of mind that seem essential based on introspection. For example "thinking ahead". Here as in other aspects of his work, he exhibits a garage inventor's lack of inhibition in turning words to new purposes, which I came to enjoy after grasping his intention. These are not mathematical axioms, but necessary characteristics of mind. His main point is an architectural one - if we can devise a machine that exhibits all five axioms (and he sketches how this could be done) - we will have created consciousness.

In another romping aspect of this work, he reviews philosophers' positions from the Greeks to the 20th century, showing how their ideas can be understood in terms of his axioms. This isn't always successful.

In particular, he tries to treat human consciousness as simply a richer version of animal consciousness, and it's not. Human consciousness is a living pattern on the interface between the physical brain and the conceptual field. But that's another book!
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By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a must read for anyone keeping track of the literature on consciousness. It provides the A.I engineering perspective to complement that of the key philosophers; Dennett, Consciousness Explained, and Chalmers, The Conscious Mind; the neuroscientists, Edelman and Tonini, Wider Than the Sky, and the just possibly pertinent quantum voodoo of Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind. Unlike any of those other texts this, unusually for the subject matter, is a refreshingly quick and easy read.

So Igor, (I like that a book on the possibility of machine consciousness should be written by someone called Igor) takes a no-nonsense operationalist approach. He begins by identifying a set of interlocking processes that would appear to be transpiring whenever consciousness is taking place, as observed in our own surface introspection, and as intuited when we infer consciousness in others, human or animal. He quite deliberately avoids consideration of the higher thought aspect of consciousness, presumably specific to humans, and so intimately bound up with language. In this way he identifies five aspects of consciousness, which he considers to be axiomatic for the analysis of issues surronding it: i) the placing of the subject in a world, that is `out there', i.e. representation, or depiction as he prefers to call it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing, interesting content, impressive author 26 Oct 2005
By Epictetus - Published on
This is worth buying and reading. It will interest philosophers, engineers, scientists, mathematicians and historians. It is about the mind, but not from the perspectives that are common so far to those disciplines. The author has actually pioneered a particular type of thinking machine, based on a RAM intepretation of neural networks. But unusually for an engineering professor, Igor has a fine appreciation of the humanistic aspect of the mental realm and intentionality. His style is lucid and clear.

The focus of this book is the nature of consciousness. Igor posits five mechanisms that explain it, which are different to the Penrose model. I recommend this book.
2 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars absolute nonsense 9 July 2007
By Joseph R. Haun - Published on
If there had been, or will be, a way to use mathematical ways to explain the workings of the mind, I am sure that Einstein would have given us a clue already.
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