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Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology (Bradford Books) Paperback – 1 Jan 1984


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Product details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press; New edition edition (1 Jan. 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262521121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262521123
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 247,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"The small and cheerful book at hand, by a well-known researcher on the brain from Tubingen, has exploited the virtues of the style with unprecedented consistency, originality and aptness. His thought experiments are not analytic efforts to extract what principles lie behind an imagined observation but are instead synthetic constructions. They are little toys of the mind, devised out of simple if fictional components, entirely functionally described... [A] crisp, cogent book full of intellectual delights." Philip Morrison , Scientific American

About the Author

Valentino Braitenberg was a director of the Max Planck Institute of Biological Cybernetics and Honorary Professor of Information Science at the University of Tubingen, Germany.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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This is an exercise in fictional science, or science fiction, if you like that better. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 May 1999
Format: Paperback
With respect, I think the previous reviewer has missed the point of this excellent book. Yes, Braitenberg "personifies" simple electro-mechanical relationships. But his whole point in doing so is to make us aware of how readily we personify animate objects in our environment, including each other.
With a playfulness not usually found in the writings of neuroscientists, Braitenberg starts with very simple machines or vehicles that respond to their environment. He shows that, despite the simple internal workings of these machines, we would be likely to impute feelings and desires to them. As the book goes on, Braitenberg discusses increasingly complicated machines, although remaining firmly in the realm of things that could potentially be built. The later machines appear to be capable of impressive feats of memory, planning and foresight, and yet they are ultimately made up of "simple electro-mechanical relationships". By the close of the book, one realizes belatedly that Braitenberg has sketched out (in fable-like form) a possible history of the evolution of intelligence.
For all those fascinated by the question of how the complexities of human and animal behaviour arise from the relatively simple world of the neuron, this book is a must.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 May 1999
Format: Paperback
This great book is for those not looking for an end but seeking a book that acts as a guide through the world of complexity. It is a starting place for new ideas and has been quoted several times by several people doing important research because it is such a great text.
Once again, no disrespect to the bottom reviewer but they completely missed the point of this fine work. This is not a summation book on the field but a starting point for new and creative ideas.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard Martin on 15 Mar. 2004
Format: Paperback
Braitenberg's small book provides an unique approach to the attempt to understand human cognitive processes. The appraoch is reductionist (in the best sense of the word) whilst at the same time employing his rule of 'downhill analysis and uphill synthesis'. This rule allows Braitenberg to explain features of human cognition by gradual, easily understood, steps from simpler stages.
An excellent read for anyone interested in cognition or evolution.
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By texasflood on 6 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good interesting book
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2 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Dec. 1998
Format: Paperback
Braitenburg's book, Vehicles, is both a success and failure. As a philosophy paper, it is full of ideas for AI systems, simple that they may be, to emulate some interesting "behaviors". Unfortunately, Braitenburg's ideas and style of writing would personify very simple electromechanical relationships such as: Shine a light on a sensor, and the vehicle backs away. This could be called "timid". From any hard science or engineering standpoint, the book is stilted and somewhat incomplete.
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