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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another perspective.
Having heard a review/discussion on Radio 4 recently, I was intrigued enough to buy this book; I'm very glad I did! Although at times it is not easy to follow the thread, or see the links between one strand and the next, the ideas are very interesting, challenging and thought-provoking. The nature of the relationship between human (brain) and machine (computer) is one...
Published on 12 Feb 2012 by David Smith

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but not exceptional
In lots of ways this is an interesting book, as it looks at the links between art, culture, artificial intelligence, humanity and the power of the mind.

In a series of chapters Appleyard looks at the promises of advertising that offer a solution to your complicated life. To see how his brain works he undergoes a fMRI scan and analysis by the doctors,, he speaks...
Published 12 months ago by Half Man, Half Book


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another perspective., 12 Feb 2012
Having heard a review/discussion on Radio 4 recently, I was intrigued enough to buy this book; I'm very glad I did! Although at times it is not easy to follow the thread, or see the links between one strand and the next, the ideas are very interesting, challenging and thought-provoking. The nature of the relationship between human (brain) and machine (computer) is one central theme; and how this plays out in the realms of music, industry, science and art makes for an entertaining, informative and, at times, chilling read. If you have noticed that laptops, notebooks and mobile phones are proliferating, you will love this insightful glimpse of the possible road ahead.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal and considered, 25 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Brain is Wider Than the Sky (Kindle Edition)
Great to read someone engaged by the developing personal technologies who is aware of their abhorrent potential. The upside and the downside and a route map for what may be inevitable which happy concludes that humanity and humanism has a future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why we need to do a whole lot MORE than Keep It Simple, Stupid, 18 Oct 2012
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(review by David's wife, we both use this account)
I bought this book after becoming acquainted with the author's writing via Twitter. His early morning tweets of news articles make terrific reading, cutting across areas of education, philosophy, science, religion, technology and humour. You get a sense of a genuine 'renaissance man', and that's very much the delivery of 'The Brain Is Wider Than The Sky'.

"The Brain Is Wider Than The Sky" has a simple concept at its heart too; that simple solutions don't work for a complex world. Anyone who's spent time trying to prise nature's secrets from inside the cell knows from experience that this is true. Or any computer technician. Why do these systems behave in sometimes unpredictable ways? Because they are complex.

But this 'simple concept' is countercultural within the mainstream. Mainstream culture encourages us to believe that character is a matter of 'simple' genetics, one gene equals one phenotype, to Keep It Simple Stupid and a whole lot more.

When the mainstream has embraced something so fundamentally wrong, terrible consequences will follow. Banks will fail. The environment will falter. "The Brain Is Wider Than The Sky" seeks to explain why the mainstream drive for 'simplicity' is wrong and to show how it's leading us to hell in a hand-basket.

Many popular science/technology/economics books take a simple concept that is usually contentious and expound on it with example after example, giving very little in the way of new ideas beyond chapter four. This book, however, has chewy food for thought all the way to the end.

The author achieves this through his cross-disciplinary erudition and via the input of a wide network of renown specialists from the fields of art, economics, medicine and science. He even subjects himself to a two-hour long MRI scan to study the brain, which is what I'd call Commitment.

A truly insightful, fascinating read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an appeal for integrated thinking, 18 April 2012
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A reader (Maidstone, UK) - See all my reviews
The human brain is the most complex entity that we know of and it remains far beyond our ability to comprehend. Appleyard opens his book by describing the recent developments in fMRI scanning technology to demonstrate just how little we know about how our minds emerge from our brains. Brain activity cannot be translated into thoughts, images, ideas or language -- and we still have no idea how this happens.
He then looks at our current obsession in the West with electronic gadgetry, and the false philosophy which underpins much of modern artificial intelligence. People are increasingly addicted to the short term stimulation of using this gadgetry especially the false notion that we are communicating meaningfully with large numbers of (often) anonymous people via social network sites. Yet all of this electronic wizardry and artificial intelligence misses a key point: that as sentient beings we are creative, feeling, thinking, living animals. No computer has ever been able to demonstrate properties of creative thought, and there is absolutely no sign of one appearing because we do not know how this ability is generated in our brains. In short, our brains are not highly sophisticated versions of modern computers: the fallacy of artificial intelligence is to assume that they are.
He also makes important critical comments about the mathematisation of important parts of our lives, especially finance and banking, were highly intelligent mathematicians have deceived themselves and deluded many others into thinking that their models can predict the future behaviour of complex systems. They cannot and Appleyard explains why. We are complex beings who live in a complex world -- a problem that too many influential people think can be resolved by building solutions from simple components when they cannot. Societies have always had to face multifaceted, difficult issues and we still do, but we still have to learn that to solve them we need complex, multifaceted answers using creative ideas. Computers can help us in this process but we must never forget that they are only machines and will only ever do what we programme them to do. Mistakes in the assumptions that we feed into computers will invariably lead to incorrect answers: computers are no more infallible than we are.
This is an important message which needs to be got through to many more people, especially those who have access to the levers of change. This is a well-written, clear text which makes complex ideas and their implications much easier to understand.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing read, 23 April 2013
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No tub-thumping here. Simply a stimulating ramble through a good deal of common sense. Broadens the perspective on more focused discussions.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 20 Jan 2013
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This is a book for anyone who seeks to understand the enormity of the changes that confront societies. The digital age is now a challenge to many of the traditional values and experiences that have given meaning to everyday life. The book also reassures as it shows that the fears of domination by the tecnmology just will not happen as human ingenuity will adapt and innovate. The questions that are raised over the artistic expression show the potential and possibility that is possible. This is a book to be read and kept close as each reading seems to reveal more insights. The Paris Hilton chapter is a wonderful example.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking comments on new tech and human condition, 10 Nov 2012
By 
JH Fox "Twixon" (Sheffield UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
A very thought provoking book about the rise of the second machine age and how advances in technology threaten to reduce human creativity and change us as a race forever. Ironically I bought the book in a half-price closing down sale at a local bookshop which was put out of business partly by Amazon and I've plugged the book on Facebook (about which the author has some very interesting insights). Also liked it as he gets a brain scan in the same MRI machine I've been in and discusses the results at the Starbucks by the Hallamshire hospital...
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but not exceptional, 5 July 2013
In lots of ways this is an interesting book, as it looks at the links between art, culture, artificial intelligence, humanity and the power of the mind.

In a series of chapters Appleyard looks at the promises of advertising that offer a solution to your complicated life. To see how his brain works he undergoes a fMRI scan and analysis by the doctors,, he speaks to doctors who look at people with brain damage to see how they relate to normal people. He meets with a series of influential people; Bill Gates, James Lovelock and Eric Schmidt all with the aim of finding out their view on where humanity is heading and how we interact in the modern world.

All interesting stuff; but my main feeling was that the book didn't hang together as a complete work. Maybe it would have worked better to have it split into sections and into separate essays.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fluid conciousness, 25 Feb 2012
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J. mason "jAR" (satellite) - See all my reviews
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Hi,I am just over half way through reading this, and am aware of the lack of constructive usefull infomation on Amazon(here), to me there are is a great deal of cross over with the themes and ideas in a lot of Adam Curtis' films for the bbc. And it says a lot about how our enamourment with technological progress of the last 50 years has made us forget the lessons of the previous 200 000 years or so.
There are lots of juicily quotable bits/ bites of info in the book, but I just thought I would quote this paragraph and a bit, if I may. (I'm sure one of those website administrator poeple will delete it due to copy right or some such)
"...This was the assumption that lay behind the line 'Greed is good' uttered by Gorden Gekko (micheal Douglas) in the movie Wall Street(1987). The implication was that the moral injunction followed in a law- like manor from the underlying truth of the market. The induvidual's pursuit of wealth would inevetably enrich us all, therefore greed was not an excess, it was an obligation. The bottom line of profit and loss account for the top line of Moral behavour.
But some things- most things- humans do are nothing are nothing to do with the bottom line. Cheese, for example. Cheese has probably been produced since humans first became settled farmers 10 000 years ago. It can be seen as both a natural and a highly artificial food- natural because it simply happens when protien in milk coagulates, artificial in that it requires tame, milk-delivering animals and a reasonably stable community to allow time for cheese to develop. the passing of time- aging- is important in most cheese production. Cheese is a complex product of the interaction of man and nature."
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking, 8 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Brain is Wider Than the Sky (Kindle Edition)
A thought provoking book with many fascinating insights. But, to my mind, it was rather lacking in focus and did not convey any clear conclusions.
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