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How to Build a Mind: Toward Machines with Imagination (Maps of the Mind)by Igor Aleksander
Synopses & Reviews
Igor Aleksander heads a major British team that has applied engineering principles to the understanding of the human brain and has built several pioneering machines, culminating in MAGNUS, which he calls a machine with imagination. When he asks it (in words) to produce an image of a banana that is blue with red spots, the image appears on the screen in seconds.
The idea of such an apparently imaginative, even conscious machine seems heretical and its advocates are often accused of sensationalism, arrogance, or philosophical ignorance. Part of the problem, according to Aleksander, is that consciousness remains ill-defined.
Interweaving anecdotes from his own life and research with imagined dialogues between historical figures — including Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, Wittgenstein, Francis Crick, and Steven Pinker — Aleksander leads readers toward an understanding of consciousness. He shows not only how the latest work with artificial neural systems suggests that an artificial form of consciousness is possible but also that its design would clarify many of the puzzles surrounding the murky concept of consciousness itself. The book also looks at the presentation of self in robots, the learning of language, and the nature of emotion, will, instinct, and feelings.
Book News Annotation:
Clarifying the notion of consciousness, Aleksander (neural systems engineering, Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, London) argues not only that it is possible to build a machine that has it, but that doing so would reveal much more about the workings of the human mind. His account is more philosophy and personal anecdote than hard science, and so accessible to general readers.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
"One of the pioneers of neural computers that borrow heavily on the brain's design" (NEW SCIENTIST) unravels the debate on replicating human consciousness
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