Synopses & Reviews
For decades, proponents of artificial intelligence have argued that computers will soon be doing everything that a human mind can do. Admittedly, computers now play chess at the grandmaster level, but do they understand the game as we do? Can a computer eventually do everything a human mind can do?
In this absorbing and frequently contentious book, Roger Penrose--eminent physicist and winner, with Stephen Hawking, of the prestigious Wolf prize--puts forward his view that there are some facets of human thinking that can never be emulated by a machine. Although the book ranges widely over relativity theory, quantum mechanics and cosmology, its central concern is what philosophers call the "mind-body problem." Penrose examines what physics and mathematics can tell us about how the mind works, what they can't, and what we need to know to understand the physical processes of consciousness. In particular, he argues that there is an important gap in our knowledge at the place where classical and quantum physics meet. He is among a growing number of physicists who think Einstein wasn't being stubborn when he said his "little finger" told him that quantum mechanics is incomplete, and he concludes that laws even deeper than quantum mechanics are essential for the operation of a mind. To support this contention, Penrose takes the reader on a dazzling tour that covers such topics as complex numbers, Turing machines, complexity theory, quantum mechanics, formal systems, Godel undecidability, phase spaces, Hilbert spaces, black holes, white holes, Hawking radiation, entropy, quasicrystals, the structure of the brain, and scores of other subjects. Penrose's illuminating (and sometimes amusing) drawings highlight his discussions throughout.
As Martin Gardner states in his foreword to the book, "Penrose's achievement in mathematics and physics spring from a lifelong sense of wonder toward the mystery and beauty of being. His little finger tells him that the human mind is more than just a collection of tiny wires and switches." The Emperor's New Mind will appeal to anyone with a serious interest in modern physics and its relation to philosophical issues, as well as to physicists, mathematicians, philosophers and those on either side of the AI debate.
About the Author
About the Author Roger Penrose is the Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. He has received a number of prizes and awards, including the 1988 Wolf Prize which he shared with with Stephen Hawking for their joint contribution to our understanding of the universe.
Table of Contents
Prologue; 1. Can a computer have a mind?; 2. Algorithms and Turing Machines; 3. Mathematics and Reality; 4. Truth, Proof, and Insight; 5. The Classical World; 6. Quantum Magic and Quantum Mystery; 7. Cosmology and the Arrow of Time; 8. In Search of Quantum Gravity; 9. Real brains and Model Brains; 10. Where Lies the Physics of the Mind?; Epilogue; References; Index.