How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

Ray Kurzweil. Viking, $27.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-67-002529-9
Bringing together contemporary theories and research in cognitive neuroscience and artificial intelligence, Kurzweil (The Singularity is Near) provides insight into how the human brain functions, while speculating on the possibilities and philosophical implications of creating a nonbiological mind. Underlying this analysis is the Pattern Recognition Theory of Mind, a process in the neocortex, the seat of higher brain functions such as perception, memory, and language and, by extension, consciousness. Kurzweil underscores that any meaningful progress in artificial intelligence is indebted to an understanding of these processes and re-engineering them in nonbiological artificial forms such as Watson, the computer that defeated two of Jeopardy's best players. Like Watson, he says, our brain contains no hidden secrets–it functions by hierarchical statistical analysis, that is, computing. While his descriptions of the human cognitive apparatus and current frontiers of creating a non-biological brain are illuminating, Kurzweil's speculations that eventually "most of our thinking will be in the cloud" and "we will merge with the intelligent technology we are creating," seem so uncritically optimistic about the possibilities of our technologies, as to become mystifying. Agent: Loretta Barrett, Loretta Barrett Books. (Nov.).
Reviewed on: 10/22/2012
Release date: 11/13/2012
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