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Are You a Machine?: The Brain, the Mind, And What It Means to Be Human Paperback – January 2, 2007


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Are You a Machine?: The Brain, the Mind, And What It Means to Be Human + Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies? (Current Issues in Theology) + Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, 4th Ed.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Humanity Books (January 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591024838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591024835
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.4 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,387,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Consciousness is a major neuroscience mystery. Since bright, ambitious young people have solved many of our scientific mysteries, this young man's remarkable synthesis of current consciousness theory and research shouldn't surprise us. I expect that this book is simply the first of many contributions Elie Sternberg will make during his career."

Robert Sylwester, Emeritus Professor of Education
University of Oregon, author of How To Explain a Brain
Columnist for the online journal "Brain Connection"

"Elie Sternberg gives a fascinating and accurate account of the issues and arguments for and concerning the possibility of intelligent computers. His book is not only exciting reading, it also shows good judgment in helping the reader decide which arguments to accept."

Hubert Dreyfus, University of California, Berkeley
Philosopher and author of What Computers Still Can't Do

About the Author

Eliezer J. Sternberg (Williamsville, NY) is a student at Brandeis University majoring in neuroscience and philosophy.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Srinija Konduru on September 26, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In "Are You a Machine? The Brain, the Mind, and What It Means to Be Human," Eliezer Sternberg explores what it means to be a human versus what it means to be a machine. He introduces views of various philosophers on the concept of consciousness, the distinguishing factor between humans and machines. Although I found the book to be an extremely interesting read about the philosophy of consciousness, I was disappointed in how little the author actually discussed science of the brain. As state in the title, I expected the book to focus equally on the three topics: (1) the brain, (2) the mind, and (3) what it means to be human. As I progressed through the book however, I found that the several theories that the author discussed lacked any consideration for scientific data because they were mainly philosophical theories. As a student of both Science and Engineering, I found it extremely hard to take some of these theories seriously because they were based on the assumptions that seemed impractical, and at times silly.

The book is composed of fifteen short chapters, each that starts with a scene from the author's life or a hypothetical situation. He uses the events or actions in this scene in the rest of the chapter to discuss, prove or disprove a theory of interest. Each individual chapter is well structured and cohesive, and it is easy to comprehend because the writing is in layman's terms. Although initially the book seems haphazardly organized, a closer look at the structure of the book shows that the author's organization is justified and comprehensible. While reading the book, it seemed to me that one chapter did not smoothly transition to the next.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David Forester on April 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
Could we ever construct a robot with consciousness? If so, does that mean that we--all human beings--are machines? If not, what is it about a human being that could not be replicated by a machine?

These are the questions that are addressed in this book, and in a really gripping way. The book is structured so that it feels like one long, interesting discussion between experts in the fields of neuroscience, philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence and others.

Filled with illustrative examples, the book draws you into every concept immediately and doesn't let go. At points, I felt that it read like a novel that I couldn't put down. I haven't read many books on this topic, so the questions raised in the book really took me by storm and got me thinking about things like consciousness and free will in radically new ways. It's a really cool book. I definitely recommend it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Katie R. Schlussel on March 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is certainly one of my favorite books. It is clear and easy to read, and the topic is extemely clever. I would recommend this book to anyone! I never found science particularly interesting before, but this book gave me an entirely new perspective on the brain and intellect. I anxiously await the author's next book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on August 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
Sternberg's book examines the question of what makes us human, and more specifically what makes us different from machines, computers, and artificial intelligence. At a time when people talk about carbon-based intelligence versus silicon-based intelligence at dinner parties in the suburbs, posing this question in a scientific manner is both relevant to our times and much needed.

In particular, Sternberg examines what it means to be conscious-not just awake, but aware and processing our surroundings in a uniquely human way. And, what makes us different from machines. Is it possible that some day scientists could understand enough about the way our brains work to understand how we love, how the creative process begins, and what constitutes joy and despair?

Sternberg poses the fundamental questions: What is the difference between our brain, our mind, and our consciousness? What separates us from robots? He brings together science and philosophy and weaves them together in an easily accessible way that draws on biology, neuroscience, and common sense examples to illustrate his points.

Sternberg asks us to consider our consciousness-how much we know about it and how ultimately private and unknowable it is. First, no one can know what we are thinking or imagining until we tell another person. Even then, we can filter out what we want to share from what we want to remain private. We can imagine things that are not tied to the physical world. In our minds we can be greater than Michael Jordan on the basketball court, receive the Nobel Prize or and Academy Award, walk on Mars, or reverse the course of previous actions.

This short book is a fascinating examination of the mind and the brain.
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