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Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence Paperback – February 1, 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0674576186 ISBN-10: 0674576187 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (February 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674576187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674576186
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

One would be making a mistake to let Mind Children recede unopened into a guiltless oblivion. It's a tonic book, thought-provoking on every page. And it reminds us that, in our accelerating, headlong era, the future presses so close upon us that those who ignore it inhabit not the present but the past. (Brad Leithauser New Yorker)

A comprehensive and highly readable survey of the state of the art in robotics. (M. Mitchell Waldrop New York Times Book Review)

Moravec, by his own admission, is an intellectual joyrider, and riding his runaway trains of thought is an exhilarating experience...This is an intellectual party that shouldn't be pooped, no matter how much it may disturb the neighbours and encourage over-indulgence. (Brian Woolley Guardian)

[Mind Children] has the accuracy of a college text and the can't-put-it-down appeal of a good novel. Moravec has turned the flights of mind of one of the world's foremost roboticists into hard copy. And he has written a tremendously good book in the process. (Eric Bobinsky Byte)

A dizzying display of intellect and wild imaginings by Moravec, a world-class roboticist who has himself developed clever beasts...Undeniably, Moravec comes across as a highly knowledgeable and creative talent--which is just what the field needs. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Bobb Collins on November 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book, expecting to learn a little bit about where we're headed with our computers, and the consequences therein. I learned all that--but I got even more than I bargained for. I have to say, the prologue in and of itself blew me away. I had never quite thought of humans as the first step in a bigger evolution. I read this book six months ago, and I haven't been able to get the implications of it out of my head since. If you're looking for the big answers--like "Why are we here?" and "What's the point?"--you may be like me and find more in here than in more traditional spiritual texts.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Griffin on December 22, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this nearly twenty year old book, the author contends that advancing technology and the force of economic competition will lead inevitably (and in a span of mere decades) to a world in which machine intelligence vastly exceeds human intelligence. In chapters 3 through 6 the author gives a fascinating look at some of the possible features of that transhuman, post-biological world. Those chapters are as interesting and thought-provoking as any that have appeared in more contemporary treatments. Where the book does show it age, however, is in the first three chapters. There the author reviews the history of computer technology, and then succumbs to the shop-worn refrain of many classical AI researchers - "If only we had a computer that is 100 (or 1000 or 10000) times as powerful as today's machine, then we could program a human-equivalent intelligence". He even predicts on page 23 that "a general-purpose robot usable in the home" will be available within ten years. Well, today we have the computer power he was hoping for and still no general-purpose robot. Bottom line: if you want a fascinating look at what a world with superintelligent machines might be like, then buy this book and start reading at chapter 4. If you are interested in how we might actually achieve such a world then consider buying a copy of "On Intelligence" by Jeff Hawkins.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 1997
Format: Paperback
This book is very pleasant and easy to read. Yes, the subject is in itself fascinating, but Moravec does manage to make that clear. Whether one is interested in artificial intelligence, bioengineering, or just looking for some thoughts on fun-filled research, this book is a sound place to start. In fact, this book is a great bait for caching curious high school and undergraduate students! I know. I've attracted at least a couple to my research just by letting them borrow my own copy!

(Francisco Sepulveda, Ph.D.
Biomedical Engineering Dept.
FEEC-UNICAMP, Brazil)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Baraniecki Mark Stuart on January 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
Hans Moravec is director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory of Carnegie Mellon University and has spent his time from his days as a graduate student investigating artificial intelligence. Specifically he was attracted by the debate about the possibility of replacing the human nervous system with a more durable artificial equivalent. His essays turned into articles and his articles eventually turned into this book.

Of course the idea is not accepted by many people but Moravec doesn't go into the moral question. In his view the new world will be one in which "the human race has been swept away by the tide of cultural change, usurped by its own artificial progeny". In other words given the rate of improvement in artificial intelligence, robots in the not too distant future will be able outperform human beings and so they won't need them anymore.

At first the idea seems bizarre but so would the technology of the late 20th century looking from the vantage point of the 19th. Moravec collects all the evidence throughout the book. He presents very clearly data on the increases in computing power running from electro-mechanical machines, vacuum tubes, transistors to integrated circuits and shows how a top down approach (system design) and bottom up approach (learning evolving systems) are gradually chipping away at "humans only" areas.

Interestingly computers in medicine can already offer reliable diagnosis and they can play chess at grand-master level. They are everywhere in process control and are taking the first steps in learning by being given likes and dislikes and the capacity for boredom (the gradual fade of learnt and recorded tasks in favour of new ones).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Peter McCluskey on March 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book does a great job of exploring the future of robots, artificial intelligence, the human mind, and human identity. A few parts of it seem dated, but most of what the book describes seems likely to happen this century and to surprise the large fraction of the population which still hasn't given any thought to the possibilities this book describes.
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