- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; 7/28/13 edition (August 27, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143124048
- ISBN-13: 978-0143124047
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 275 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed 7/28/13 Edition
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As inventor, futurist, and noted author of several books on technology, Kurzweil has often pushed the boundaries of convention and stirred controversy with his visionary ideas. Guaranteed to trigger still more debate, his latest work expands on a theme first introduced in his best-seller, The Age of Intelligent Machines (1989); namely, a proposed project to reverse-engineer the human mind and use that information to build superintelligent computers to solve the world’s thorniest problems. Arguing against the prevailing notion that the brain is simply too complex to be replicated in machine form, either in hardware or software, Kurzweil points out how recent, groundbreaking scientific advances, from mapping the human genome to 3D molecular imaging, have resulted in exponential technological growth. On his way to demonstrating the inevitability of computer intelligence that outstrips its human creators, Kurzweil dissects such topics as the nature of consciousness and transcendent abilities like love and creativity, and seeks to rebut his potential critics. While his prose sometimes founders when analyzing abstract data, Kurzweil’s extrapolation of technology’s breathtaking potential remains provocative and inspiring. --Carl Hays --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Kurzweil's vision of our super-enhanced future is completely sane and calmly reasoned, and his book should nicely smooth the path for the earth's robot overlords, who, it turns out, will be us.”
—The New York Times
“Kurzweil writes boldly and with a showman’s flair, expertly guiding the lay reader into deep thickets of neuroscience.”
—Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe
“This book is a breath of fresh air . . . . Kurzweil makes an argument for optimism.”
—Laura Spinney, New Scientist
“A fascinating exercise in futurology.”
“It is rare to find a book that offers unique and inspiring content on every page. How to Create a Mind achieves that and more. Ray has a way of tackling seemingly overwhelming challenges with an army of reason, in the end convincing the reader that it is within our reach to create nonbiological intelligence that will soar past our own. This is a visionary work that is also accessible and entertaining.”
—Rafael Reif, president, MIT
“Kurzweil’s new book on the mind is magnificent, timely, and solidly argued! His best so far!”
—Marvin Minsky, MIT Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences; cofounder of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab; widely regarded as “the father of artificial intelligence”
“If you ever wondered about how your mind works, read this book. Kurzweil’s insights reveal key secrets underlying human thought and our ability to recreate it. This is an eloquent and thought-provoking work.”
—Dean Kamen, physicist; inventor of the first wearable insulin pump, the HomeChoice dialysis machine, and the IBOT mobility system; founder of FIRST; recipient of the National Medal of Technology
“One of the eminent AI pioneers, Ray Kurzweil, has created a new book to explain the true nature of intelligence, both biological and nonbiological. The book describes the human brain as a machine that can understand hierarchical concepts ranging from the form of a chair to the nature of humor. His important insights emphasize the key role of learning both in the brain and in AI. He provides a credible road map for achieving the goal of super-human intelligence, which will be necessary to solve the grand challenges of humanity.”
—Raj Reddy, founding director, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University; recipient of the Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery
“Ray Kurzweil pioneered artificial intelligence systems that could read print in any type style, synthesize speech and music, and understand speech. These were the forerunners of the present revolution in machine learning that is creating intelligent computers that can beat humans in chess, win on Jeopardy!, and drive cars. His new book is a clear and compelling overview of the progress, especially in learning, that is enabling this revolution in the technologies of intelligence. It also offers important insights into a future in which we will begin solving what I believe is the greatest problem in science and technology today: the problem of how the brain works and of how it generates intelligence.”
—Tomaso Poggio, Eugene McDermott Professor, MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences; director, MIT Center for Biological and Computational Learning; former chair, MIT McGovern Institute for Brain Research; one of the most cited neuroscientists in the world
“This book is a Rosetta stone for the mystery of human thought. Even more remarkably, it is a blueprint for creating artificial consciousness that is as persuasive and emotional as our own. Kurzweil deals with the subject of consciousness better than anyone from Blackmore to Dennett. His persuasive thought experiment is of Einstein quality: It forces recognition of the truth.”
—Martine Rothblatt, chairman and CEO, United Therapeutics; creator of Sirius XM Satellite Radio
“Kurzweil’s book is a shining example of his prodigious ability to synthesize ideas from disparate domains and explain them to readers in simple, elegant language. Just as Chanute’s Progress in Flying Machines ushered in the era of aviation over a century ago, this book is the harbinger of the coming revolution in artificial intelligence that will fulfill Kurzweil's own prophecies about it.”
—Dileep George, AI scientist; pioneer of hierarchical models of the neocortex; cofounder of Numenta and Vicarious Systems
“Ray Kurzweil’s understanding of the brain and artificial intelligence will dramatically impact every aspect of our lives, every industry on Earth, and how we think about our future. If you care about any of these, read this book!”
—Peter H. Diamandis, chairman and CEO, X PRIZE; executive chairman, Singularity University; author of the New York Times bestseller Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think
From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
"How to Create a Mind" is a very interesting book that presents the pattern recognition theory of mind (PRTM), which describes the basic algorithm of the neocortex (the region of the brain responsible for perception, memory, and critical thinking). It is the author's contention that the brain can be reverse engineered due to the power of its simplicity and such knowledge would allow us to create true artificial intelligence. The one and only, futurist, prize-winning scientist and author Ray Kurzweil takes the reader on a journey of the brain and the future of artificial intelligence. This enlightening 352-page book is composed of the following eleven chapters: 1. Thought Experiments on the World, 2. Thought Experiments on Thinking, 3. A Model of the Neocortex: The Pattern Recognition Theory of Mind, 4. The Biological Neocortex, 5. The Old Brain, 6. Transcendent Abilities, 7. The Biologically Inspired Digital Neocortex, 8. The Mind as Computer, 9. Thought Experiments on the Mind, 10. The Law of Accelerating Returns Applied to the Brain, and 11. Objections.
1. Well researched and well-written book. The author's uncanny ability to make very difficult subjects accessible to the masses.
2. A great topic in the "mind" of a great thinker.
3. Great use of charts and diagrams.
4. A wonderful job of describing how thinking works.
5. Thought-provoking questions and answers based on a combination of sound science and educated speculation.
6. The art of recreating brain processes in machines. "There is more parallel between brains and computers than may be apparent." Great stuff!
7. Great information on how memories truly work.
8. Hierarchies of units of functionality in natural systems.
9. How the neocortex must work. The Pattern Recognition Theory of Mind (PRTM). The main thesis of this book. The importance of redundancy. Plenty of details.
10. Evolution...it does a brain good. Legos will never be the same for me again.
11. The neocortex as a great metaphor machine. Projects underway to simulate the human brain such as Markram's Blue Brain Project.
12. Speech recognition and Markov models. Author provides a lot of excellent examples.
13. The four key concepts of the universality and feasibility of computation and its applicability to our thinking.
14. A fascinating look at split-brain patients. The "society of mind." The concept of free will, "We are apparently very eager to explain and rationalize our actions, even when we didn't actually make the decisions that led to them." Profound with many implications indeed.
15. The issue of identity.
16. The brain's ability to predict the future. The author's own predictive track record referenced.
17. The laws of accelerating returns (LOAR), where it applies and why we should train ourselves to think exponentially.
18. The author provides and analyzes objections to his thesis. In defense of his ideas. Going after Allen's "scientist's pessimism."
19. The evolution of our knowledge.
20. Great notes and links beautifully.
1. The book is uneven. That is, some chapters cover certain topics with depth while others suffer from lack of depth. Some of it is understandable as it relates to the limitations of what we currently know but I feel that the book could have been reformatted into smaller chapters or subchapters. The book bogs down a little in the middle sections of the book.
2. Technically I disagree with the notion that evolution always leads to more complexity. Yes on survival but not necessarily on complexity.
3. The author has a tendency to cross-market his products a tad much. It may come across as look at me...
4. A bit repetitive.
5. Sometimes leaves you with more questions than answers but that may not be a bad thing...
6. No formal separate bibliography.
In summary, overall I enjoyed this book. Regardless of your overall stance on the feasibility of artificial intelligence no one brings it like Ray Kurzweil. His enthusiasm and dedication is admirable. The author provides his basic thesis of how the brain works and a path to achieve true artificial intelligence and all that it implies. Fascinating in parts, bogs down in other sections but ultimately satisfying. I highly recommend it!
Further suggestions: "Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior" by Leonard Mlodinow, "The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths" by Michael Shermer, "The Scientific American Brave New Brain: How Neuroscience, Brain-Machine Interfaces, Neuroimaging, Psychopharmacology, Epigenetics, the Internet, and ... and Enhancing the Future of Mental Power" by Judith Horstman, "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature" by Steven Pinker, "Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain" and "Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique", by Michael S. Gazzaniga, "Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals about Morality 1st Edition by Tancredi, Laurence published by Cambridge University Press Paperback" by Laurence Tancredi, "Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality" by Patricia S. Churchland, "The Myth of Free Will" by Cris Evatt, "SuperSense" by Bruce M. Hood and "The Brain and the Meaning of Life" by Paul Thagard.
the cortex has an explanation for everything -
it generates our subjective universe. To paraphrase George Box,
all our brain's models of the world are wrong,
but some are useful, generative, and simple (but not too simple).
In How to Create a Mind acclaimed inventor Ray Kurzweil
puts forth a model of how the brain works:
the pattern recognition theory of mind (PRTM).
The brain successively interiorizes the world as a set of patterns.
Kurzweil's framework uses hierarchical hidden Markov models (HHMMs)
as its main stock in trade. HHMMs add to the PRTM model the notion
that those patterns are arranged into a hierarchy of nodes,
where each node is an ordered sequence of probabilistically matched lower nodes.
So, the key question for me is this: are HHMMs
really the key to understanding and building a mind?
Ray has been on this track since the sixties,
when he and I were classmates at MIT. In a spectacular
career spanning decades, Ray invented systems for OmniPage OCR,
text to speech (famously for Stevie Wonder), and
automated speech recognition as in Dragon Naturally Speaking.
Nuance bought Ray's precursor company.
All automatic speech recognition nowadays is done using HHMMs,
and the results are astounding. For example, see Microsoft Research
Chief Rick Rashid's YouTube "Speech Recognition Breakthrough."
A computer transcription of Rick's talk appears in
real time and is quite accurate.
The amazing success of HHMMs in handling speech and language is
a story that needs to be understood by AI aficionados, and
Kurzweil presents this topic in a beautifully comprehensible exposition.
Kurzweil elaborates a story here that 1) the cortex is
the key to thought; 2) it is hierarchically organized into
300 million pattern recognizers; 3) each pattern recognizer
consists of a 100 neurons in a vertical minicolumn, and
4) those pattern recognizers communicate with one another
via a Manhattan-like grid (similar to an FPGA) -
end of story for the neocortex.
This is a story similar to the one told by entrepreneur Jeff Hawkins in
On Intelligence, and one that Hawkins, his former associate Dileep George
(now at Vicarious), and Kurzweil himself are trying to capitalize on
in cortex-engineering startups. I eagerly follow their results.
So, HHMMs work well and are a required part of a computational
neuroscience curriculum, but ARE THEY THE MASTER KEY that will unlock
the doors not only to a full understanding of the mind
but also to a future of superintelligent AIs? How to Create a Mind
is a good story but IS IT FICTION or nonfiction?
While HHMMs are required reading for automatic speech recognition,
they DO NOT DO all the brain's heavy-lifting. Rather, the brain employs
MANY mechanisms (which robots that aspire to humanity
may need to incorporate or emulate.)
Five stars for HHMM exposition. Subtract one star for giving short shrift
to the following pivotal neuroscience principles: 1) attentional mechanisms,
2) brain-wide dynamical networks, 3) gamma oscillations and inhibitory networks
and also 5) the role of insula and brain stem in emotion, 6) reward based learning
including the essential role of basal ganglia and midbrain,
and 7) hippocampus and memory.
Despite its corticocentric focus, Kurzweil's impressive engineering
successes make this an important story; furthermore, it is engagingly told.
I cover neuroscience and AI at bobblum.com . Below are two recent 'DO NOT MISS'
FIVE STAR stories.)
Addendum: 30 Nov 2012 - Today's issue of SCIENCE (and Ray K's newsletter)
features a story about a new 2.5M spiking neuron model (SPAUN) that
performs 8 tasks and outputs to a physically modeled arm.
See the videos at NENGO > Videos > Collection of Spaun.
That is the state of the art!
Addendum: Jan 2013: Want to know where the brain stores meaning? (YOU DO!)
See Alex Huth's 5 min YouTube from Jack Gallant's lab. Search:
Alex Huth, gallantlabucb "Perceptual Object and Action Maps in the Human Brain."