How To Create A Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed by Ray KurzweilHow To Create A Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed by Ray Kurzweil

How To Create A Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

byRay Kurzweil

Hardcover | November 13, 2012

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The bold futurist and bestselling author explores the limitless potential of reverse-engineering the human brain

Ray Kurzweil is arguably today’s most influential—and often controversial—futurist. In How to Create a Mind, Kurzweil presents a provocative exploration of the most important project in human-machine civilization—reverse engineering the brain to understand precisely how it works and using that knowledge to create even more intelligent machines.

Kurzweil discusses how the brain functions, how the mind emerges from the brain, and the implications of vastly increasing the powers of our intelligence in addressing the world’s problems. He thoughtfully examines emotional and moral intelligence and the origins of consciousness and envisions the radical possibilities of our merging with the intelligent technology we are creating.

Certain to be one of the most widely discussed and debated science books of the year, How to Create a Mind is sure to take its place alongside Kurzweil’s previous classics which include Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever and The Age of Spiritual Machines.
Ray Kurzweil is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Singularity Is Near and the national bestseller The Age of Spiritual Machines, among others. One of the leading inventors of our time, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2002. He is the recipient of many honors, including the National Medal of Tech...
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Title:How To Create A Mind: The Secret of Human Thought RevealedFormat:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 9.55 × 6.38 × 1.14 inPublished:November 13, 2012Publisher:Viking AdultLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0670025291

ISBN - 13:9780670025299

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Brief Summary and Review *A full executive summary of this book will be available at newbooksinbrief dot com on or before Monday, November 26. When IBM's Deep Blue defeated humanity's greatest chess player Garry Kasparov in 1997 it marked a major turning point in the progress of artificial intelligence (AI). A still more impressive turning point in AI was achieved in 2011 when another creation of IBM named Watson defeated Jeopardy! phenoms Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter at their own game. As time marches on and technology advances we can easily envision still more impressive feats coming out of AI. And yet when it comes to the prospect of a computer ever actually matching human intelligence in all of its complexity and intricacy, we may find ourselves skeptical that this could ever be fully achieved. There seems to be a fundamental difference between the way a human mind works and the way even the most sophisticated machine works--a qualitative difference that could never be breached. Famous inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil begs to differ. To begin with--despite the richness and complexity of human thought--Kurzweil argues that the underlying principles and neuro-networks that are responsible for higher-order thinking are actually relatively simple, and in fact fully replicable. Indeed, for Kurzweil, our most sophisticated AI machines are already beginning to employ the same principles and are mimicking the same neuro-structures that are present in the human brain. Beginning with the brain, Kurzweil argues that recent advances in neuroscience indicate that the neocortex (whence our higher-level thinking comes) operates according to a sophisticated (though relatively straightforward) pattern recognition scheme. This pattern recognition scheme is hierarchical in nature, such that lower-level patterns representing discrete bits of input (coming in from the surrounding environment) combine to trigger higher-level patterns that represent more general categories that are more abstract in nature. The hierarchical structure is innate, but the specific categories and meta-categories are filled in by way of learning. Also, the direction of information travel is not only from the bottom up, but also from the top down, such that the activation of higher-order patterns can trigger lower-order ones, and there is feedback between the varying levels. As Kurzweil points out, this pattern recognition scheme is actually remarkably similar to the technology that our most sophisticated AI machines are already using. Indeed, not only are these machines designed to process information in a hierarchical way (just as our brain is), but machines such as Watson (and even Siri, the voice recognition software available on the iPhone), are structured in such a way that they are capable of learning from the environment. For example, Watson was able to modify its software based on the information it gathered from reading the entire Wikipedia file. (The technology that these machines are using is known as the hierarchical hidden Markov model or HHMM, and Kurzweil was himself a part of developing this technology in the 1980's and 1990's.) Given that our AI machines are now running according to the same principles as our brains, and given the exponential rate at which all information-based technologies advance, Kurzweil predicts a time when computers will in fact be capable of matching human thought--right down to having such features as consciousness, identity and free will (Kurzweil's specific prediction here is that this will occur by the year 2029). What's more, because computer technology does not have some of the limitations inherent in biological systems, Kurzweil predicts a time when computers will even vastly outstrip human capabilities. Of course, since we use our tools as a natural extension of ourselves (figuratively, but sometimes also literally), this will also be a time when our own capabilities will vastly outstrip our capabilities of today. Ultimately, Kurzweil thinks, we will simply use the markedly superior computer technology to replace our outdated neurochemistry (as we now replace a limb with a prosthetic), and thus fully merge with our machines (a state that Kurzweil refers to as the singularity). This is the argument that Kurzweil makes in his new book 'How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed'. Kurzweil lays out his arguments very clearly, and he does have a knack for explaining some very difficult concepts in a very simple way. My only objection to the book is that there is a fair bit of repetition, and some of the philosophical arguments (on such things as consciousness, identity and free will) drag on longer than need be. All in all there is much of interest to be learned both about artificial intelligence and neuroscience. A full executive summary of this book will be available at newbooksinbrief dot com, on or before Monday, November 26; a podcast discussion of the book will be available shortly
Date published: 2012-11-16

Editorial Reviews

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."~Kirkus Reviews "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