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Emperors New Mind by Roger Penrose

Emperors New Mind (original 1989; edition 1992)

by Roger Penrose

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Title:Emperors New Mind
Authors:Roger Penrose
Info:Audio Literature (1992), Audio Cassette
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The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics by Roger Penrose (1989)

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  1. 20
    Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness by Roger Penrose (P_S_Patrick)
    P_S_Patrick: These two books being from the same author, and on the same subject, consciousness, it is hard not to recommend one one if you have enjoyed the other. While Shadows is the more satisfying book in the end, ENM is the more entertaining, (if maths, physics, logic, and philosophical enquiry can be entertaining). Shadows is a bit harded to get through, and not for the most part as interesting, while ENM has more interesting content, it never really gives any proper answers to the questions discussed, while Shadows does. Shadows is an essential read if you were intrigued with what was laid out in ENM.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
The weak AI's answer to Douglas Hofstadter: computers will never become self aware. ( )
  KirkLowery | Mar 4, 2014 |
My reactions upon reading this book in 1991.

This was a long, grueling read. I won't say I clearly understood (or even dimly understood) all this book. At times my eyes glazed over, and my comprehension phased out only to resume later -- usually after long passages of mathematical symbols though the math in this book was relatively simple.

It helpd that I'd read other things about artificial intelligence, computers, relativity, cosmology, and quantam physics. By his own admission, Penrose finds it difficult to explain mathematical things verbally and his arguments often go on and on without tying them into the central question of the book -- is algorithmically based AI possible? -- but in the end I think they all show to be relevant.

I think Penrose does a convincing job of attacking AI on a little used (most object to modeling the brain as a digital computer or emphasize the difficulties of language comprehension or pattern recognitiont) front -- the very idea thought is algorithmically based. Penrose shows that some activities of conscious intelligence can not be done algorithmically though he concedes some unconscious learned activities in the cerebellum may be algorithmic. However, I suspect, he thinks intelligence could be artificially created but not using current AI principles.

Penrose ventures into widely speculative ground by saying he believes concsciousness will be better understood when quantam mechanics and relativity are joined, probably, he believes, by quantam gravity. He makes the startling the proposal that the brain is a quantam computer computing numerous quantam possibilities until gravitionally collaping the quantam wavefunction and realizing one quantam reality (or, at least, that's how I understood it).

Penrose concludes with some intriguing paradoxes in time perception. Do we really, as certain experiments suggest, experience everything two seconds behind and are limited by a half-second delay before conscious action is realized? Penrose doubts it, but it's intriguing. Penrose isn't afraid to consider philosophical questions which most scientists shy away from and firmly grounds, unlike most philosophers, human behavior and consciousness in the physical world and its laws. Some of Penrose's approaches were different than the usual treatment his topics get, particularly deemphasizing quantam mechanics' indeterminism and inprecision as others do, but, rather, the precision and predictions the theory does allow.

I didn't always glean everything that was there, but I'm glad I read the book. ( )
  RandyStafford | Nov 4, 2012 |
I have decided to put this book down as Failed though I do intend to finish it one day. It's good, but I think some of the things he talks about are actually a bit more interesting than he makes them sound. But I suppose a lot of what he covers he does so at a gallop in order to get to a more interesting (to him) place.
  annesadleir | Aug 30, 2011 |
Some good stuff about machine thinking, calculabillity etc. Never mind the bollocks! ( )
  orderflow | Jun 13, 2011 |
This is actually a hard book to review. If, like me, you came to this via Anathem and wanted to know where the ideas come from you will probably be very disappointed.

If, on the other hand, you want a good primer on AI, Godel, Turing, classical, relativistic and quantum physics with some interesting ideas about quantum gravity then you will probably love it.

The book starts with a good section on AI, Godel and Turing. It follows up with a skip through mathematical physics from Greeks to Black Holes and beyond.

Then it adds some speculation about quantum gravity which is... ok I think. Interesting if not exactly widely agreed upon.

Then it tacks on the end some neuroanatomy and some ideas about consciousness. And this is why it ended up with only 1 star for me. This should have been fairly central to the book, but it's the last 60 pages or so. It should have been well researched but it's bits of good science mixed with teleology and something that reads remarkably like Intelligent Design masquerading as debunking evolutionary theory whilst claiming to be a support of it.

It ties together a few tricky things (how quantum events become "classical", is the brain restricted to algorithmic problem solving and why it probably isn't) and one pretty obvious one (the nervous system can react to quantum scale events - it reacts to photons) and claims there's something special and linking these. And here it's about as convincing as someone trying to tell you that creation is the literal truth.

Which is a shame because if I'd bought it as a popularisation of science book, I'd probably have liked it quite a lot more. ( )
  lewispike | Jan 18, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roger Penroseprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amsterdamski, PiotrTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balibar, FrançoiseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bekker, Jos denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
García Sanz, JavierTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gardner, MartinForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leigh, DennisCover illustrationsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sosio, LiberoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tiercelin, ClaudineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0192861980, Paperback)

Some love it, some hate it, but The Emperor's New Mind, physicist Roger Penrose's 1989 treatise attacking the foundations of strong artificial intelligence, is crucial for anyone interested in the history of thinking about AI and consciousness. Part survey of modern physics, part exploration of the philosophy of mind, the book is not for casual readers--though it's not overly technical, it rarely pauses to let the reader catch a breath. The overview of relativity and quantum theory, written by a master, is priceless and uncontroversial. The exploration of consciousness and AI, though, is generally considered as resting on shakier ground.

Penrose claims that there is an intimate, perhaps unknowable relation between quantum effects and our thinking, and ultimately derives his anti-AI stance from his proposition that some, if not all, of our thinking is non-algorithmic. Of course, these days we believe that there are other avenues to AI than traditional algorithmic programming; while he has been accused of setting up straw robots to knock down, this accusation is unfair. Little was then known about the power of neural networks and behavior-based robotics to simulate (and, some would say, produce) intelligent problem-solving behavior. Whether these tools will lead to strong AI is ultimately a question of belief, not proof, and The Emperor's New Mind offers powerful arguments useful to believer and nonbeliever alike. --Rob Lightner

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:03 -0400)

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