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The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and…

by Michio Kaku

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8452222,107 (3.93)34
A survey of current research into the human mind reveals how top international laboratories have innovated unique technologies for recording profound mental capabilities and enabling controversial opportunities in the field of cognition enhancement.

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I found it riveting for the first half. The second half went into aliens, space travel theories and string theory/quantum mechanics, which I find hard to believe/far fetched. It was all interesting, though. ( )
  Wren73 | Mar 4, 2022 |
Fascinating read. Much, honestly, was disturbing, and I couldn't help but question the veracity of his claims. I can't tell you how many times he references some sci-fi novel or movie to simply say, "This is going to happen." Basically all of them will happen. Of note, all the examples he gave, however, do have current proto-types.

The future is going to be something way outside my comfort zone right now. This I'm sure. However, as Yuval Harari has said, "If someone describes the future and it sounds like a science fiction novel, they're probably wrong. But if someone describes the future and it does not sound like a science fiction novel, they're definitely wrong." I believe he's right. And I believe some of Michio Kaku's predictions will come to fruition. Nevertheless, it can't all.

All that being said, his description of consciousness (from a theoretical physicist's perspective) was profound. In short, consciousness is feedback loops of varying complexity. A "level zero, one feedback loop" (aka the lowest level) of consciousness would be a thermostat, which responds to temperature alone. A plant would be maybe a level zero, 5 or 10 - responding to sunlight, water, gravity, etc. Reptiles would be level 1. Mammals would be a level two because they respond more to each other and then determine how others would respond to each other. Humans are different from the rest of conscious beings because we can conceptualize time and space. Fascinating. And helpful. Best part of the book for me.

That being said, I didn't finish it. Made it about 2/3rd of the way through it. Too many other great books... ( )
  nrt43 | Dec 29, 2020 |
Loved this book! Best I've read in months! Easily understood by the non-scientist. Opens the imagination to all sorts of ideas while at the same time bringing one up to date with emerging technologies and science research. This book, for me, has all the 5-star components: Entertaining, Informative, and Mind-Changing. ( )
  lasvegasbookie | Aug 20, 2020 |
Part Research, Part Optimistic Speculation, and Part Oversimplification

If you are fascinated by the occasional newspaper report on controlling a computer by thought or the latest robot to demonstrate sensitivity to human emotion…or any of the dozens of recent breakthroughs in understanding, recording, simulating, communicating with, or enhancing the mind, then this book is for you.

The primary strength of the book is its breadth. The author provides a glimpse at wide variety of topics and research that generally fall within the realms of cognitive science, computer science including artificial intelligence, engineering, neuroscience, and genetics. This glimpse generally emphasizes the possible, rather than the probable, and usually with an emphasis on positive outcomes. As such, it is an easy, enjoyable survey of a vast and rapidly expanding field.

If the primary strength of the book is breadth, the primary weakness is depth. The author seems to favor the popular, media-grabbing version of research, rather than the more rigorous, academic interpretation. Just to give one example, the author describes the direct brain stimulation research of Wilder Penfield as a means to retrieve “long-forgotten memories in a crystal-clear fashion.” However, even Penfield in latter writing noted that this phenomena was relatively rare, occurring in only about 3% of his cases, and further research indicates that these recollections are more likely constructions of current thoughts and aspects of memories.

I also found the author’s Space-Time Theory of Consciousness somewhat lacking. It is not clear exactly what set of observations or empirical findings the author is trying to explain with this theory. Additionally, in part, the theory suggests that consciousness is related to the number of feedback loops produced by relationships to others. So, the theory seems to suggest that someone with numerous acquaintances to consider (say, a politician) is more conscious than someone who is more involved with the internal life of his/her thoughts (say, an artist). I am not sure I buy that notion.

So, for a light read over a diverse and thought-provoking body of research, The Future of the Mind is hard to beat. But if you want a more thorough understanding of many of these issues, you will need to dig a little deeper into the literature. ( )
  BMPerrin | Sep 17, 2019 |
Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist with a love of science fiction and of explaining science to non-scientists as well as of physics, once again takes a big, broad subject area that people are fascinated by, and explores what we know and can do now, what we can expect in the near future, and what the next century or two might bring us.

This is a readable, fascinating introduction to what we know about the workings of the human brain, and how the mind emerges from it, as well as the current state and realistic prospects for artificial intelligence.

In recent decades we have learned, with new tools many of which emerge from physics, startling details about the deep structure of the brain, what parts correspond to which abilities and behaviors, and how memory is constructed and stored. As we understand more about how our brains and minds really work, the problems of artificial intelligence become clearer. Past periods of optimism about AI were founded largely in a lack of understanding of the complexities involved. Now we have a much greater understanding of what intelligence and consciousness are, and a more realistic prospect of creating the computing power we need to replicate it--in the future. That capacity doesn't exist yet, and we are in the early stages of creating robots with minimal "intelligence" and learning ability. The breakthroughs we've made are exciting, though, and the prospects even more so.

As our ability to create intelligent machines increases, what will the implications be? Will our machines be our children, or will they be a threat to us? Will we use mechanical surrogates controlled by our own minds to explore distant worlds? Will we achieve immortality through replacement robotic bodies? Will we live our lives wholly inside a computer-generated environment?

Kaku also considers the question of intelligent alien life. Why haven't we heard from them? What will happen when we do find intelligent aliens? Aliens advanced enough to make traveling from their worlds to ours would not be just a few centuries ahead of us, technologically; they would be thousands of years ahead of us. Would they even notice us, or would the biggest danger we face from them be the danger the deer face from the developer--having our environment developed into uninhabitability, not out of malice but because we're not important enough to notice.

This is an entertaining, educational, and stimulating book. Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michio Kakuprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barattieri di San Pietro, ChiaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chin, FeodorReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maugeri, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Niehaus, MonikaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seweryńska, UrszulaTł.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seweryński, MariuszTł.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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A survey of current research into the human mind reveals how top international laboratories have innovated unique technologies for recording profound mental capabilities and enabling controversial opportunities in the field of cognition enhancement.

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