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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.
Bringing together contemporary theories and research in cognitive neuroscience and artificial intelligence, Kurzweil (The Singularity is Near) provides insight into how the human brain functions, while speculating on the possibilities and philosophical implications of creating a nonbiological mind. Underlying this analysis is the Pattern Recognition Theory of Mind, a process in the neocortex, the seat of higher brain functions such as perception, memory, and language and, by extension, consciousness. Kurzweil underscores that any meaningful progress in artificial intelligence is indebted to an understanding of these processes and re-engineering them in nonbiological artificial forms such as Watson, the computer that defeated two of Jeopardy's best players. Like Watson, he says, our brain contains no hidden secrets it functions by hierarchical statistical analysis, that is, computing. While his descriptions of the human cognitive apparatus and current frontiers of creating a non-biological brain are illuminating, Kurzweil's speculations that eventually "most of our thinking will be in the cloud" and "we will merge with the intelligent technology we are creating," seem so uncritically optimistic about the possibilities of our technologies, as to become mystifying. .