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Titel: How to Build a Mind.
Verlag: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London
Zustand: Very Good
Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included
181p orange hardback with gilt lettering to spine, illustrated jacket well preserved, pages clean and unmarked. Buchnummer des Verkäufers PAB 67847
Inhaltsangabe: Imagine a banana. What colour is it? Yellow, of course. Now try to form a picture of one that doesn't exist, that can't exist: a blue banana with red spots. Imagine that. How did you do? If you found it hard, perhaps you ought to know that Igor Aleksander has a machine which can do that easily. When he asks it (in words) to produce an image of 'banana' that is 'blue with red spots', the image swims on to the screen in seconds. The idea of such a conscious machine seems absurd and almost heretical, and its advocates are often accused of sensationalism, arrogance or philosophical ignorance. Part of the problem is that consciousness remains ill-defined: many people argue that it will always lie beyond the remit of science, in the realm of philosophical speculation, too mysterious and complex for human understanding. Aleksander, a world leader in the field of artificial intelligence, now attempts to unravel these arguments dispassionately for a general audience and provide a rigorous definition of consciousness. He shows how the latest work with artificial neural systems suggests not only that an artificial form of consciousness is possible but also that its design would clarify many of the puzzles surrounding the concept. A centrepiece of the book is Magnus, the author's 'conscious' computer program. But the book also looks at the representation of 'self' in robots, the learning of language, and the nature of abstract concepts such as emotion, will, instinct and feelings. The book is more than a comprehensive survey of modern ideas and research. It also provides a cultural history of the field, putting in broader context the work of pioneering scientists and philosophers.
Rezension: Of all genres of science book, none has generated so many works whose titles promise so much but which deliver so little as those devoted to consciousness. In recent years, scholars from disciplines from philosophy to neuropharmacology have hit the bestseller lists with books bearing such peremptory titles as Consciousness Explained--despite the fact they do no such thing. Now Igor Aleksander, Professor of Neural Engineering Systems at Imperial College London, has offered his own take on the subject with How to Build a Mind. And with an international reputation for actually building "intelligent" machines rather than idly talking about them, Aleksander would seem ideally qualified to write a book with something new to say on consciousness. Indeed, in the opening chapter he states that he wants to "avoid the yawns and the pointless late-night conversations" the subject usually engenders. Alas, How to Build a Mind is yet another case of too much bun and too little beef. A mishmash of autobiography, historical overview and disjointed opinion, interspersed with imagined conversations with philosophers, it adds very little to the consciousness debate. This is all the more disappointing given that Aleksander has arguably come closer to achieving the goal of his book's title than anyone else through Magnus, a computer program he devised which--in some sense at least--is aware of its existence, its surroundings and shows signs of exercising free will. Readers will find only a lacklustre discussion of this fascinating work in this book, which--perhaps uniquely in this field - radically undersells the author's expertise and achievements. -- Robert Matthews
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