After a solid intro from Hawkins, Stefan Rudnicki takes over the narrating reins. The effect is an audio program with a compelling ability to anticipate the question taking form in your own brain as you listen, then answer it with clarity and sincerity. That's a feat worthy of admiration.
Hawkins develops a powerful theory of how the human brain works, explaining why computers are not intelligent and how, based on this new theory, we can finally build intelligent machines.
The brain is not a computer, but a memory system that stores experiences in a way that reflects the true structure of the world, remembering sequences of events and their nested relationships and making predictions based on those memories. It is this memory-prediction system that forms the basis of intelligence, perception, creativity, and even consciousness.
In an engaging style that will captivate audiences from the merely curious to the professional scientist, Hawkins shows how a clear understanding of how the brain works will make it possible for us to build intelligent machines, in silicon, that will exceed our human ability in surprising ways.
Written with acclaimed science writer Sandra Blakeslee, On Intelligence promises to completely transfigure the possibilities of the technology age. It is a landmark book in its scope and clarity.
©2004 Jeff Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee; (P)2005 Audible, Inc.
"[Hawkins's] argument is complex but comprehensible, and his curiosity will intrigue anyone interested in the lessons neurobiology may hold for AI." (Booklist)
"[Hawkins] fully anticipates, even welcomes, the controversy he may provoke within the scientific community and admits that he might be wrong, even as he offers a checklist of potential discoveries that could prove him right. His engaging speculations are sure to win fans." (Publishers Weekly)
Although Hawkins is almost certainly wrong on certain point, such as his "blank slate" commitment concerning the brains with which we are born and almost annoyingly self-righteous when discussing "consciousness," about which he admits to not being expert but launchs energetically about anyway, the book was wonderfully ease to access. The clarity of explanation concerning what should have been an abstruse subject was a relief. I feel I know much more about the subject than I did before starting. It was well written and even better read by an excellent narrator. Thank you, Jeff!
Mr. Hawkins will be the first to admit this is not a book to explain everything about intelligence but an important first step. He puts forward a rational explanation of how intelligence in man works in practical mechanical terms. It is a theory but he has much to back-up his conjectures. His theory gets the ball rolling for a frank discussion of why, how, and what we really doing in our mind when we think. He avoids general behavior and philosophical musing about the human mind (that we are all to often inundated with on books about intelligence). I enjoyed every bit of it. At the very least you'll enjoy he very different approach to this age old question.
This book is a really great start to addressing the problem of how we humans think. Good job Mr. Hawkins.
No doubt Jeff Hawkins is a brilliant cortex, given that each one of us and the world we live in is nothing more than the experience of an active cortex. But he is not a wise human, which, in my mind, is the greatest achievement of homo sapiens, not the ability to recreate intellience in a machine.
It is telling that he admits to never studying the nature of consciousness, but in one pithy statement of "fact", reduces it to one thing - the neo-cortex experience. When the cortex ceases to function, so does consciousness. It's not that he holds this "belief" that is troublesome, but rather the arrogance with which he holds his cortex-created model of the world to be "the truth."
This book is an excellent example of the scientist telling us how the trunk of an elephant works and the value of putting that information to work for us humans, but the consistent conclusion that the elephant IS the trunk is tiresome, offensive, and indicative of an immature soul.
Not being schooled in AI or neuroscience, I have no judgement on his theory - other than it is too reductionistic in general - and as one who has a passion for understanding as much as I can about being human, the discussion of how the brain works and what a model of this might be was enjoyable.
As for the narrator, I found the voice professional and easy to listen to. What struck me having heard Jeff's voice, however, was how different the tone and character was between them. Jeff's voice - in my Blink judgement - exudes enthusiastic immaturity; the actor's voice is calm, maturity. For the record, my invariant representation of wisdom (i.e., mature intelligence) is based on 30 yrs of studying religion, sprituality, and human development. IMHO, my cortex is well-trained in this area.
In sum, I welcome the endeavor to create truly intelligent machines, but I suspect Jeff & others will learn a lot more about the complexity of the human experience along the way.
This is one of the worst books I have heard.
Yes, there were some interesting ideas.
But there were so many errors and faulty assumptions, that it made it hard to accept even his simplistic and obvious claims (and he made many of these).
I resented his assertions that everyone but him, all scientists and AI (Artificial Intelligence) researchers in particular, just don't get it. I assume that some of this attitude comes from the fact that MIT rejected him. But many of his claims regarding what certain fields think about the brain are just wrong.
For example, he mentions several times that AI researchers believe that a computer is just like the human brain. While some may talk metaphoricaly of the mind as computer, I have never heard the claim that the human brain works just like the hardware of a computer.
(disclosure: My PhD is in AI)
Computer Programmer and Worship Leader. Have enjoyed reading since my mom got me hooked on Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie prior to my teen years. My brother got me hooked on audio books after I started having a longer commute to work. Love a variety of genres.
This is really a fascinating book when it comes to the author's theory of how the brain works. I was greatly surprised by his assertion that very few unified theories exist regarding how the brain produces or mainfests "intelligence". It will be interesting to see if the theories offered in this book will stand the test of time, but the observations made regarding pattern recognition seem very true to experience.
There are times that it is hard to visualize the concepts regarding the various "levels" of the cerebral cortex, but the downloadable drawings help a bit.
My biggest criticism of the book is not scientific, but the author's logical inconsistencies when dealing with metaphysics. The author makes it clear that he believes our "minds" and "selves" are nothing more that the functioning of the brain (ie. no "soul" or anything beyond the physical). He makes it clear that he believes that our beliefs about morality are shaped by the "patterns" we grow up with - and that these "biases" can be very counterproductive. He also states that romantic "love" is really nothing more that a complex chemical process that starts in the brain and moves throughout the body.
If the author had stopped there, I would do no more than respectively disagree. However, mere pages later the author states that it is important that we teach our children the "right" values and morals and that we espouse healthy loving relationships in our families. This author is far too smart to be unaware that if what he says is true in the prevous pages, both of these admonitions have no real meaning and are actually at odds with what he just stated.
Overall - fascinating stuff to think about, but realize that the author has a naturalistic bias that he applies consistently when dealing with science, but inconsistenly when addressing the logical conclusions of his scientific beliefs.
BTW - The author's preface was great - he would have made a GREAT reader for the book!!
I enjoy reading fantasy, science fiction, and horror the most. To improve, I read about language, psychology, spirituality, and art. I read about computer science and business for professional reasons.
On Intelligence is written in a very explanatory and interesting way. The examples and problems are the sort that make you think in a deep way, and are great thought exercises.
The topics covered range from psychology to neuroscience to artificial intelligence. I found a lot of the information new, a lot built on previous knowledge, and a lot was the authors unique perspective. The unique perspective was based on scientific reasoning and superb analysis.
I did find myself lost at times in some of the details. My suspicion is that because I didn't view the figures before or while listening to the audio version, I was missing a lot of data. I'll probably listen to this book again in the future after studying further and checking out the figures that are used as examples.
This book was a very exciting listen. On Intelligence was able to explain to me how the brain, neo-cortex in particular, really works. Additionally they, along with Stefan Rudnicki, made this explanation both accessible and pleasurable. I am very impressed and, in my opinion, this is a groundbreaking work and a must read.
In 2005 I had a stroke. That event left me with loss of vision in the left hemisphere and a few cognitive concerns. This audio book while not the Stroke Survivors handbook provided me nourishing insights to the brain's structure and core intelligence. Both well written and read the information goes beyond our perception of intelligent robots and the quest for artificial intelligent (AI) software. Plus, you don't have to be a neuro jock or programmer to appreciate the principles conveyed. I'm reasonably certain anyone with an interest of the Scarecrow will find this book helpful and delightful. Enjoy the book. It provides many moments that will cause you to ponder and say uh hah.
This was a great book. There are a couple of tables that were explained but obviously could not be included in the audio version. I do have to inform listeners of this book you may have to listen to it more then once to understand everything, but it is not so over the top that it is impossible to grasp, but it is a little deep. Just a warning if you want a light read this is not it, but if you want to change your understanding of the way that the mind works, this is THE book for you.
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