How To Create A Mind by Ray Kurzweil

How To Create A Mind

How To Create A Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

My favorite ‘futurist‘ updates the reader on the state of Artificial Intelligence. Do do so he describes what science knows about how the human brain works. Very interesting and very odd to be reading about the very processes occurring while those processes are occurring because one is reading. Kurzweil writes beautifully and makes the complex understandable. Considering how much he knows about the human brain that may not be a coincidence. Kurzweil shows how the structures of the human brain at the lowest levels start to look like computer circuits, and modern computer are starting to operate more and more like the human mind. Kurzweil suggests in the not so distant future computer intelligence will become self aware and the consciousness will require a new way of looking at our machines. This will be followed a quick progression of machine intelligence that will outstrip our own intelligence. Kurzweil tries to show this will be beneficial, but his arguments don’t make me feel any better about it. While reading this book I noticed a lot talk about artificial intelligence in the media and in popular culture. People are thinking about it. I’m not sure what the answer(s) are but if you’re thinking about the question you should read this book.

352 pages

Excerpts From My Kindle

Human beings have only a weak ability to process logic, but a very deep core capability of recognizing patterns. To do logical thinking, we need to use the neocortex, which is basically a large pattern recognizer. It is not an ideal mechanism for performing logical transformations, but it is the only facility we have for the job. – location 643-645

True mind reading, therefore, would necessitate not just detecting the activations of the relevant axons in a persons brain, but examining essentially her entire neocortex with all of its memories to understand these activations. – location 870-871

We therefore hypothesized that a hierarchy analogous to that found for spatial receptive field sizes should also exist for the temporal response characteristics of different brain regions. This is exactly what they found, which enabled them to conclude that similar to the known cortical hierarchy of spatial receptive fields, there is a hierarchy of progressively longer temporal receptive windows in the human brain.  The most powerful argument for the universality of processing in the neocortex is the pervasive evidence of plasticity (not just learning but interchangeability): In other words, one region is able to do the work of other regions, implying a common algorithm across the entire neocortex. – location 1308-1312

Signals go up and down the conceptual hierarchy. A signal going up means, I’ve detected a pattern. A signal going down means, I’m expecting your pattern to occur, and is essentially a prediction. Both upward and downward signals can be either excitatory or inhibitory. Each pattern is itself in a particular order and is not readily reversed. Even if a pattern appears to have multidimensional aspects, it is represented by a one-dimensional sequence of lower-level patterns. A pattern is an ordered sequence of other patterns, so each recognizer is inherently recursive. There can be many levels of hierarchy. – location 1383-1388

With the advent of hierarchical thinking, the satisfaction of critical drives became more complex, as it was now subject to the vast complex of ideas within ideas. But despite its considerable modulation by the neocortex, the old brain is still alive and well and still motivating us with pleasure and fear. – location 1555-1557

Because of their links to many other parts of the brain, the high-level emotions that spindle cells process are affected by all of our perceptual and cognitive regions. It is important to point out that these cells are not doing rational problem solving, which is why we don’t have rational control over our responses to music or over falling in love. The rest of the brain is heavily engaged, however, in trying to make sense of our mysterious high-level emotions. – location 1633-1636

Our own creativity is orders of magnitude greater than that of the mouse and involves far more levels of abstraction because we have a much larger neocortex, which is capable of greater levels of hierarchy. So one way to achieve greater creativity is by effectively assembling more neocortex. – location 1722-1724

So with regard to consciousness, what exactly is the question again? It is this: Who or what is conscious? I refer to mind in the title of this book rather than brain because a mind is a brain that is conscious. – location 3031-3033

consciousness and memory are completely different concepts. As I have discussed extensively, if I think back on my moment-to-moment experiences over the past day, I have had a vast number of sensory impressions yet I remember very few of them. Was I therefore not conscious of what I was seeing and hearing all day? It is actually a good question, and the answer is not so clear. – location 3051-3054

Nonetheless I will continue to act as if I have free will and to believe in it, so long as I don’t have to explain why. – location 3588-3589


About craigmaas

I do a little web design work and support a couple web sites and blogs. My primary focus is lighting and energy consulting where I use a number of computer tools to help my customer find ways of saving money and improving their work environment. See my web site for more information:
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