Igor Aleksander

Impossible Minds

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Impossible Minds: My Neurons, My Consciousness has been written to satisfy the curiosity each and every one of us has about our own consciousness. It takes the view that the neurons in our heads are the source of consciousness and attempts to explain how this happens. Although it talks of neural networks, it explains what they are and what they do in such a way that anyone may understand. While the topic is partly philosophical, the text makes no assumptions of prior knowledge of philosophy; and so contains easy excursions into the important ideas of philosophy that may be missing in the education of a computer scientist. The approach is pragmatic throughout; there are many references to material on experiments that were done in our laboratories.
The first edition of the book was written to introduce curious readers to the way that the consciousness we all enjoy might depend on the networks of neurons that make up the brain. In this second edition, it is recognized that these arguments still stand, but that they have been taken much further by an increasing number of researchers. A post-script has now been written for each chapter to inform the reader of these developments and provide an up-to-date bibliography. A new epilogue has been written to summarize the state-of-the art of the search for consciousness in neural automata, for researchers in computation, students of philosophy, and anyone who is fascinated by what is one of the most engaging scientific endeavours of the day.
This book also tells a story. A story of a land where people think that they are automata without much in the way of consciousness, a story of cormorants and cliffs by the sea, a story of what it might be like to be a conscious machine …
Contents:Who's Afraid of Magnus?Neurons and ThoughtAutomata and BrainsThe Inner Eye of ConsciousnessWho Am I?Beginnings and WordsGive me a Teddy …Qualia, Instinct and EmotionWhat's the Use of Artificial Minds?Magnus 2030 AD: An InterviewReadership: General. For members of the public with an interest in understanding human intelligence and artificial intelligence; and cross disciplinary learning across computing theory, philosophy and neuroscience (undergraduate through to research level).Key Features:The topic of the conscious neural brain in IM is treated from first principles, without assuming prior knowledge of neural systems whether artificial or real. It is intended to take the reader to a level at which she or he can appreciate what is done in research laboratories and material written in the journal literature. This pedagogic approach is rare in competing volumesWhile the topic is partly philosophical, IM makes no assumptions of prior knowledge of philosophy. So it contains easy excursions into the important ideas of philosophy that may be missing in the education of a computer scientist. Competing books often exclude those not versed in philosophyThe approach is pragmatic throughout. There are many references to material on experiments that were done in our laboratories. Competitors rarely refer to working models
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512 printed pages
Original publication
2014

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