Ray Kurzweil:
"How to Create a Mind" (2013)

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
A better title would have been "How to Embarrass Yourself" but Kurzweil knows that he can rely on a devoted Silicon Valley audience (more like a church) that will take seriously anything written in this book.

First of all, it is really difficult to say anything about a book that talks about brain and mind and reveals from the onset virtually no knowledge of decades of neuroscience and philosophy of mind. He routinely misquotes and misunderstands when he refers to philosophers and psychologists.

The chapter "The Pattern Recognition Theory of Mind" is so amateurish that i could not finish it. It is based on hearsay (not on actually neuroscience) about the functioning of the brain and hardly mentions any of the discoveries of the last 20 years. There is no science at all: just a sort of granma's fairy tale about how neurons work. There is no discussion of what has to happen at the physical level for his pattern recognizer to actually work. What he is describing is simply an electronic machine that he has in mind for carrying out some pattern recognition tasks. That machine might well be useful for some tasks but it is pretty much like describing a wheelbarrow and claiming that it can be used to dig a tunnel under the Everest.

After some vague statements about consciousness (if i understand correctly, Kurzweil simply thinks that a machine that does what i do is conscious and there's no need to prove it), he retells stories told before about how the future of technology is about to change the very nature of our lives. Yawn.

Maybe it's his publisher who has to be derided. Maybe Kurzweil had no intention of using the title "How to Create a Mind" and the even more ridiculous subtitle "The Secret of Human Thought Revealed". This stuff belongs to the science of marketing toothpastes and canned soups.

My version of the Singularity is here.

See also: Kurzweil, Ray: "The Singularity is Near" (2005)

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