Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Emotion Machine
Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence and the Future of the Human Mind
By Marvin Minsky
SIMON & SCHUSTER; 387 Pages; $26

Science may begin with wonder and strives ultimately for understanding, but as a practical matter, science is interested in how to do things. Physics formulated a few simple laws (governing how falling bodies behave, for example), which enabled engineering and technology to develop.

So when some scientists set out to create intelligent machines -- "machines to mimic our minds" -- Marvin Minsky writes, they looked for simple laws that govern how our brains work. They didn't find them, he argues, because our brains are "complicated machinery" and we need "to find more complicated ways to explain our most familiar mental events." Humans adapt to different environments and situations because our brains are resourceful -- we have lots of different ways to solve problems, and if one doesn't work, we can switch to another. This book is about what Minsky believes those processes are.

continued at the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

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