Brainmakers: How Scientists Moving Beyond Computers Create Rival to Humn Brain

Brainmakers: How Scientists Moving Beyond Computers Create Rival to Humn Brain

by David H. Freedman
     
 

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A fascinating tour behind the scenes at laboratories around the world as top researchers race to create revolutionary "thinking machines" that may one day lead to a new form of intelligence.

Join David Freedman as he takes you on a fascinating tour behind the scenes at laboratories around the world as top researchers race to create revolutionary "thinking…  See more details below

Overview

A fascinating tour behind the scenes at laboratories around the world as top researchers race to create revolutionary "thinking machines" that may one day lead to a new form of intelligence.

Join David Freedman as he takes you on a fascinating tour behind the scenes at laboratories around the world as top researchers race to create revolutionary "thinking machines" that may one day lead to a new form of intelligence.

The subject of fantasy and skepticism for centuries—from William James's mechanical bride to 2001's Hal to Star Wars' R2D2—artificial intelligence has been limited to number-crunching computers that are "smart" only in highly specific domains like chess—until now. Brainmakers is an eye-opening, mind-expanding, and mind-blowing journey through laboratories engaged in cutting-edge research into neuroscience and robotics. Inside, you'll discover:

MIT's Attila, a 3.6-pound, six-legged robot that learns as it interacts with its surroundings.

Japan's efforts to grow brain cells on chips and construct a "wiring diagram" of the human brain.

UCLA's "robot farm," where robots will be "bred" for intelligence.

In exciting yet accessible detail, Freedman shows how this research has moved into a new realm that transcends computer science, combining neuroscience, microbiology, evolutionary biology, and zoology. Modeled after natural rather than artificial intelligence, thinking machines may soon develop powers that rival—or exceed—those of the human brain.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Freelance science writer Freedman's compelling state-of-the-art report on the quest to build human-like thinking machines explores how the field of artificial intelligence is being reinvigorated through AI researchers' interface with neuroscience, biology and robotics. At MIT, Attila, a six-legged robot, crawls around, learning new skills by interacting with its environment. In Japan, scientists are making movies of the neuron-to-neuron flow of signals inside the brains of live rats; their ultimate goal is a ``wiring diagram'' illustrating how the human brain works. At UCLA, computer scientists have designed a ``robot farm'' where robots will ``mate'' by merging their programs; an occasional mutation will be added to imitate biological evolution. Even more science fiction-like are biophysicists' and AI experts' efforts to harness the self-organizing and memory capabilities of biomolecules (e.g., bacterial protein or RNA) which may one day replace transistors on microchips or even serve as the basis for ``biomolecular computers.'' (Apr.)
Jon Kartman
If you think supercomputers like Hal 9000, star of "2001", are inevitable, Freedman may surprise you. For after more than 30 years of trying to create an electronic brain that matches our glob of gray matter, he discloses, scientists and engineers readily admit they are still far from any such goal. Lest you start thinking the artificial intelligence field is totally barren, Freedman shows what's presently in it--computers ranging from some that can think and do logic but not much else to others that can almost sing and dance but don't have the sense to come in out of the rain. The scientific movers and shakers have come to a dead end in trying to make computer brains that look and act like R2D2 and instead are looking at how the brain evolved. Ironically, the lowly cockroach and other bugs may provide the inspiration for actually building a brain. Some of the newest developments are downright startling, allowing Freedman to assert that the next decade or so may see "thinking" computers that may make Hal 9000 seem outmoded in the real year 2001.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439142790
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
06/15/2010
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

David H. Freedman is a contributing editor for Inc. Magazine, and has written on science, business, and technology for The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Science, Wired, and many other publications. His newest book, Wrong, about why experts keep failing us, came out in June, 2010. His last book (coauthored) was A Perfect Mess, about the useful role of disorder in daily life, business, and science. He is also the author of books about the US Marines, computer crime, and artificial intelligence. Freedman's blog, “Making Sense of Medicine,” takes a close, critical look at medical findings making current headlines with an eye to separating out the frequent hype. He lives near Boston.

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