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How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed
£12.80
How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed
new york times review: According to Wikipedia, Ray Kurzweil is an American author, inventor, futurist, and director of engineering at Google. Aside from futurology, he is involved in such fields as optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments. So he is a computer engineer specializing in word recognition technology, with a side interest in bold predictions about future machines. He is not a professional neuroscientist or psychologist or philosopher. Yet here we have a book purporting to reveal—no less—“the secret of human thought.” Kurzweil is going to tell us, in no uncertain terms, “how to create a mind”: that is to say, he has a grand theory of the human mind, in which its secrets will be finally revealed. These are strong claims indeed, and one looks forward eagerly to learning what this new theory will look like. Perhaps at first one feels a little skeptical that Kurzweil has succeeded where so many have failed, but one tries to keep an open mind—hoping the book will justify the hype so blatantly brandished in its title. After all, Kurzweil has honors from three US presidents (so says Wikipedia) and was the “principal inventor of the first CCD flatbed scanner” and other useful devices, as well as receiving many other entrepreneurial awards. He is clearly a man of many parts—but is ultimate theoretician of the mind one of them? What is this grand theory? It is set out in chapter 3 of the book, “A Model of the Neocortex: The Pattern Recognition Theory of Mind.” One cannot help noting immediately that the theory echoes Kurzweil’s professional achievements as an inventor of word recognition machines: the “secret of human thought” is pattern recognition, as it is implemented in the hardware of the brain. To create a mind therefore we need to create a machine that recognizes patterns, such as letters and words. Calling this the PRTM (pattern recognition theory of mind), Kurzweil outlines what his theory amounts to by reference to the neural architecture of the neocortex, the wrinkled thin outer layer of the brain. According to him, there are about 300 million neural pattern recognizers in the neocortex, with a distinctive arrangement of dendrites and axons (the tiny fibers that link one neuron to another). A stimulus is presented, say, the letter “A,” and these little brain machines respond by breaking it down into its geometric constituents, which are then processed: thus “A” is analyzed into a horizontal bar and two angled lines meeting at a point. By recognizing each constituent separately, the neural machine can combine them and finally recognize that the stimulus is an instance of the letter “A.” It can then use this information to combine with other letter recognizers to recognize, say, the word “APPLE.” This procedure is said to be “hierarchical,” meaning that it proceeds by part-whole analysis: from elementary shapes, to letters, to words, to sentences. To recognize the whole pattern you first have to recognize the parts. The process of recognition, which involves the firing of neurons in response to stimuli from the world, will typically include weightings of various features, as well as a lowering of response thresholds for probable constituents of the pattern. Thus some features will be more important than others to the recognizer, while the probability of recognizing a presented shape as an “E” will be higher if it occurs after “APPL.” These recognizers will therefore be “intelligent,” able to anticipate and correct for poverty and distortion in the stimulus. This process mirrors our human ability to recognize a face, say, when in shadow or partially occluded or drawn in caricature. Kurzweil contends that such pattern recognizers are uniform across the brain, so that all regions of the neocortex work in basically the same manner. This is why, he thinks, the brain exhibits plasticity: one part can take over the job performed by another part because all parts work according to the same principles. It is this uniformity of anatomy and function that emboldens him to claim that he has a quite general theory of the mind, since pattern recognition is held to be the essence of mind and all pattern recognition is implemented by the same basic neural mechanisms. And since we can duplicate these mechanisms in a machine, there is nothing to prevent us from creating an artificial mind—we just need to install the right pattern recognizers (which Kurzweil can manufacture for a price). The “secret of thought” is therefore mechanical pattern recognition, with hierarchical structure and suitable weightings for constituent features. All is revealed! What are we to make of this theory? First, pattern recognition is a subject much studied by perceptual psychologists, so Kurzweil is hardly original in calling attention to it (I worked on it myself as a psychology student back in 1970). What is more original is his contention that it provides the key to mental phenomena in general. However, that claim seems obviously false. Pattern recognition pertains to perception specifically, not to all mental activity: the perceptual systems process stimuli and categorize what is presented to the senses, but that is only part of the activity of the mind. In what way does thinking involve processing a stimulus and categorizing it? When I am thinking about London while in Miami I am not recognizing any presented stimulus as London—since I am not perceiving London with my senses. There is no perceptual recognition going on at all in thinking about an absent object. So pattern recognition cannot be the essential nature of thought. This point seems totally obvious and quite devastating, yet Kurzweil has nothing to say about it, not even acknowledging the problem. He does in one place speak of dreaming as a “sequence of patterns” and he might try to say the same about thinking. But this faces obvious objections. First, even if that is true, there is no pattern recognition involved when I dream, or when I think about London and my friends and relatives there. So his “model of the neocortex” does not apply. Second, it is quite unclear what this description is supposed to mean. Why is a dream a sequence of “patterns,” instead of just ideas or images or hallucinations? The notion of “pattern” has lost its moorings in the geometric models of letters and faces: Are we seriously to suppose that dreams and thoughts have geometrical shape? At best the word “pattern” is now being used loosely and metaphorically; there is no theory of dreaming or thinking here. Similarly for Kurzweil’s claim that memories are “sequences of patterns”: What notion of pattern is he working with here? Why is remembering that I have to feed the cat itself some kind of pattern? What has happened is that he has switched from patterns as stimuli in the external environment to patterns as mental entities, without acknowledging the switch; and it is hardly plausible to suggest that dreams and thoughts are themselves geometric patterns that we introspectively recognize. So what is the point of calling dreams and thoughts “patterns”? The truth is that the PRTM does not generalize beyond its original home of sensory perception—the recognition of external patterns in the environment. Indeed, it is notable that Kurzweil makes no serious effort to generalize beyond the perceptual case, blithely proceeding as if everything mental involves perception. In fact, it is not even clear that all perception involves pattern recognition in any significant sense. When I see an apple as red, do I recognize the color as a pattern? No, because the color is not a geometric arrangement of shapes or anything analogous to that—it is simply a homogeneous sensory quality. Is the sweetness of sugar or the smell of a rose a pattern? Not every perceived feature of objects resembles a letter of the alphabet or a word—the objects of Kurzweil’s professional interest and expertise. Then there are such mental phenomena as emotion, imagination, reasoning, willing, intending, calculating, silently talking to oneself, feeling pain and pleasure, itches, and moods—the full panoply of the mind. In what useful sense do all these count as “pattern recognition”? Certainly they are nothing like the perceptual cases on which Kurzweil focuses. He makes no attempt to explain how these very various mental phenomena fit his supposedly general theory of mind—and they clearly do not. So he has not shown us how to “create a mind,” or come anywhere near to doing so. Thus the hype of the title explodes very early and with a feeble fizzle. Why write a book with such an ambitious title and then deliver so little? There is another glaring problem with Kurzweil’s book: the relentless and unapologetic use of homunculus language. Kurzweil writes: “The firing of the axon is that pattern recognizer shouting the name of the pattern: ‘Hey guys, I just saw the written word “apple.”’” Again: If, for example, we are reading from left to right and have already seen and recognized the letters “A,” “P,” “P,” and “L,” the “APPLE” recognizer will predict that it is likely to see an “E” in the next position. It will send a signal down to the “E” recognizer saying, in effect, “Please be aware that there is a high likelihood that you will see your “E” pattern very soon, so be on the lookout for it.” The “E” recognizer then adjusts its threshold such that it is more likely to recognize an “E.” Presumably (I am not entirely sure) Kurzweil would agree that such descriptions cannot be taken literally: individual neurons don’t say things or predict things or see things—though it is perhaps as if they do. People say and predict and see, not little bunches of neurons, still less bits of machines. Such anthropomorphic descriptions of cortical activity must ultimately be replaced by literal descriptions of electric charge and chemical transmission (though they may be harmless for expository purposes). Still, they are not scientifically acceptable as they stand. But the problem bites deeper than that, for two reasons. First, homunculus talk can give rise to the illusion that one is nearer to accounting for the mind, properly so-called, than one really is. If neural clumps can be characterized in psychological terms, then it looks as if we are in the right conceptual ballpark when trying to explain genuine mental phenomena—such as the recognition of words and faces by perceiving conscious subjects. But if we strip our theoretical language of psychological content, restricting ourselves to the physics and chemistry of cells, we are far from accounting for the mental phenomena we wish to explain. An army of homunculi all recognizing patterns, talking to each other, and having expectations might provide a foundation for whole-person pattern recognition; but electrochemical interactions across cell membranes are a far cry from actually consciously seeing something as the letter “A.” How do we get from pure chemistry to full-blown psychology? And the second point is that even talk of “pattern recognition” by neurons is already far too homunculus-like for comfort: people (and animals) recognize patterns—neurons don’t. Neurons simply emit electrical impulses when caused to do so by impinging stimuli; they don’t recognize anything in the literal sense. Recognizing is a conscious mental act. Neither do neurons read or understand—though they may be said to simulate these mental acts.
Amazon UK
The Lean Startup
£14.99 £11.99
The Lean Startup
THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING SENSATION Most new businesses fail. But most of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach to business that's being adopted around the world. It is changing the way companies are built and new products are launched. The Lean Startup is about learning what your customers really want. It's about testing your vision continuously, adapting and adjusting before it's too late. Now is the time to think Lean.
Waterstones
Time Out Country Walks Near London: v. 2
£12.99
Time Out Country Walks Near London: v. 2
The second volume of the Time Out Book of Country Walks has been fully revised and updated. It features 30 country walks within easy reach of London - taking you through glorious countryside, all on scenic footpaths with a minimum of road walking. Between 4 and 13 miles long, the walks are graded for difficulty and contain meticulous directions. Building on the success of the original book and created by the walking club that grew out of it, these walks are guaranteed to breathe life into the most jaded Londoner.
Waterstones
Steal Like an Artist
£9.99
Steal Like an Artist
When asked to talk to students at Broome Community College in upstate New York in the spring of 2011, Austin Kleon wrote a simple list often things he wished he'd heard when he was their age: 'Steal like an artist; Don't wait until you know who you are to start making things; Write the book you want to read; Use your hands; Side projects are important; Do good work and put it where people can see it; Geography is no longer our master; Be nice (the world is a small town.); Be boring (it's the only way to get work done.); and, Creativity is subtraction.' After giving the speech, he posted the text and slides to his popular blog, where it quickly went viral. Now Kleon has expanded his original manifesto into an illustrated guide to the creative life for writers, artists, entrepreneurs, designers, photographers, musicians, and anyone attempting to make things - art, a career, a life - in the digital age. Brief, direct, and visually interactive, the book includes illustrative anecdotes and mini-exercise sections calling out practical actions readers can take to unleash their own creative spirits.
Waterstones
Out of Our Minds
£17.99
Out of Our Minds
"It is often said that education and training are the keys to the future. They are, but a key can be turned in two directions. Turn it one way andyou lock resources away, even from those they belong to. Turn it the otherway and you release resources and give people back to themselves. To realizeour true creative potential-in our organizations, in our schools and in our communities-we need to think differently about ourselves and to actdifferently towards each other. We must learn to be creative." -Ken Robinson PRAISE FOR OUT OF OUR MINDS "Ken Robinson writes brilliantly about the different ways in which creativity is undervalued and ignored ...especially in our educational systems." -John Cleese "Out of Our Minds explains why being creative in today'sworld is a vital necessity. This book is not to be missed." -Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One-minute Manager and The Secret "If ever there was a time when creativity was necessary for the survival andgrowth of any organization, it is now. This book, more than any other I know, providesimportant insights on how leaders can evoke and sustain those creative juices." -Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California; Thomas S. Murphy Distinguished Rresearch Fellow, Harvard Business School; Best-selling Author, Geeks and Geezers "All corporate leaders should read this book." -Richard Scase, Author and Business Forecaster "This really is a remarkable book. It does for human resources what Rachel Carson's Silent Spring did for the environment." -Wally Olins, Founder, Wolff-olins "Books about creativity are not always creative. Ken Robinson's is a welcome exception" -Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, c.s. and d.j. Davidson Professor of Psychology, Claremont Graduate University; Director, Quality of Life Research Center; Best-selling Author, Flow "The best analysis I've seen of the disjunction between the kinds of intelligence that we have traditionally honored in schools and the kinds ofcreativity that we need today in our organizations and our society." -Howard Gardner, a. hobbs professor in cognition and education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Best-selling Author, Frames of Mind
Waterstones
Creative Walls: How to Display and Enjoy Your Treasured Collections (Hardback)
£19.99 £15.99
Creative Walls: How to Display and Enjoy Your Treasured Collections (Hardback)
Creative Walls will inspire you to organize and arrange your collections on any surface in your home to create character, charm and elegance. Any wall is perfect for display, whatever its size, shape or style. In this inspirational guide, Geraldine James, veteran collector of all things beautiful, shows ways to organize and display your treasured collections to celebrate their uniqueness and your creativity. Fans, teapots or clocks can illuminate a little corner, whereas a teenager's bedroom will transform instantly when hoarded football memorabilia makes the leap from the floor to the wall in a bold, clever arrangement. Look for unusual spaces and items: line up a series of themed prints above a picture rail, set heaps of floral china plates in grand style above the fireplace or simply add a mirror into a display to instantly create another in its image. Chapter by chapter, discover how to arrange virtually anything from scratch, rearrange the collections you treasure to best effect and begin a journey into colour, texture and themes to create elegant displays that give a home character and charm. From a memory wall of sepia family photographs to witty collections of kitsch art, this clever guide shows how to create a look that will bring any space to life.
Waterstones
Salad Daze: The Hot Knives Vegeterian Cookbook Assort...
£18.00 £10.00
Salad Daze: The Hot Knives Vegeterian Cookbook Assort...
Evan George and Alex Brown are also known as 'The Hot Knives' and their book has stemmed from their popular blog from which they built up a following with their exciting vegetarian and vegan recipe posts. This books focuses on the vegetables and the creation of sauces, marinades, dips and condiments and the ways in which you can use them to make your vegetarian food more exciting. The bold photographs will have your mouth watering before you even start cooking any of the delicious recipes that The Hot Knives have in store for you. Details: - Hardback - Author: Alex Brown & Evan George - Publisher: Mark Batty Publisher - Dimensions: 18.5cm (W) x 25cm (L) x 1.5cm (D) - Pages: 128
Urban Outfitters
Urban Outfitters Banksy Myths & Legends Assort
£5.95 £4.00
Urban Outfitters Banksy Myths & Legends Assort
This book explores the myths and legends that have been created by the street Artist, Banksy. Collated between 2009 and 2011, this selection of his works touch on the subjects that Banksy has brought to light. Are they myths? Are they legends? Or is he simply having a laugh? You can be the judge of that. Details: - Paperback - Author: Marc Leverton - Publisher: Carpet Bombing Culture - Dimensions: 11cm (W) x 20m (L) x 1.5cm (D) - Pages: 96
Urban Outfitters
Metamorphosis and Other Stories
£8.99
Metamorphosis and Other Stories
This collection of new translations brings together the small proportion of Kafka's works that he thought worthy of publication. It includes "Metamorphosis", his most famous work, an exploration of horrific transformation and alienation; "Meditation", a collection of his earlier studies; "The Judgement", written in a single night of frenzied creativity; "The Stoker", the first chapter of a novel set in America and a fascinating occasional piece, "The Aeroplanes at Brescia", Kafka's eyewitness account of an air display in 1909. Together, these stories reveal the breadth of Kafka's literary vision and the extraordinary imaginative depth of his thought.
Waterstones
What the Dog Saw
£9.99
What the Dog Saw
In these breathtaking intellectual adventure stories, covering everything from criminology to ketchup, job interviews to dog training, Malcolm Gladwell looks under the surface of everyday life to show how the most ordinary subjects can illuminate the most extraordinary things about us and our world. 'Masterpieces in the art of the essay' Steven Pinker, The New York Times 'Beautiful ...brings together the writing that made Gladwell the extraordinary figure he is today ...one of the most imaginative non-fiction writers of his generation' Ian Sample, Guardian 'Chatty, perceptive, impish and amiable ...Comes exuberantly close to ...what goes on inside other people's heads' Philip Womack, Daily Telegraph 'Gladwell makes the world seem fresh and exciting again' Evening Standard
Waterstones
Outliers
£9.99
Outliers
Why do some people achieve so much more than others? Can they lie so far out of the ordinary? In this provocative and inspiring book, Malcolm Gladwell looks at everyone from rock stars to professional athletes, software billionaires to scientific geniuses, to show that the story of success is far more surprising, and far more fascinating, than we could ever have imagined. He reveals that it's as much about where we're from and what we do, as who we are - and that no one, not even a genius, ever makes it alone. Outliers will change the way you think about your own life story, and about what makes us all unique. 'Gladwell is not only a brilliant storyteller; he can see what those stories tell us, the lessons they contain' Guardian 'Malcolm Gladwell is a global phenomenon ...he has a genius for making everything he writes seem like an impossible adventure' Observer 'He is the best kind of writer - the kind who makes you feel like you're a genius, rather than he's a genius' The Times
Waterstones
The Great Gatsby
£6.99 £5.49
The Great Gatsby
Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction – Gatsby who represented everything for which I have unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that measure earthquakes ten thousand miles away. The Great Gatsby is F. Scott Fitzgerald's brilliant fable of the hedonistic excess and tragic reality of 1920s America. Young, handsome and fabulously rich, Jay Gatsby is the bright star of the Jazz Age, but as writer Nick Carraway is drawn into the decadent orbit of his Long Island mansion, where the party never seems to end, he finds himself faced by the mystery of Gatsby's origins and desires. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life, Gatsby is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon, this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald brilliantly captures both the disillusionment of post-war America and the moral failure of a society obsessed with wealth and status. But he does more than render the essence of a particular time and place, for - in chronicling Gatsby's tragic pursuit of his dream - Fitzgerald re-creates the universal conflict between illusion and reality. 'A classic, perhaps the supreme American novel' John Carey, Sunday Times Books of the Century Like Jay Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) has acquired a mythical status in American literary history, and his masterwork The Great Gatsby is considered by many to be the 'great American novel'. In 1920 he married Zelda Sayre, dubbed 'the first American Flapper', and their traumatic marriage and Zelda's gradual descent into insanity became the leading influence on his writing. As well as many short stories, Fitzgerald wrote five novels This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and the Damned, Tender is the Night and, incomplete at the time of his death, The Last Tycoon. After his death The New York Times said of him that 'in fact and in the literary sense he created a "generation"'. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by Tony Tanner.
Waterstones
Animal Farm
£12.99
Animal Farm
"Animal Farm" is one of the most famous warnings ever written. Orwell's immortal satire - 'against Stalin' as he wrote to his French translator - can be read on many levels. With its piercing clarity and deceptively simple style it is no surprise that this novel is required reading for schoolchildren and politicians alike. This fable of the steadfast horses Boxer and Clover, the opportunistic pigs Snowball and Napoleon, and the deafening choir of sheep remains an unparalleled masterpiece. One reviewer wrote 'In a hundred years' time perhaps "Animal Farm" ...may simply be a fairy story: today it is a fairy story with a good deal of point.' Over sixty years on in the age of spin, it is more relevant than ever. Rejected by such eminent publishing figures as Victor Gollancz, Jonathan Cape and T.S. Eliot, "Animal Farm" was published to great acclaim by Martin Secker and Warburg on 17 August 1945 in an edition of 4500 copies. In the centenary year of Martin Secker, Ltd., Harvill Secker is proud to publish this special edition with a brand-new introduction by Christopher Hitchens.
Waterstones
Cycling in the UK
£20.00
Cycling in the UK
More and more of us are turning to cycling, whether as an inexpensive, healthy and environmentally friendly means of getting to work or school, or as a way of exploring Britain's towns, cities and countryside. More than 75 per cent of UK residents live within two miles of the National Cycle Network, and a continuous program of development led by Sustrans (the UK's leading sustainable transport charity) means it is growing all the time. "Cycling in the UK" is the official guide to the National Cycle Network, bringing together the expertise of two of Britain's great pioneering transport organizations (The AA and Sustrans) to create this comprehensive cycling guide. This updated guide contains all the essential information for planning a cycling trip in Britain - practical advice on what to take, difficulty rating and where to stop along the way, plus expert advice on practical issues such as what to wear and how to stay safe on your bike, as well as tips on basic maintenance. With clearly marked maps, recommended rides, details of what to see, and superb photography, "Cycling in the UK" provides all the information you need to see the best of Britain from the best seat in the house.
Waterstones
Street Photography Now
£19.95 £15.99
Street Photography Now
Now available in Paperback. Get up close and personal with the world's best street photographers as they capture the drama of everyday life at 1/125 of a second. Prowl pavements and back alleys, encountering comic absurdities, small acts of kindness and scenes of unexpected beauty; let your eye be caught by a witty billboard, a woman dressed as an angel, a businessman sprinting through the crowd: the human carnival is in town and the streets are alive. Street Photography Now presents 46 contemporary image-makers noted for their candid depictions of everyday life. Included are Magnum masters such as Bruce Gilden, Martin Parr and Alex Webb, along with an international cast of emerging photographers whose individual biographies illuminate the stories behind their pictures of New York, Tokyo, Delhi or Dakar. Four thought-provoking essays and a global conversation between leading street photographers explore the compelling and often controversial issues in the genre. A select bibliography and a resource section for aspiring street photographers complete the book.
Waterstones
The Art of Photography
£29.99
The Art of Photography
This is an updated and newly revised edition of the classic book The Art of Photography (originally published in 1994), which has often been described as the most readable, understandable, and complete textbook on photography. With well over 100 beautiful photographic illustrations in both black-and-white and color, as well as numerous charts, graphs, and tables, this book presents the world of photography to beginner, intermediate, and advanced photographers seeking to make a personal statement through the medium of photography. Without talking down to anyone, or talking over anyone's head, Barnbaum presents "how to" techniques for both traditional and digital approaches. Yet he goes well beyond the technical, as he delves deeply into the philosophical, expressive, and creative aspects of photography so often avoided in other books. Bruce Barnbaum is recognized as one of the world's finest landscape and architectural photographers, and for decades has been considered one of the best instructors in the field of photography. This latest incarnation of his textbook, which has evolved, grown, and been refined over the past 35 years, will prove to be an ongoing, invaluable photographic reference for years to come. It is truly the resource of choice for the thinking photographer.
Waterstones
Urban Outfitters Dirty French Assort
£6.99
Urban Outfitters Dirty French Assort
Learn all the French phrases they didn't teach you at school with this D!rty French book. Bridging the gap between classroom learnt French, and the language that is actually spoken on the streets of France - you'll be glad you made this worthwhile investment. Use it to make friends with the locals or to save you from any tricky situation! Learn cool slang, funny insults, and not-for-the-faint-hearted graphic sexual terminology that would make your French teacher blush.
Urban Outfitters

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