An excellent choice for both the newcomer looking for an introduction to the debate over artificial intelligence and a more...

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Are the Androids Dreaming Yet?

AMAZING BRAIN. HUMAN COMMUNICATION, CREATIVITY & FREE WILL

A synoptic overview of the debate regarding artificial intelligence coupled with a defense of the uniqueness of human consciousness.

The extraordinary progress of neuroscience has led many to believe that a comprehensive explanation of human thought—and its artificial replication—is a theoretical inevitability. First-time author and inventor Tagg argues, however, that the analogy between human cognition and artificial computation is flawed. In fact, computers don’t really seem to think or understand at all in the sense in which humans do, and their often amazing feats are accomplished with a minimum of creativity and no self-awareness. Also, while computers can mimic human communication, our exchanges are so riddled with microscopic nuance that machines could never adequately capture all of them. So while Tagg concedes that machines execute algorithms with far greater efficiency than their human counterparts, that fact alone doesn’t tell the whole story: “Machines cannot discover theorems using algorithms, yet mathematicians do it all the time.” The investigation covers the main players and theories in the field, including Alan Turing, Daniel Dennet, John Searle, Roger Penrose, and even René Descartes, among many others. The culmination of the study is a philosophical argument that human rationality is the basis for our free will, a capacity that ultimately distinguishes between human action and intellection from its artificial counterpart. Especially given the densely technical nature of the debates covered here, as well as the unavoidable employment of specialized terminology, Tagg does an admirable job keeping his prose clear and relatively uncluttered. Along the way, he includes helpful illustrations, as well as experiments and puzzles. What emerges is a challenging contention that computation is only one narrow component of human mental life, which also includes intuition and emotion. Also, Tagg articulates a kind of skeptical epistemology that outlines how one can reasonably hold a belief without becoming irrationally attached to it in the face of counterfactual evidence. An impressive effort full of depth and rigor.

An excellent choice for both the newcomer looking for an introduction to the debate over artificial intelligence and a more sophisticated reader looking for a deep reassessment.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-910464-03-8

Page Count: 436

Publisher: Hurst Farm Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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