IN THE IMAGE OF THE BRAIN

BREAKING THE BARRIER BETWEEN THE HUMAN MIND AND INTELLIGENT MACHINES

All of a sudden comes a spate of books glorifying neural networks. Do we sense a paradigm shift here? Down with the old reductionist approach of artificial intelligence? Up with the biologically more relevant parallel processing network models? So it would seem, but don't expect consensus. Unlike other recent writers in the field who argue for a specific theory (e.g., Gerald M. Edelman in Bright Air, Brilliant Fire, p. 297), Jubak (former editor of Venture magazine) provides a broad survey of current work in academia and industry, leaving it up to the reader to judge. Jubak is an enthusiast who's on top of developments in speech and pattern perception, robotics, organizing principles in brain development, and so on—but it's just not easy to convey the structure and behavior of computer networks in which the builders themselves are uncertain about what happens in the ``hidden'' layers connected to an input layer (responding to light signals, for example) and to the output layer (identifying a letter or other pattern). Overall, the models try to emulate features of the human brain in its connectivity and its ability to learn. ``Learning'' is often defined in terms of the Hebb synapse—a strengthening of the connection between neurons that fire together. Some basis for the Hebb synapse is revealed late in the book in the discovery of the NMDA receptor—one of two kinds of receptors at neuronal synapses that may be responsible for long-term potentiation. At this microcosmic level of brain science, we learn, the nerve cell itself may be a master microprocessor computing its behavior from multiple inputs summed over time and space and subject to its own feedback circuits. Jubak's useful if demanding survey reveals that the state of the science is such that the more we know the less we know; but that what the brain does is absolutely thrilling—and beautiful. (Line drawings throughout.)

Pub Date: May 22, 1992

ISBN: 0-316-47555-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1992

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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