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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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