A fascinating exercise in futurology.

HOW TO CREATE A MIND

THE SECRET OF HUMAN THOUGHT REVEALED

A pioneering developer of optical character recognition and text-to-speech software explores the possibility of creating a synthetic neocortex that could surpass the human mind.

Kurzweil (The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, 2005, etc.) bases his prediction on modern insights into how the brain has evolved a hierarchical pattern-recognition structure. We perceive the bare outline of events and reconstruct memories in an ordered sequence, and our ability to fill in the blanks provides the foundation for conscious experience. “We are constantly predicting the future and hypothesizing what we will experience,” writes the author. “This expectation influences what we actually perceive.” Kurzweil estimates that at birth, the neocortex contains 300 million pattern processors connected horizontally and vertically, which allow us to connect patterns. In his opinion, it is these processors, rather than the neurons of which they are composed, that are the fundamental units of the neocortex. They allow us to fill out an increasingly complex picture of reality, enabling us to rapidly evaluate our environment and then confirm our hypothesis by checking out the details. Then we are able to respond rapidly to changes in our environment by creating new technologies. Why not create a synthetic extension of our brain using advanced computer technology? It could “contain well beyond a mere 300 million processors,” perhaps as many as a billion or a trillion. Our dependence upon search engines and other technology is a harbinger of a future in which we will not only outsource information storage but directly enhance our mental functioning. In a parallel development, Kurzweil and other software developers are designing more advanced computers based on complex modular functioning.

A fascinating exercise in futurology.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02529-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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