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Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness Paperback – Jun 8 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; REP edition (Aug. 15 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195106466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195106466
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 2.4 x 15.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #231,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Library Journal

This book asserts that human consciousness is not necessarily intelligible in terms of computational models. The brain's conscious activity essentially transcends the forms or possibilities of computation. Penrose (mathematics, Oxford) illustrates his thesis via mathematical logic, including detailed discussions of Godel's proposition of incompleteness, Turing's machines and computabilities, quantum mechanics, and microbiology. Eventually, Penrose argues that artificial intelligence and computer-controlled expert systems are capable of assisting local human expertise but will not be able to replace such expertise. Expanding on some of the ideas and concepts proposed in his controversial book, The Emperor's New Mind (Oxford Univ. Pr., 1989), Penrose challenges others to reconsider traditional concepts. Some familiarity with mathematical logic or processes will facilitate one's appreciation of this book. Recommended for scholars, specialists, and informed lay readers.
Donald G. Frank, Harvard Univ., Cambridge, Mass.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A leading critic of artificial intelligence research returns to the attack, attempting to lay the groundwork for an analysis of the true nature of intelligence. Building on his arguments in The Emperor's New Mind (not reviewed), Penrose (Mathematics/Oxford) begins by refuting the assertion that true intelligence can be attained--or even adequately simulated--by the strictly computational means to which current computers are ultimately limited. Much of his argument depends closely on the application of G”del's Undecidability Theorem to Turing machines--deep waters for laypeople, although the fundamentals of his argument are accessible to readers without sophisticated mathematical training. Having disposed of the central tenets of current AI research, Penrose then turns to an even more fundamental question: the actual foundations in modern physics (i.e., relativity and quantum theory) of the phenomenon of consciousness. Here much of his summary depends on fairly complex mathematical reasoning, although the key points are summarized for the general reader who has been willing to follow him so far. Penrose feels that a new physical synthesis, reconciling the paradoxes of quantum theory and bringing them into harmony with Einstein's gravitational theories, is ultimately necessary to explain the noncomputational elements of consciousness and intelligence. He speculates on the possible role of cellular structures called microtubules in creating a quantum phenomenon on a macroscopic scale within the brain, but grants that more research is needed to establish any connection between physical and mental phenomena. His conclusion steps back to a philosophical overview of the subject, paying homage to Plato, among others. A challenging examination of a central problem of modern philosophy, with no final answers but plenty of food for thought. (76 line drawings) (First printing of 50,000; $50,000 ad/promo) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Between the beautifully written prologue and epilogue, this book approaches a range of topics in modern physics in a unique and readable way. Through a continuation of some earlier work, Penrose furthers an argument for brain function and conciousness that many in the artificial intelligence field will not appreciate. He presents his case that the human mind will never be simulated with digital a computer, no matter how complex. But that is not his main focus of this book.
Even more facinating are his calculations which indicate how mathematically unique our existence is under the 2nd law of thermodynamics. To me, it's ultimately ironic that the physical principal which orders our universe and makes intelligent life possible (the 2nd law), is the result of an unimaginably improbable set of initial conditions. Although Penrose never invokes the concept of a creator or supreme being, in my mind, this poses an interesting challenge to those in the scientific community who claim our universe is simply the result of random particle collisions over a long period of time.
If we combine the concepts of similar structures scaling across space and time (tensegrity and fractals), with Penrose's ideas that consciousness may be associated with quantum gravity interactions in microtubules (present in all living cells), perhaps there is far more mystery and beauty to this existence than some would now believe...
This book was satisfying and throught provoking, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the mysteries of the very large and the very small.
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Format: Paperback
Shadows of The Mind by Sir Roger Penrose is a difficult read. It is not for everybody. It requires a strong background in mathematics and the physical sciences. The reward is a fascinating peek at the science of human consciousness.

This book is a follow-up of Sir Penrose's first book The Emperor's New Mind. It is divided into two parts. In Part I, using Gödel's incompleteness theorems as he did in his first book, Sir Penrose argues that the human mind, unlike an electronic computer, is non-algorithmic and hence non-computational. In plain English, artificial intelligence based on electronic computers is impossible, no matter how advanced computers become. His argument is terribly dry and mathematical. The point I took from Sir Penrose's argument here is that the human mind works in a way distinctly different from that of an electronic computer. His non-computational thesis is contrary to mainstream theories that the mind emerges from the brain as a result of complex computations at the synapses of the neurons.

The book becomes interesting in Part II, where Sir Penrose explains the "puzzle mysteries" and "paradox mysteries" as well as various aspects of quantum mechanics. But the most fascinating is his theory of how consciousness arises at the human brain, which he co-developed with Dr. Stuart Hameroff, an anesthesiologist and a professor at the University of Arizona. The theory is later called Orchestrated Objective Reduction or Orch-OR. Basically Orch-OR proposes that consciousness is the result of the self-collapse of a quantum wavefunction induced by quantum gravity at the microtubules of the neurons. The theory of Orch-OR complies with Sir Penrose's non-computational aspect of the human mind.
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Format: Paperback
"Shadows of the Mind" begins by addressing the arguments against the points Professor Penrose made in his former book, "The Emperor's New Mind." He then goes on to hint at an approach to the subject of consciousness, the great puzzle that science has heretofore been unable to explain, and has even denied.

The book provides a visionary journey through a variety of curious facets of the physical universe which might throw light on the subject of consciousness. The peculiar nature of matter is at center stage as the author crafts a careful argument to back up his quantum theory of consciousness.

Why is it that a physicist is the one to tackle this subject as opposed to a biologist? Professor Penrose suggests that physicists may be in a better position to comprehend how matter really behaves than biologists are, being more familiar with the workings of quantum mechanical effects and non-computable phenomena.

The book concludes with an examination of how quantum behaviour in cells could be responsible for the phenomenon of consciousness. But for me the destination is not more exciting than the voyage and the world view shared by this intellectual giant from the world of cosmic research.
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Format: Paperback
Penrose is following the pathway started in THE EMPEROR'S NEW MIND - an exploration of the brain, consciousness, humanity and machine "thinking". I think Penrose would rather say machine "Computation" since he does not think of the human mind as an entity that can be explained in formula, alogrithms, or programs.
Rather our consciouness, our "knowing" that we are who we are is an evolutionary process made possible through quantum effects. That is Roger Penrose's argument and while it is an interesting one it is by no means definitive. What Penrose has done, though, is relentlessly investigate questions usually left unanswered and in most cases, unasked.
For example, how did consciousness happen? How did it evolve? Is it still evolving and can it be replicated? Once again, as in the EMPEROR, replication of an activity does not mean the same thing except to the outsider. If a computer plays chess and defeats the world champion, it is an astounding feat - not of chess playing but of computer building. Big Blue did nothing that it had not been programmed to do and that is our quandry - at what point would a machine ever begin to do what it wants and for what reason.
We developed psychologically and emotionally as we tried to adapt to our changing environment. Our uniqueness is due to many things, one of them being a left-right brain. To what conditions could a computer respond that would suddenly bring forth awareness? How would it grow and evolve outside of organic matter?
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