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The Emperor's New Mind

Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics
Narrated by: Julian Elfer
Length: 18 hrs and 27 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Physics
4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Summary

For decades, proponents of artificial intelligence have argued that computers will soon be doing everything that a human mind can do. Admittedly, computers now play chess at the grandmaster level, but do they understand the game as we do? Can a computer eventually do everything a human mind can do?

In this absorbing and frequently contentious book, Roger Penrose puts forward his view that there are some facets of human thinking that can never be emulated by a machine. The book's central concern is what philosophers call the "mind-body problem". Penrose examines what physics and mathematics can tell us about how the mind works, what they can't, and what we need to know to understand the physical processes of consciousness. He is among a growing number of physicists who think Einstein wasn't being stubborn when he said his "little finger" told him that quantum mechanics is incomplete, and he concludes that laws even deeper than quantum mechanics are essential for the operation of a mind. To support this contention, Penrose takes the listener on a dazzling tour that covers such topics as complex numbers, Turing machines, complexity theory, quantum mechanics, formal systems, Godel undecidability, phase spaces, Hilbert spaces, black holes, white holes, Hawking radiation, entropy, quasicrystals, and the structure of the brain.

©1989 Oxford University Press; Preface copyright 1999, 2016 by Roger Penrose (P)2019 Tantor

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no thought to reading the equations

I like Penrose and find his writing thought-provoking. I also find the shipping forecast on radio 4 therapeutic. So when I say the way in which the equations in this book are dealt with is tedious, you might get an idea for how tedious. Long sequences of binary are read verbatim. Equations are read verbatim; there are only so many times you can hear the words open parenthesis open parentheses... close parenthesis close parenthesis. I understand equations and numbers are difficult to convey aurally but a little more imagination in reading them would be appreciated. I soldiered through the reading of the chapter on Turing machines but gave up by lambda calculus. I will have to read this book, I suppose.

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mostly impenetrable

detailed and interesting but dose not suit well to an audio book. I've been listening to this book 13 times .... many of the points mostly rely on formulaic examples which don't work on audio formats. I will probably buy the book as the author has a lot to say and clearly has a depth of intelligence that requires more attention.

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  • john galt
  • 10-12-19

One one zero zero zero zero zero one zero zero ...

If you like listening to 50 digit binary notations read out as ones and zeros for a couple hours endlessly than this is an audiobook for you. On the other hand, the value of this book is apparent so I ordered th ed print version.

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  • Reader
  • 05-12-19

Not for listening to

Seemingly endless reading of binary numbers that on the page would be typed out is absolutely unbearable and conveys no meaning what so ever. This is done not a few times and one 20 minute chapter is nearly exclusively this. Better to read the book.

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  • Blake
  • 04-12-19

This is an eyeball read

Great book but not well suited for experiencing as an audiobook. Several sections were very equation/calculation/number heavy and I found it painful to listen to physics notation fully enunciated over and over ie. “open bracket vertical bar A close bracket right arrow...”

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  • Brad Jackson
  • 29-11-19

Put you to sleep boring

I respect Roger Penrose but this attempt at a new book was a complete failure. While the subject is interesting the way in which he hoes about explaining things will put you to sleep. He explains every aspect of the math and actually writes it out number by number.

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  • Michael
  • 28-01-20

Good but Dated and Not Great on Audible

The first few chapters of this book would be very difficult in just audible unless you are already very familiar with Turing Machines and the Mandelbrot Set. Unfortunately there is no PDF to go along with the book. Some images can be seen on Google Books and, of course, in paper or kindle.

The rest of the book suggests that human intelligence is non-computable and AI will be unable to produce machines that feel and intuit. Some of these ideas have become dated some are interesting but I did not find any deeply compelling.

Nevertheless this book is has a lot of interesting information and ideas and was well worth the listen, but I would not strongly recommend the Audible version.

The narration was very good considering the very difficult material.