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The Large, the Small and the Human Mind
ISBN 0521563305 / 9780521563307 / 0-521-56330-5
Publisher Cambridge University Press
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Will quantum physics let us reduce consciousness to computation? Roger Penrose says "no" with great force and eloquence in The Large, The Small, and the Human Mind. Originally prepared as a series of three lectures in Cambridge's Tanner Series on Human Values, the material is both meticulously thought out and informally presented, including many illustrations by Penrose and others. For publication, the author sought out rebuttals and commentary by philosophers Abner Shimony and Nancy Cartwright as well as his own colleague and occasional rival, the well-known theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, then reserves the last word for himself, as is his prerogative. The result is a sharp but polite argument on the nature of thinking and its reducibility; readers familiar with The Emperor's New Mind and Shadow of the Mind will find the arguments from quantum physics fleshed out in greater detail but also attacked with good-natured aplomb. Those who missed out on Penrose's older forays into this territory (or are somehow disinterested in the nature of thought) will find this an excellent, if broad, overview of the modern conception of physics from subatomic shenanigans to the radius of the universe as well as a stimulating debate among several great modern thinkers. Despite Penrose's certainty that our brains can't be modelled by computational systems--and hence that strong artificial intelligence will remain in science fiction--the argument continues, and will continue for some time. The Large, The Small, and the Human Mind crystallises that debate for readers who want to keep up with the latest thinking about thinking. --Rob Lightner [via]